Famed Marilyn Monroe Portrait Sets New Record

In a record-breaking sale, the famous 1964 Andy Warhol portrait of Marilyn Monroe has sold for $195 million. The sale took place at Christie’s auction house in New York.

While estimates before the event had the artwork priced at $200 million, this auction has set new records for 20th century American art. It is the most expensive piece of American artwork ever sold at an auction. It is also the second priciest auctioned piece of art, after Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” sold for $450 million in 2017.

The sale of the iconic silk-screen portrait was encouraging for many art dealers. Andrew Fabricant, COO of Gagosian Gallery and a top art dealer, explained: “This shows that quality and scarcity are always going to push the market forward. It will give a bump psychologically to everyone’s thinking.”

The artwork, entitled Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, was painted by Warhol two years after Monroe’s death in 1964. It is one in a series of five versions of the portrait, each featuring a different color scheme. After a woman entered Warhol’s studio and fired gunshots at a stack of the paintings, the portraits inherited their titles.

Since the 1980s, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn had been owned by a Swiss art dealer. Proceeds of this memorable sale will go to charity in support of education and health programming for children.

Transitioning to Lab-Made Diamonds

The weather is warming up and the sun is finally shining. As engagement season approaches, there is generally a rise in sales in the diamond industry. With the increasing popularity of factory-made diamonds, however, authentic diamond sales have been slowing down.

Independent diamond industry analyst, Edahn Golan, explains that the number of engagement rings with a lab-made diamond sold in March increased by 63% compared to last year, while the amount of traditional engagement rings featuring a natural diamond decreased by 25%. Data from February showed an even larger increase in purchases of rings with manufactured diamonds, at 80% more than the previous year. Golan cautions, “The big fear in the natural diamonds industry is that consumers will start accepting lab-grown diamonds in engagement rings.” He continues, “Too late. It’s actually happening.”

Why the switch to man-made diamonds?

The most apparent reason is cost. With a one-carat round lab-made diamond retailing at $2,318, it’s equivalent natural stone would average at $8.740 – a difference of over 70%. This disparity enables couples to purchase larger stones without worry about compromising on clarify or perfection.

Aside from cost, manufactured diamonds are becoming more popular as the population learns more about them. Negative association connected to child labor in African diamond mines and “blood diamonds” used to finance conflict in war-torn areas leaves a bad taste to many. According to The Knot wedding planning website, the younger population is more conscientious about the background of natural diamonds and the ethical issues related. A lab-made diamond offers an appealing solution.

Large jewelry companies are accommodating these new concerns and the market trends. Zales and Kay Jewelers are producing more man-made bridal options. Pandora, the world’s largest jewelry company, made a drastic move last year, announcing the company’s plans to stop using natural diamonds altogether, and shift to manufactured diamonds only.

If the statistics from the past few months are telling, it seems that demand for manufactured diamonds will only continue to increase. As long as budget and ethics remain priorities for consumers, more jewelry companies are bound to follow the path some major ones have already taken.

Neil R Cole Introduced A New Online Shopping Experience

Neil Cole, the award-winning branding pioneer, founder of the Iconix Brand Group changed the way people shop online when he founded Next Retail Concepts, where shoppers experienced an immersive experience online – and could actually feel like they are in the store. We’ve all shopped online – virtually the entire world understands how online shopping works and has probably had some experience doing so during the last two years with the COVID-19 pandemic. What not everyone has been able to enjoy, however, until recently is the immersive experience of feeling like you’re in the store and actively shopping while online.

As Neil R Cole explains, “Our proprietary technology transforms the traditional eCommerce landscape within our innovative platform to create exciting and engaging immersive shoppable experiences that tell a brand story. This is a dynamic new way to shop.”

Dynamic, indeed. Launching the platform originally with Fred Segal and Mastercard, the shopping experience premiered at 29Rooms in Los Angeles and enabled shoppers to browse the physical store at Fred Segal with features that are similar to Google’s Street View. A shopper uses her mouse to virtually enter the store and to navigate throughout the physical space to products that interest her. She can then click on those products for more details and, at times, even see a 360 degree view of the item.

Explaining how unique Next Retail Concepts is, Neil Cole said, “This experience engages the user on a deeper level and tells a better brand story. It’s like a virtual pop-up that you get to navigate yourself through to create a unique, personalized journey.”

The future of shopping has arrived – and it’s certainly looking exciting!

Printed Solar Panels to be tested in Tesla

In an effort to increase awareness about climate change, scientists in Australia are busy experimenting with printed solar panels. The team from the University of Newcastle is getting the newly invented panels ready for a 15,100-km (9,400-mile) trip in a Tesla electric car which will begin in September.

Charge Around Australia is a project that plans to power a Tesla vehicle using 18 of these special solar panels. With each plastic panel measuring 18 meters (59 feet) long, they are meant to be rolled out on the ground to absorb sunlight in order to charge. Created from laminated PET plastic, the printed solar is lightweight and costs less than $10 per square meter.

According to Paul Dastoor, the developer of the panels and coordinator of the project, the plan is twofold: the first purpose is to check the durability of the plastic panels and the second is to test the possibility of using the panels for other purposes in the future. He explained, “This is actually an ideal test bed to give us information about how we would go about using and powering technology in other remote locations, for example, in space.”

The 84-day journey is sure to raise interest in the effects of climate change. The team’s findings will have significant impact in the use of sustainable energy and solutions for the security of our planet.

Bitcoin 2022 Dazzles Miami

The Miami Beach Convention Center was hopping last week as participants swarmed to attend the Bitcoin 2022 Conference. With the pandemic dismissing any possible gathering the past two years, cryptocurrency fans made sure to take this opportunity to come out and make their presence known. Over 25,000 people were in attendance each day at the convention center, which was designed as a literal crypto universe. A giant moon hung from the ceiling, reminding attendees to always reach higher. A huge Mars replica couldn’t be missed just a little further away. A spreadsheet was passed around listing details about the many scheduled parties. Fog machines were activated and dance music blared. All the big names of the crypto world were in attendance, if not on stage speaking.

When Bitcoin was first released in 2009, conferences barely attracted more than a dozen attendees. There weren’t enough people willing to take Bitcoins that were being distributed for free. Now, the crypto coin and industry in general has multiplied immensely.

The excitement was clear and the fervor could be felt at the gathering in Miami. With the paramount hustle and bustle throughout the convention center, the energy was contagious. Through all the glitz, though, there was a clear focal point – a 40-foot volcano adorned with the Bitcoin 2022 logo, proudly displaying the ambitious future of crypto. Another impossible-to-miss site was a mechanical bull, again sending the message of a bright future. The lucky participant who rode it the longest was to be awarded a single Bitcoin.

Even before the convention ended, participants were already expressing anticipation for next year’s. Will future crypto gatherings outdo the glamour of Bitcoin 2022? We’ll have to wait to find out!