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Turner trick

London, Dec. 8 (Reuters): A transvestite potter beat the creators of a pair of bronze sex dolls yesterday to land the Turner, Britain’s most controversial art prize.

Brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman were hot favourites to win the £20,000 ($34,560) prize with their graphic depiction of oral sex. But the judges opted instead for Grayson Perry, a British ceramic artist who likes to dress up as a woman and call himself Claire. Perry, sporting a blue Shirley Temple bouffant dress, said on accepting his award: “It’s about time a transvestite potter won the Turner prize.”

“I think the art world had more trouble coming to terms with me being a potter than my choice of frocks.” Given a kiss of congratulations by fellow artist Peter Blake, Perry said: “I want to thank my wife Philippa because she has been my best sponsor, editor, support and mainly my lover.”

Speaking before the award was announced, he said: “One of the reasons I dress up as a woman is my low self-esteem, to go with the image of women being seen as second-class. It is like pottery: that is seen as a second-class thing too.”

Cruise chase

Los Angeles (Reuters): A kimono-clad Tom Cruise, wielding a large sword, chased The Cat in the Hat from its perch atop the North American box office with his new period epic The Last Samurai, but a snow storm in the northeast took a big slice out of movie ticket sales. The Last Samurai earned a modest $24.4 million in its first three days since opening on December 5. It ranks as the worst opening for a Cruise wide release since Eyes Wide Shut, which opened with $21.7 million in 1999. His previous film, Minority Report, opened with $35.7 million last year.

Attic artist

Boston (Reuters) - A landscape painting by nineteenth century American romantic painter Martin Johnson Heade was sold at auction for just over $1 million on Sunday after being stashed away in an attic for over 60 years. The 30 cm by 66 cm river scene, which art historians did not even know existed, was discovered in a home near Boston by antiques experts Leigh and Leslie Keno as they filmed an episode of the new PBS television series Find! Even a raging New England snowstorm did not adversely affect the price. “Because of the miracles of modern technology, there were people bidding on the telephone and the price kept rising,” Leigh Keno said. The painting had been estimated to be worth at least $500,000 and was sold to a New York-based art dealer. Heade, who died in 1904, is now described by art experts as one of the best American romantic painters.


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