JERUSALEM — Yair Lapid, the centrist politician and former media celebrity whose party took second place in Israel’s March election, had pledged to forgo the premiership if that’s what it would take to form a coalition of diverse parties that could oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power.
The unusual exercise in political humility stemmed not from modesty, but from the difficulties he knew he would face in mustering enough parliamentary support to form an alternative government.
Now, after Mr. Netanyahu failed to form a viable coalition by Tuesday’s midnight deadline, Mr. Lapid’s political skills and sincerity will be put to the test. The president, Reuven Rivlin, has given him the next shot at cobbling together a government that might send Mr. Netanyahu into the opposition and end Israel’s political gridlock.
Mr. Lapid’s party, Yesh Atid (There is a Future), won 17 seats in the inconclusive election, Israel’s fourth in two years. But its path to power is hampered by the disparate nature of the anti-Netanyahu bloc, which is made up of numerous small parties with clashing agendas. Some of its right-wing elements view Mr. Lapid as too left-wing to lead an alternative government.
preserving liberal democracy and thwarting Mr. Netanyahu’s stated goal of forming a government made up of right-wing and religious parties, reliant on ultra-Orthodox rabbis and ultranationalist extremists.
standing trial on corruption charges and who, together with his right-wing and religious allies, intended to curb the powers of the Supreme Court and possibly seek some kind of immunity from prosecution.
Speaking to party activists before the election, Mr. Lapid described the coalition that Mr. Netanyahu wanted to form as “an extremist, homophobic, chauvinistic, racist and anti-democratic government,” and said, “it’s a government where nobody represents working people, the people who pay taxes and believe in the rule of law.”
reneged on a main election promise and joined forces with Mr. Netanyahu to form an uneasy — and short-lived — unity government after last year’s election.
After a highly successful career as a journalist and popular television host, Mr. Lapid was the surprise of the 2013 election when, as a political novice, his party surpassed expectations and placed second, turning him into the chief power broker in the formation of the coalition.
His father, Yosef Lapid, a Holocaust survivor and an antireligious politician, once also headed a centrist party and served as justice minister. His mother, Shulamit Lapid, is a well-known novelist.
An amateur boxer known for his casual-chic black clothing, Mr. Lapid rode to power on the back of the social justice protests of 2011, giving voice to Israel’s struggling middle class. On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he has stuck to the middle ground, presenting safe positions within the Israeli Jewish consensus.
It has been only five weeks since New York State legalized the use of recreational marijuana. The board that will oversee the rollout has yet to be appointed, let alone rules set for how licenses will be issued to cannabis businesses. The sale of legal pot in the state is still a year away. And, of course, marijuana remains illegal on the federal level.
But already the rush is on to get a piece of what could be a $4.2 billion industry in the Empire State.
Brokers are talking to landlords about leasing storefronts to dispensaries. Representatives of out-of-state cannabis businesses are flying in to scope out properties. And suppliers of medical marijuana are expanding in the hope that they will be able to branch into recreational sales.
Agricultural land upstate is now marketed as being “in the green zone” for hemp farming or the construction of grow houses for cultivating marijuana.
may soon change.
heated discussions among local officials, some of whom “can’t fathom the idea of the devil’s lettuce businesses within their borders,” said Neil M. Willner, co-chair of the cannabis practice at Royer Cooper Cohen Braunfeld, a New York City law firm.
But the pandemic may have softened the stance of some officials, given the jobs and tax revenue that cannabis businesses can generate after the protracted health crisis has decimated both. The state estimates that the new industry could bring it $350 million in annual revenue and create 30,000 to 60,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, funding is pouring into the industry in anticipation of possible federal legalization, some lenders will now do business with cannabis companies, and real estate investment trusts have sprung up to serve marijuana interests.
an increase in purchasing over leasing in the past year.
“Going forward, when banking becomes more normalized for us — when we have the opportunity to get real estate debt in the way traditional industries do — we would have a preference for owning real estate,” said Barrington Rutherford, senior vice president of real estate and community integration at Cresco Labs, a cannabis company with operations in several states.
law firms, consultants, insurance agents and accountants specializes in helping clients jump through regulatory hoops. A listing service that is the industry’s answer to Zillow offers a wide range of real estate, from $65,000 lots in an industrial park in Lexington, Okla., to a $109 million, 45,000-square-foot grow house in San Bernardino, Calif.
The brick-and-mortar side of cannabis real estate has also evolved.
As cultivation of marijuana has become more sophisticated, grow houses have expanded — they can be 150,000 square feet or more, with high ceilings, heavy-duty ventilation, lighting and security. Processing typically occurs in separate buildings with high-tech machinery.
dispensaries are increasingly stylish, offering a rarefied retail experience. Accomplished architecture and design firms have gotten into the act. There are even companies that specialize in kitting out dispensaries and other cannabis real estate.
And as marijuana gains broader public acceptance — and some celebrity glamour, with Jay-Z’s Monogram and Seth Rogen’s Houseplant — stores are opening in prominent locations near traditional retailers.
“We’re next to Starbucks in downtown Chicago,” Mr. Rutherford said. “In Philadelphia, the store we’re opening is a half block from Shake Shack and down the block from Macy’s.”
“We are building a portfolio of sites that would be enviable by any retail organization,” he added.
The New York State law also provides for licenses for “consumption sites,” and this is expected to give rise to clublike lounges and cannabis cafes. The prospect of such convivial settings has led to predictions that New York City may become the next Amsterdam.
These new storefront uses would appear to be a godsend for New York’s retail real estate market, where availability has increased and rents have fallen.
“A few years ago, when the market was stronger, it was harder to find landlords willing to play ball,” said Benjamin S. Birnbaum, a broker at the real estate services firm Newmark. “What’s changed, because of the pandemic, is that every landlord is willing to talk about it.”
in a recent CNBC interview.
Regardless of size, opening a dispensary can be complicated and expensive, in part because states have required that would-be retailers have control of a site, through a lease or option to lease, before they can apply for a license. But the number of licenses in some states is limited, with no guarantee a business will get one.
In Oregon, some applicants had to wait so long — one or two years, said Andrew DeWeese, a lawyer with Green Light Law Group in Portland — they eventually gave up and essentially sold their place in line.
“It’s a Catch-22,” said Kristin Jordan, a cannabis lawyer in New York City. “You want to secure real estate, but you don’t want to jump the gun.”
Still, the prospect of operating in New York, a state with more than 19 million residents and a major tourist destination, is so enticing that cannabis companies are getting their ducks in row.
Companies that have medical dispensaries, which have been operating since 2016, are in an enviable position because it is believed they will have an advantage in securing additional licenses.
Cresco Labs has four medical dispensaries in New York, including one in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. It is unclear whether the state will allow recreational marijuana to be sold at those locations, but Mr. Rutherford is hedging his bets, adding parking and in some cases expanding by leasing a storefront next door to an existing space.
“We are making sure those stores are ready for the future adult use market,” he said.
After Michael Jackson died in 2009, at age 50, the executors of his estate began shoring up the shaky finances of the onetime King of Pop, settling debts and striking new entertainment and merchandising deals. Before long the estate was in strong shape, with debts reduced and millions of dollars in earnings.
But there was another matter that has taken more than seven years to litigate: Jackson’s tax bill with the Internal Revenue Service, in which the government and the estate held vastly different views about what Jackson’s name and likeness were worth when he died.
The I.R.S. thought they were worth $161 million. The estate put it at just $2,105 — arguing that Jackson’s reputation was in tatters at the end of his life, after years of lurid reporting on his eccentric lifestyle and a widely covered trial on child molestation charges, in which Jackson was acquitted.
On Monday, in a closely watched case that may have implications for other celebrity estates, Judge Mark V. Holmes of United States Tax Court ruled that Jackson’s name and likeness were worth $4.2 million, rejecting many of the I.R.S.’s arguments. The decision will significantly lower the estate’s tax burden from the government’s first assessment.
But the tax case turned on the value of Jackson’s public image at the time of his death. His reputation had been badly damaged, and since 1993, Judge Holmes noted, Jackson had no endorsements or merchandise deals unrelated to a musical tour or album.
Yet the judge found that the estate’s estimate of $2,105 was just too low and that the estate was “valuing the image and likeness of one of the best known celebrities in the world — the King of Pop — at the price of a heavily used 20-year-old Honda Civic” (complete with a footnote citation to a used car price guide).
In a 271-page ruling dotted with literary references to Hemingway and Plutarch, Judge Holmes — who is noted for his clear and sometimes humorous writing style summarizing dense tax cases — summed up the vicissitudes of Jackson’s life, public reputation and finances.
$750 million to buy out its share of that catalog.)
The Jackson case has been watched closely as a guide for how celebrity estates may be valued, and for their tax liabilities. Among the major estates with large tax issues still before the I.R.S. are those of Prince and Aretha Franklin.
In a statement, John Branca and John McClain, co-executors of the Jackson estate, called the decision “a huge, unambiguous victory for Michael Jackson’s children.”
“For nearly 12 years Michael’s estate has maintained that the government’s valuation of Michael’s assets on the day he passed away was outrageous and unfair, one that would have saddled his heirs with an oppressive tax liability of more than $700 million,” Branca and McClain said. “While we disagree with some portions of the decision, we believe it clearly exposes how unreasonable the I.R.S. valuation was and provides a path forward to finally resolve this case in a fair and just manner.”
The I.R.S. did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday night.
To prevent a new wave of infections in Australia, about 8,000 Australia citizens and residents are banned from returning home from India as of Monday.
The travel ban is believed to represent the first time Australia has made it a criminal offense for its own citizens and permanent residents to enter the country.
“I never expected this to happen,” said Drisya Dilin, an Australian hospital administrator whose 5-year-old daughter has been in India for over a year because of strict border policies, despite many attempts to bring her home.
Much of the world has decided to cut off travel to and from India as it grapples with an uncontrolled outbreak that is killing thousands of people every day. But Australia, a continent with a strong preference for hard borders, has pushed isolation to a new extreme. No other democratic nation has issued a similar ban on all arrivals. Britain, Germany and the United States, for example, have restricted travel from India, but have exempted citizens and permanent residents, many of whom are rushing home.
medical oxygen; and where crematories are burning day and night amid a deluge of bodies.
Australian officials said the new restrictions, with penalties of up to five years in prison and nearly 60,000 Australian dollars ($46,300) in fines, would keep its hotel quarantine system from being overwhelmed.
SYDNEY, Australia — Before the coronavirus pandemic surged, Drisya Dilin dropped her daughter off with her parents in India, expecting to bring her to Australia a month later. That was more than a year ago.
Now, any attempt to get the 5-year-old to Australia, where she is a permanent resident, brings a threat of jail time or large fines.
She’s one of about 8,000 Australians affected by an unprecedented travel ban that began on Monday, prompted by India’s record-breaking Covid outbreak. It is believed to be the first time that Australia has made it a criminal offense for its own citizens and permanent residents to enter the country.
“I never expected this to happen,” said Ms. Dilin, a hospital administrator who has tried several times to repatriate her daughter to Australia, including on a charter flight this month that was canceled.
a strong preference for hard borders, has pushed isolation to a new extreme. No other democratic nation has issued a similar ban on all arrivals. Britain, Germany and the United States, for example, have restricted travel from India, but have exempted citizens and permanent residents, many of whom are rushing home.
Australia’s decision — announced quietly late Friday night by officials who said it was necessary to keep the country safe — has built into a medical and moral crisis.
Indian-Australians are outraged. Human rights groups have condemned the move as unnecessarily harsh and a violation of citizenship principles. Other critics have suggested that the policy was motivated by racism or, at the very least, a cultural double standard.
medical oxygen; and where crematories are burning day and night amid a deluge of bodies.
Australian officials said the new restrictions — with penalties of up to five years in prison and nearly 60,000 Australian dollars ($46,300) in fines under Australia’s Biosecurity Act — would keep its hotel quarantine system from being overwhelmed.
“Fifty-seven percent of the positive cases in quarantine had been arrivals from India,” Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Sunday. “It was placing a very, very significant burden on health and medical services in states and territories.”
But for Australians in India, the policy amounts to a stunning lack of concern.
“I thought our passports would look after us,” said Emily McBurnie, an Australian wellness coach who has been stranded in New Delhi since March 2020 and has been ill with Covid-19 for more than a month. She said that the Australian government owed more to its citizens, and added that if her health deteriorated, she feared she would not have access to oxygen or an intensive care bed.
fewer than 300 active Covid cases and where daily life has been nearly normal for months, most people support the strict border policy. In a recent poll by the Lowy Institute, which surveyed Australians before the Indian outbreak intensified, an overwhelming majority reported that they were happy with how Australia has tackled the pandemic. Only one in three surveyed said the government should do more to help Australians return home during the pandemic.
Natasha Kassam, the director of the Lowy Institute’s Public Opinion and Foreign Policy Program, said many Australians had been led to believe that those abroad should have come home by now or had chosen to stay where they were for personal or professional reasons.
The distinct lack of sympathy is tied, in part, to a lack of understanding, Ms. Kassam said. “More than a third of Australians were born overseas,” she said. “Closed borders means separated families.”
Human Rights Watch called Australia’s ban an “outrageous response” that undermined the concept of citizenship by denying people their right to return to their country.
said the travel ban “raises serious human rights concerns,” and the agency called on the government to show that the move was not discriminatory.
While India has the world’s highest number of new infections, it also has an enormous population. Its per capita infection rate is still lower than what it was in the United States and in many parts of Europe during their recent peaks.
Ms. Dilin, who lives in Sydney, where she works in the Covid-response unit of a hospital, said Australia’s treatment of people from India was clearly unfair.
“When the U.S. had the same issues, when the U.K. had many cases, they never stopped anybody from coming back,” she said.
Aviram Vijh, a Sydney-based designer from India and an Australian citizen, said the government’s actions smacked of prejudice.
“Clearly it’s a move that’s disproportionate,” Mr. Vijh said. His cousin, also an Australian citizen, is stranded in India with his wife and 3-year-old daughter, he added. Both his cousin and his wife have Covid-19.
“He’s very distressed,” he said of his cousin. “And there’s no path forward.”
Neha Sandhu, an Australian citizen who managed to return home from India in June, said that along with Ms. Dilin’s daughter, there were several other unaccompanied minors affected by the ban, many of whom had been visiting family in India and were now unable to return home.
“It is totally inhumane,” said Ms. Sandhu, who runs a Facebook group with more than 17,000 followers for those stuck in India.
Australian officials have argued, however, that the move was purely based on an assessment of the risk to public health. Australia’s chief medical officer, Paul Kelly, said the ban was temporary and is set to be lifted May 15, though it could also be extended.
Ms. Kassam, of the Lowy Institute, said the denial of a right to return for Australians in India was the first major test of a policy that most Australians have quietly accepted. She wondered if Australians would be more sympathetic once they knew the details.
“Australians have historically been supportive of tough border restrictions, though these questions have never been asked in relation to their own citizens,” she said. “The idea of fortress Australia is politically popular, but is untested in terms of criminalizing citizens for simply coming home”
Damien Cave reported from Sydney, Australia, and Livia Albeck-Ripka from Melbourne, Australia.
“The media has a bias toward celebrity and novelty and energy,” said U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres of the Bronx, who has endorsed Mr. Yang.
The candidate’s version of Trumpian provocation is a series of Twitter controversies over mildly misguided enthusiasm for bodegas and subways. “The Daily Show” last week launched a parody Twitter account featuring a wide-eyed Mr. Yang excitedly declaring gems like “Real New Yorkers want to get back to Times Square.”
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Mr. Yang was less amused than usual by that effort. “It seems like an odd time to utilize Asian tourist tropes,” he told me acidly. “I wish it were funnier.”
The joke is also probably on his critics. He has, like Mr. Trump, appeared simply to benefit from the attention. When his campaign asked the fairly narrow slice of Democratic primary voters who get their news from Twitter how they would characterize what they were seeing about the candidate, 79 percent said it was positive.
While Mr. Yang isn’t new to the city, he’s new to its civic life. He has never even voted in a mayoral election. The provocative heart of his presidential campaign, a promise to palliate dystopian, robot-driven social collapse by handing out $1,000 a month to a displaced citizenry, doesn’t make sense in city budgeting, and so he replaced it with a program of cash supplements targeted, more traditionally, at the poor. It’s unclear how many people still think he’s the free-money candidate.
His campaign’s top staffers work for a consulting firm headed by Bradley Tusk, a former aide to Mayor Bloomberg and the disgraced former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. Mr. Tusk, who also advised Uber, has steered Mr. Yang toward a broad-strokes, pro-business centrism and kept him out of the other candidates’ competition for the left wing of the primary electorate.
Mr. Tusk told me in an unguarded moment in March that Mr. Yang’s great advantage was that he came to local politics as an “empty vessel,” free of fixed views on city policy or set alliances. When I asked the candidate what he made of that remark, Mr. Yang took no offense. “A lot of New Yorkers are excited about someone who will come in and just try to figure out, like what the best approach to a particular problem is, like free of a series of obligations to existing special interests,” he said.
Pelé, Dolly Parton and the Dalai Lama have little in common apart from this: Over a few days in March, they became the latest celebrity case studies for the health benefits of Covid-19 vaccines.
“I just want to say to all of you cowards out there: Don’t be such a chicken squat,” Ms. Parton, 75, said in a video that she posted on Twitter after receiving her vaccine in Tennessee. “Get out there and get your shot.”
This is hardly the first time public figures have thrown their popularity behind an effort to change the behavior of ordinary people. In medicine, celebrity endorsements tend to echo or reinforce messages that health authorities are trying to publicize, whether it’s getting a vaccine, or other medical treatment. In 18th-century Russia, Catherine the Great was inoculated against smallpox as part of her campaign to promote the nationwide rollout of the procedure. Almost 200 years later, backstage at “The Ed Sullivan Show,” Elvis Presley received the polio vaccine in an effort to help reach at-risk teenagers.
But do the star-studded endorsements really work? Not necessarily. Epidemiologists say there are plenty of caveats and potential pitfalls — and little scientific evidence to prove that the endorsements actually boost vaccine uptake.
History of Vaccines website, a project of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
and among the weirdest — online rituals of the Covid era.
To help track the phenomenon, New York Magazine over the winter kept a running list of newly vaccinated celebrities that includes Christie Brinkley (“piece of cake”), Whoopi Goldberg (“I didn’t feel it”) and Mandy Patinkin (“One of the few benefits of being old”). Journalists in India have done the same for Bollywood film stars.
getting their shots while shirtless have generated a bunch of memes. An epidemiologist in Oregon, Dr. Esther Choo, joked on Twitter that the French health minister, Olivier Véran, was carrying out a public-relations campaign that she called “Operation Smolder.”
stubbornly persistent in the United States and beyond. The rapid-fire testimonials by Pelé, Ms. Parton and the Dalai Lama in March, for example, collectively reached more than 30 million followers and prompted hundreds of thousands of engagements across Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. In April, the singer Ciara hosted a star-studded NBC special meant to promote vaccinations, with appearances by former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, as well as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jennifer Hudson, Matthew McConaughey and others.
“These kind of endorsements might be especially important if trust in government/official sources is quite low,” Tracy Epton, a psychologist at the University of Manchester in Britain who has studied public health interventions during the coronavirus pandemic, said in an email.
That was the case in the 1950s, when Elvis Presley agreed to receive the polio vaccine to help the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis reach a demographic — teenagers — that was “difficult to educate and inspire through traditional means,” said Stephen E. Mawdsley, a lecturer in modern American history at the University of Bristol in Britain.
“I think Elvis helped to make getting vaccinated seem ‘cool’ and not just the responsible thing to do,” Dr. Mawdsley said.
had a colonoscopy live on the “Today” show in 2000, for example, the number of colorectal screenings in the United States soared for about nine months.
experiment that when 46 celebrities agreed to tweet or retweet pro-immunization messages, their posts were more popular than similar ones from noncelebrities. That was especially true when the celebrities delivered the message in their own voices, rather than citing someone else, researchers found.
“Their voice matters,” said Vivi Alatas, an economist in Indonesia and a co-author of that study. “It’s not just their ability to reach followers.”
For the most part, though, the science linking celebrity endorsements to behavioral change is tenuous.
One reason is that people generally consider those within their own personal networks, not celebrities, the best sources of advice about changing their own behavior, Dr. Najera said.
He cited a 2018 study that found few gun owners in the United States rated celebrities as effective communicators about safe gun storage. The owners were far more likely to trust law enforcement officers, active-duty military personnel, hunting or outdoor groups, and family members.
among the first in the country to receive a Covid shot in January. “Don’t be afraid of vaccines,” he told his Instagram followers, who numbered nearly 50 million at the time, almost a fifth of the country’s population.
That night, he was spotted partying without a mask, and accused of breaking the public’s trust.
“Please you can do better than this,” Sinna Sherina Munaf, an Indonesian musician, told Mr. Ahmad and her nearly 11 million followers on Twitter. “Your followers are counting on you.”
While the scaled-back Oscars in Los Angeles on Sunday made for a more subdued and intimate affair than usual, the evening was not without its moments.
Picking up his award for best supporting actor, the British actor Daniel Kaluuya managed to embarrass his proud mother. ‘It’s incredible. My mum met my dad, they had sex. It’s amazing, you understand. I’m here, you know what I mean?’
Glenn Close twerked and Frances McDormand howled like a wolf. Making history as the first Korean actor to win an Oscar, Youn Yuh-jung took a moment to appreciate Brad Pitt, who handed her the award. ‘Oh, Mr Brad Pitt, finally, nice to meet you. Where were you while we were filming, in person?’ she joked, to laughter
Rupert Murdoch took a top editor from his brash and conservative London tabloid, The Sun, and put him in charge of his brash and conservative New York tabloid, The New York Post.
Keith Poole, a 44-year-old Englishman who remade The Sun’s website in recent years, started as The Post’s newsroom leader on March 22. Since then, most people on staff have yet to hear from him, two Post employees said.
He had lunch with Emily Smith, the longtime editor of The Post’s gossip franchise, Page Six, but has yet to host an all-hands video call to say hello to the staff, which has been working remotely, or send an email greeting, the two people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal matters. For some staff members, the only evidence of the new boss’s presence has been the addition of his name to the newsroom’s main channel on Slack, the messaging app.
A spokeswoman for The Post said in an email that Mr. Poole was getting to know the team in his own way: “Keith has been meeting a number of Post staff in person, on video calls and on the phone (since most are working from home), and he has had lunch with other staff, not just Emily.”
Col Allan, an Australian tabloid specialist who retired in March after more than 40 years at Murdoch papers.
Mr. Poole has more experience in attracting online readers than his predecessor. Before joining The Sun as its digital editor in 2016, he helped make The Daily Mail’s U.S. website a must-read for followers of celebrity gossip.
“At The Sun, it’s all they focus on,” said Chris Spargo, a reporter who worked at both of Mr. Poole’s prior employers. Mr. Poole also sees The Daily Mail as The Post’s main rival, several people with knowledge of the Post newsroom said.
Today in Business
A former colleague said Mr. Poole does not fit the stereotype of the gruff, boisterous tabloid editor.
“Keith is charming and has that British wit about him,” said David Martosko, a former U.S. political editor at The Daily Mail who is now a senior content executive at Zenger News. “More people in our business should adopt his collaborative editing style.”
His responsibilities include not only the now-profitable New York tabloid that Mr. Murdoch pulled out of bankruptcy in the 1990s but also the larger The New York Post Group. That includes the Post Digital Network, which is made up of the paper’s website, a separate website for Page Six, the entertainment site Decider.com and the ad company Post Studios, as well as other media properties.
the biggest online brand in the U.K. Last year he was named its deputy editor in chief.
In a 2018 interview, Mr. Poole said he focused on five key areas: news, celebrity, soccer, money and women’s lifestyle. While at The Sun, he met frequently with Robert Thomson, the chief executive of Mr. Murdoch’s newspaper company, News Corp, who was often in the London office before the pandemic, three people with knowledge of the relationship said.
Under Mr. Allan, The Post specialized in celebrity news and city coverage while also championing former President Trump and attacking his rivals. Under Mr. Poole, the paper has kept its focus on celebs and liberal villains, as the April 16 front page suggested. The left side showed Jennifer Lopez in a revealing costume under the headline, “Inside J-Rod’s Breakup.” On the right, a headline blasted Democrats: “PACK RATS. Backlash as Dems try to take over Supreme Court.”
In an effort to re-establish “authority” over the usage of her likeness, Emily Ratajkowski, the model and writer, is minting a nonfungible token, or NFT, which will be auctioned at Christie’s on May 14. The piece will be titled “Buying Myself Back: A Model for Redistribution.”
As Ms. Ratajkowski chronicled in a widely read essay published in The Cut last fall, she’d been surprised to find out, in 2014, that a nude photograph of herself was hanging in the Gagosian Gallery on Madison Avenue. As part of his “New Portraits” series, the artist Richard Prince had taken one of her Instagram photos and printed it on a large canvas, priced at $90,000.
Ms. Ratajkowski tried to buy the piece but a Gagosian employee bought it for himself. After contacting Mr. Prince’s studio directly, though, she was able to obtain a second “Instagram painting” of herself, featuring a photo from her first appearance in Sports Illustrated’sswimsuit issue. She had been paid $150 for the shoot, she wrote, and a “couple grand” when the issue was published. She and her boyfriend at the time bought the piece for $81,000; when they broke up, she paid her ex $10,000 for a smaller “study” that Mr. Prince’s studio had given her.
The image attached to the NFT is a digital composite showing Ms. Ratajkowski, photographed in her New York apartment, posing in front of the Richard Prince painting that hangs in her Los Angeles home. (To remind: a nonfungible token is the metadata associated with the image file, allowing the file to be bought or sold like a physical piece of art.)
Beeple’s $69.3 million NFT sale at Christie’s, talent agents started encouraging their celebrity clients to participate in the NFT “money grab,” Ms. Ratajkowski said in an interview. Brands and cryptocurrency brokers contacted her directly, she said, offering her 20 percent to 60 percent of profits for an NFT featuring her likeness. “I had this bad feeling in my stomach about that way of approaching it,” she said, so she decided to develop her own project — following another prominent model, Kate Moss.
As Ms. Ratajkowski browsed NFT marketplaces like OpenSea, Foundation and SuperRare, she came across bouncing smiley-face GIFs and 3-D renderings, thinking to herself: “Why are they NFTs? They don’t need to be NFTs.”
Because an NFT is less about the image itself and more the concept of ownership over a digital file, Ms. Ratajkowski realized the medium could be an effective way to make a statement about ownership — by appropriating Mr. Prince’s appropriation of her photo.
“As somebody who has built a career off of sharing my image, so many times — even though that’s my livelihood — it’s taken from me and then somebody else profits off of it,” she said. Every time her NFT is resold, she will receive an undisclosed cut. “To me, this digital marketplace is a way to communicate this specific idea that couldn’t exist in a different way.”
since the 1980s, and he made a name for himself by taking photos of existing photographs. His work has long been controversial, and Ms. Ratajkowski is not the first subject to take issue with the “New Portraits” series of Instagram appropriations.
In 2015, Selena Mooney, the founder of the erotic website SuicideGirls, sold $90 copies of a piece by Mr. Prince that features one of her Instagram posts, with proceeds going to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group.
“If I had a nickel for every time someone used our images without our permission in a commercial endeavor I’d be able to spend $90,000 on art,” Ms. Mooney wrote on Instagram. Another subject, the sex educator Zoë Ligon, told Artnet she felt “violated” by Mr. Prince’s use of her selfie in 2019.
Mr. Prince has also been sued at least five times over copyright infringement relating to the “New Portraits” series, The New York Times has reported, including two high-profile lawsuits filed by two photographers, Donald Graham and Eric McNatt. Mr. McNatt claimed that Mr. Prince misused a photo of Kim Gordon he shot for Paper magazine. According to court documents, he was paid between $50 and $100 for the shoot.
The art critic Jerry Saltz, who called “New Portraits” “genius trolling” in a 2014 review, worked with Kenny Schachter, an artist and art-world gadfly, to produce an NFT of the disputed Kim Gordon image in early April. Ms. Gordon chimed in and wrote that she wondered if Mr. McNatt “will sue you too?” on Mr. Schachter’s Instagram post.
Casey Reas, an artist and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles who has dealt in NFTs for five years, noted they could be of particular appeal to content creators, whose images are so often replicated far beyond their control.
“With things in the physical, material world, ownership is pretty clear, but with digital files, it’s always been sort of a fuzzy area,” he said. “NFTs allow one person to have clear, public ownership over a digital thing, like an image or a video.”
However, those pieces of media can still go viral. “The work itself is not scarce,” Mr. Reas said. “That image can still circulate around the internet, but ownership is the thing that the NFT allows somebody to claim.” Like a physical painting, the original artist still retains copyright; unlike a physical painting, every time an NFT changes hands, the original artist gets royalties.
To Ms. Ratajkowski there’s another potential dividend: moral justice. She said that after her article was published, models started reaching out to discuss “not just their image being used, but their bodies being misused, and used for profit in ways they didn’t consent to,” she said, a topic she explores in an upcoming essay collection, “My Body,” which Metropolitan Books is planning to publish in October. Across fashion, film and the art world, she added, young women are made to “feel like they don’t need to be paid properly.”
And she said cryptocurrency experts warned her: “People are going to use your image in NFTs in one way or another, so you might as well make one.”