Finding the Salvator Mundi.
In March, we linked to the story that the Salvator Mundi – Savior of the World – which is attributed to Leonardo di Vinci and is known for being the “world’s most expensive painting sold at auction” for a whopping $450,000,000.
It sold to the Saudi prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, a close ally of, and possible stand-in for, the Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and was to be displayed at Louvre Abu Dhabi, but now staff there claim they have no idea of its whereabouts.
According to an official source at the Louvre in Paris, which is owned by the French government and who licensed their name to the museum in Abu Dhabi, they were unable to locate the painting either. They were planning to display it marking the 500th year since da Vinci’s death this coming fall.
On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported, Is Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hiding a Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece on his yacht?
Now, an art market website, Artnet, claims to have located the missing painting on the private superyacht Serene, which was reportedly bought by the Saudi crown prince, too.
If confirmed, the Artnet report that cites several unnamed sources would suggest that the painting is indeed in Saudi possession and that suspicions that “Salvator Mundi” might not make it to the Louvre Abu Dhabi are correct.
Representatives for the Louvre in Paris and the Saudi Center for International Communication did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
The celebrated painting’s absence at the Abu Dhabi Louvre cast a shadow over the ambitious museum project, which in 2017 represented the first overseas expansion of the venerable French art institution. The agreement to allow a museum in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to use the Louvre’s illustrious name was controversial from the beginning, and the more recent controversy over “Salvator Mundi” has emboldened early critics.Washington Post
Confirmed case of Ebola in Uganda.
An update from where we last left off about the new outbreak of Ebola spreading in the Congo within the active war zone in the eastern region of the country which borders with Uganda, a region that has been untouched by the disease until now and WHO had warned could become “a “perfect storm” of factors preventing its containment.”
By mid-August WHO had reported 51 confirmed cases and 44 having died, but “because security cocerns were preventing aid workers from reaching certain areas” it was making the spread of the virus more possible. WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic their worst-case scenario that “at least 1,500 people could be exposed to the virus” because of “blind-spots where the epidemic could take hold.”
By September’s end reports were “about 100 people have died and 150 cases of the virus have been confirmed across two vast provinces, North Kivu and Ituri.” As civilians flee conflict, worst fears were being confirmed as an escaped infected Ebola patient turned up in the town of Tchomia, which serves as a disembarking point for fleeing refugees “who pack onto boats that take them to Uganda, on the other side.”
In March, “the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) ministry of health confirmed there are now officially 907 cases of Ebola in an 8-month long outbreak in the country’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces, reflecting 10 new cases in 2 days,” while a total of 223 suspected cases where still under investigation
On Tuesday, NPR reported via Twitter the developing story that the WHO had confirmed a case of Ebola in a 5-year-old child.
Uganda and other bordering countries had already set up surveillance systems and treatment plans for potential Ebola cases coming out of the outbreak in northeast DRC.— NPR (@NPR) June 11, 2019
[h/t to Tiff for this next heads-up update 😁]
Remember California US Representative Duncan Hunter (CA-50, R) and his wife Margaret Hunter who were both indicted on corruption charges of converting hundreds of thousands of campaign funds and falsifying campaign records in late August 2018?
The Hunters were facing 60 federal charges, including: Conspiracy to Commit Offenses Against the United States; Wire Fraud; Falsification of Records; Prohibited Use of Campaign Contributions; and Aiding and Abetting.
The charges span the time Hunter represented California’s 52nd district, which was from 2009-2013 and continued on from 2013-2016 while representing CA-50.
In March 2017 that The Daily Beast reported the news Hunter was being investigated by the DOJ starting in 2016 for ‘questionable campaign expenditures” after the House Ethics Committee announced they were putting their own investigation on complaints Hunter ‘misused’ funds to “let the DOJ take the lead.”
According to the press release, Hunter and his wife have been using campaign money to enrich themselves from the beginning, starting in 2009 up through and until 2016 and the SoCA District Attorney’s office began its criminal investigation into Hunter because of a series of watchdog articles by the San Diego Union-Tribune reporting and the FEC.
The indictment is 48-pages detailing allegations the Hunter’s spending spree for things like family vacations to Italy and Hawaii, dental work, theater tickets, and “domestic and international travel of almost a dozen relatives.”
It goes on to describe they allegedly then conspired to conceal their spending by “mischaracterizing” their purchases on Hunter’s FEC’s filings. Dental bills were labeled as “charitable donations to ‘Smile for Life’.” Theater tickets to see the show Riverdance at San Diego’s Civic Center became “San Diego Civic Center for Republican Women Federated/Fundraising.” To hide the fact they paid for their children’s private school tuition, the indictment alleges, the Hunter’s used ‘conflicting explanations, including that the payments were charitable contributions.”
Meanwhile, after both entering not guilty pleas and both posting a $15,000 bonds, Hunter pointed the finger at his wife and laid the blame on her because she was the campaign treasurer and was in charge of the finances.
Hunter remained on the ballot for reelection and engaged in a nasty campaign against his Democrat challenger Ammar Campa-Najjar, including charging his opponent in campaign ads with insinuations that Campa-Najjar “is working to infiltrate Congress.”
Hunter won his reelection in November 2018 and his trial date was set for later this year on September 10, 2019.
Then in April, Hunter beclowned himself when he was busted for faking a border crossing into Mexico as a political stunt. Hunter’s bond release forbids him from traveling outside the continental United States or travel to Mexico so he was forced to cop to the stunt when Campa-Najjar, who decided to run for the Democrat nominee to challenge Hunter again, called him out when he sent the Times of San Diego an “email with the subject line: “Hunter breaks the law violates parol,” meaning parole.”
This is Now.
According to San Diego Union-Tribune report, “Rep. Duncan Hunter’s wife, Margaret, to plead out in campaign finance case.”
Margaret Hunter, the wife of longtime East County Congressman Duncan Hunter who was co-indicted with her husband last summer, has agreed to change her plea of not guilty and is scheduled to appear in federal court Thursday morning.
The announcement was posted on the U.S. District Court docket late Wednesday morning without any supplemental documentation.
The indictment, which followed two-plus years of reporting by The San Diego Union-Tribune, accused Hunter and his wife of using at least $250,000 in campaign donations for personal expenses, including groceries, a garage door, a trip to Italy, oral surgery and private school tuition and lunches.
The Alpine congressman, 42, also billed his campaign $600 to fly his family’s pet rabbit across the country, records show.
Use of campaign funds for personal benefit is illegal, to guard against undue influence by campaign contributors. In Hunter’s case, many of his defense contractor and maritime donors had an interest in actions by the committees on which Hunter served.
Hunter was stripped of all committee assignments.
Attorneys for Margaret Hunter, 44, did not immediately return calls seeking comment about the change-of-plea hearing Thursday.
Gregory Vega, the former U.S. attorney who is defending Rep. Hunter, said the development has no immediate bearing on his client’s case.
“We are aware of Mrs. Hunter scheduling a hearing to change her plea,” Vega said Wednesday. “At this time, that does not change anything regarding Congressman Hunter. There are still significant motions that need to be litigated, specifically the speech or debate clause of the U.S. Constitution.”
Vega declined to comment on whether the change of plea might reflect a decision by Margaret Hunter to cooperate with prosecutors and testify against her husband.
h/t Tony for a last minute update with Hunter’s statement on his wife’s plea change from NBC News Capitol Hill producer and reporter Alex Moe: