An Exciting Evening at Sotheby’s

Monday evening at Sotheby’s in Manhattan was a memorable one for the famed auction house. Pablo Picasso’s ‘Guitar on a Table’ sold for $37.1 million, closing the evening at one of its highest-ever tallies of $392 million.

The cubist from 1919 was part of CBS founder William Paley’s private collection. Following his passing in 1990, a couple dozen pieces were put into the care of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. A foundation for Mr. Paley decided to begin auctioning off some of the famed works in an effort to raise $70 million for various causes. One of the main goals of the sales is to help fund an expansion of MoMA’s digital footprint, with the possibility of developing a museum-run streaming art channel or pairing up with a university to offer art degrees.

During the auction, two bidders competed diligently for the Picasso piece, driving up the price tag. While the colorful “Guitar on a Table” had expected to sell for an estimated $20 million, a telephone bidder closed the sale at over $37 million.

Other pieces from Mr. Paley’s estate were also sold on Monday night and an additional painting was auctioned earlier this month at Sotheby’s in London.

Brits Turn to Energy-Saving Alternatives as Fuel Prices Continue to Skyrocket

As recent predictions showed that energy bills in England would rise 80% by the end of October, Brits have been thinking outside the box for warm food and heating.

According to GfK’s market research, sales of certain electrical appliances have soared. People have been on the hunt for energy-saving tactics and products to avoid a major increase in their utility bill. The sale of hot air fryers was up 286% last month as compared to September last year, as the portable devices heat up faster and consume significantly less energy than conventional ovens.  In a similar vein, pressure cookers and slow cookers rose 79% compared to last year. As reported by Uswitch.com, these small kitchen machines cost about half of what an electrical oven costs to run – while an average slow cooker costs 13 cents per hour of use, a conventional oven costs 24 cents.

In addition to scrounging to save on cooking techniques, British citizens are thinking of alternative methods to keep warm as winter approaches. Sales of electric blankets have jumped 216% since last September.

As the average yearly household energy bill in England rose 96% percent since last October, the government has stepped in and put a cap on electricity and gas costs for the coming two years. Later, however, new finance minister Jeremy Hunt announced that the cap would be relevant until April only for most households.

When the climbing fuel prices will stabilize is truly up in the air. In the meantime, savvy British residents are managing to do the necessary calculations and adjust their standard of living accordingly

The Shift in Black Friday

In 2015, the retailer REI first announced that its stores would be closed on Black Friday. This was a dramatic message at the time, as the day after Thanksgiving is known to be the most popular shopping day of the year, with stores offering competitive sales. From then, the store continued in its path of shutting its doors on Black Friday, making the decision on a year-to-year basis. Now, however, the company has announced that every aspect of the business will be closed on Black Friday every year. This includes all 178 of its retail stores, its call centers, headquarters, and distribution locations – giving a paid vacation day to 16,000 employees.

In recent years, the excitement of Black Friday has been slowly waring off.  The younger generation is less willing to wake up at the crack of dawn and wait outside on line for hours to get a good deal. Additionally, many companies have extended their “Black Friday sale” to the days leading up to Thanksgiving, or the days after – leaving less pressure to shop specifically on that Friday.

Following REI, a new trend has been noted with retailers choosing to “Opt Outside.” The movement prioritizes spending the day outdoors, creating experiences, and basically doing anything other than shopping. The CEO of REI, Eric Artz, says: “Opt Outside has always been about prioritizing the experience of our employees, choosing the benefits of time outside over a day of consumption and sales. When we first introduced this movement, it was considered revolutionary for a retail brand, but we felt it was the right thing to do for our members and employees.”

While most retailers are still open for business on Black Friday, the change in thinking is revolutionary and sure to continue shifting trends in consumerism as the years go on.

Inflight Connectivity Continues to Soar

The fact that much of the Western world spends too much time glaring at screens, surfing the net, and scrolling on social media apps is a topic that is often discussed. One of the few times that people used to be forced to unplug was while on board a flight. In recent years, however, connecting to an airline’s WiFi has become much more common, a service that used to be accessed primarily by busy businesspeople.

How does this advanced technology actually work?

There are two main types of inflight internet connectivity, one which uses antennas and the other that relies on satellites.

The first category is widely known as air-to-ground (ATG). Using this method, an antenna on the aircraft catches signals from cellphone towers on land. A major drawback is that the quality of the connection depends on the location of the aircraft at a given moment – for example, when flying over an ocean or a desert, service will drop as there is greater distance between the plane’s antennas and the cellphone towers. For this reason, many airlines are making the switch to satellite-based connections. Using satellites, the signal remains stronger no matter the location or movement of the aircraft.

While satellites resolve some of the major disadvantages of ATG, that system requires constant upkeep and advancements of the network. It is much simpler, faster, and cheaper to install new cellular towers than to launch a new satellite into space.

While the mere fact that such services exist is remarkable, there are a lot of improvements that need to happen in terms of expanding network service and speed. As with all technologies, it is likely just a matter of time till we see more impressive developments.

American Airlines to Buy Supersonic Jets

In a bold move, American Airlines has put down a deposit to purchase 20 supersonic jets from Boom Supersonic.

Boom is in the process of developing an aircraft called Overture, expected to be officially completed and released in 2025. Overture can travel at almost twice the speed of sound, and is designed to fit 65 to 80 passengers. While the company recently released a sophisticated version of the jet, Overture is still in the early development stages and has not yet run a test flight.

Overture, however, is not the first of its kind. The Concorde was a supersonic jet with routes across the Atlantic Ocean, primarily between London and New York City. In 2003, the ultra-speedy aircraft was forced to halt its services. With seat prices reaching a steep $10,000 per person, and deafening engines preventing the jet from flying over land, use of the Concorde was unsustainable. Although many have asserted that high-speed jets won’t make a comeback for these reasons, airlines seem confident enough in their return to be investing in them. Prior to the current American Airlines purchase, United Airlines had publicized its plans last year to buy up to 15 supersonic jets from Boom.

Despite previous economic failures of the aircrafts, the US government has shown support for bringing supersonic jets back and the FAA is devising new sets of code regarding noise levels over land. While Boom hopes its jets can begin running by 2029, the aircrafts and routes will need to be approved.

Although it is still unclear whether or not Overture will be approved for flying, the possibility is exciting. Many would love the opportunity to reach London from Miami in less than five hours, or to travel from Los Angeles to Honolulu in just three hours.

Only time will tell what the likelihood is for supersonic jets to fill the airspace…let alone the price tag!