Dhaka, Dec 23 (AP/UNB) - A painting that was stolen during World War II and later spent decades in a Connecticut home will be returned to an art museum in Ukraine, according to U.S. and Ukrainian officials.
The FBI seized the painting after a retired couple in Ridgefield transported it to Washington, D.C., to be auctioned last year. The couple, David and Gabby Tracy, had long cherished the painting but figured it was a copy, not the signed original.
Standing nearly 8 feet tall (2.4 meters), the painting depicts the 16th century Russian czar Ivan the Terrible looking crestfallen as he flees the Kremlin on horseback.
It had been left behind in a Ridgefield home that David Tracy bought in 1987. The previous couple in the home said the painting was already there when they purchased the house from a Swiss man in 1962.
When Tracy and his wife moved to a different house in the area, they paid $37,000 to add a sunroom big enough to display the painting.
"This painting was a beautiful painting, and we treasured it," Gabby Tracy, 84, told The Associated Press on Saturday. "You couldn't help but admire the fine painting, what detail was in Ivan's face."
But as they made plans to move to a condominium in Maine last year, they realized the painting wouldn't fit. They hired an auctioning company near Washington to sell the work, which was appraised at about $5,000.
After the auction house added the painting to its catalog, though, an employee received an urgent email from an art museum in Ukraine.
"Attention! Painting 'Ivan the Terrible' was in the collection of the Dnepropetrovsk Art Museum until 1941 and was stolen during the Second World War," the email said, according to court documents. "Please stop selling this painting at auction!!!"
The museum identified the painting as a 1911 work by Mikhail Panin, titled "Secret Departure of Ivan the Terrible Before the Oprichina." It was a permanent exhibit at the Ukrainian museum until 1941 but disappeared during Nazi occupation of the city.
FBI officials took custody of the painting and later traced it to the Swiss man who sold the Ridgefield home in 1962. Officials didn't release his name but said he moved to the U.S. in 1946 after serving in the Swiss Army. He died in 1986. Gabby Tracy said it's unknown how he obtained the painting.
After learning it had been stolen, the Tracy couple agreed the painting should be returned to Ukraine. The story particularly moved Gabby, who was born in Slovakia and survived the Holocaust. Her father, Samuel Weiss, died in a concentration camp.
"There was never a question that it was going back. It's just sad that we had to go through this experience," Gabby said. "It's ironic that I should have been so worried about keeping this painting safe."
Federal officials filed paperwork Thursday formally passing the painting from the FBI to the U.S. District Attorney's Office in Washington, which is turning it over to Ukraine's embassy.
"The looting of cultural heritage during World War II was tragic, and we are happy to be able to assist in the efforts to return such items to their rightful owners," U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu said in a statement Friday.
Officials at Ukraine's embassy thanked the Tracy couple and U.S. officials who helped recover the painting. A statement from spokeswoman Natalia Solyeva said it's the first time the two nations have worked together to recover stolen cultural goods.
"The Embassy of Ukraine was excited to work with its American partners on the case of returning the painting to its rightful owners — the people of Ukraine," the statement said.
London, Dec 22 (Xinhua/UNB) -London's Big Ben will chime at midnight on New Year's Eve with its iconic big bongs, British Parliament confirmed Friday.
The coming new year will herald the 160th anniversary of the year one of the world's best known clocks started keeping time for the nation.
At midnight exactly, Big Ben will ring 12 times, replicating the usual strike rate of 4.5 seconds. To make this possible, a bespoke electric mechanism has been built to power the 200kg striking hammer.
The Elizabeth Tower, the formal name for the clock tower, is currently undergoing a complex conservation program to safeguard the 159-year-old iconic clock for generations to come.
As one of London's most photographed attractions, the clock tower is now clad in scaffolding, with its clock hands and the 159-year-old clock mechanism completely disconnected and dismantled for the first time.
It is part of a specialist task to restore the historic building to its former glory. Experts from around Britain are involved in the huge task of restoring the landmark, combining ancient craftsmanship with cutting edge modern techniques.
"This is the most significant restoration of the Elizabeth Tower in its entire history, with many challenges and complexities emerging since the project began," said principal architect Adam Watrobski.
According to Watrobski, the first newly painted clock dial will be revealed next year.
Measuring 2.7m across and 2.2m high, the 13.7-tonne bell could produce musical note E when struck and will be test rung on a number of occasions ahead of the New Year celebration.
Dhaka, Dec 21 (UNB) - A get-together programme ‘Poetry Evening on Hafez Shirazi’ was held at Iran Cultural Centre in the city on Friday.
Iran Cultural Centre in Dhaka arranged the programme on the occasion of ‘Shab-e-Yalda’, a traditional night of Iran (The longest night of the year).
Ambassador of Iran in Bangladesh Mohammad Reza Nafar and Poet Asad Chowdhury were present at the programme as special guests.
Speakers said the influence of Hafez's literature exists in Bangla literature. The national poet of Bangaladesh Kazi Nazrul Islam has helped Bangla literature enrich through translating Diwane Hafez’s poetries.
Poet Asad Chowdhury, Shihab Sarker, Hasan Hafiz, and Shah Newaz Tabib recited during the programme.
A documentary on ' Shab- e-Yalda' was screened as part of the programme.
Acting cultural counselor Dr Seyed Mahdi Hosseini Faegh delivered the welcome speech.
Egypt, Dec 16 (AP/UNB) — Egypt on Saturday announced the discovery of a private tomb belonging to a senior official from the 5th dynasty of the pharaohs, which ruled roughly 4,400 years ago.
Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani announced the find at the site of the tomb in Saqqara, just west of Cairo, which is also home to the famed Step Pyramid.
He said drawings on the tomb's walls were "exceptionally well-preserved." The drawings depicted the official and his family, he added.
The tomb also contained a total of 45 statues carved in rock. Again, they depict the official and his family.
In recent years, Egypt has heavily promoted new archaeological finds to international media and diplomats in the hope of attracting more tourists to the country. The vital tourism sector has suffered from the years of political turmoil and violence that followed a 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
Dhaka, Dec 12 (UNB) - Bangladesh High Commission in Abuja, Nigeria is participating in the Asian Film Festival for the first time which will continue until December 14.
Ten countries, including Bangladesh, are participating in the festival, formally inaugurated on December 10, at the Korean Cultural Centre, Abuja.
It marks the second yearly gala (2nd Asian Film Festival), said the Bangladesh High Commission.
Rina Brown, a Bangladeshi movie, was screened on Tuesday which earned the appreciation of the audience.
Ambassadors and High Commissioners, their spouses, members of the diplomatic crops, representatives from the Nigerian government, members of the civil society and cultural organisations, movie-lovers and expatriate community members were present.
While thanking the government of Bangladesh as well as the organisers for their generous support, Bangladesh High Commissioner to Nigeria M Shameem Ahsan
felt that this gala will help create greater understanding among the participating countries.
Drawn from a story against the backdrop of the great War of Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, Rina Brown moves on the budding relationship between two youngsters.
Written and directed by Shameem Akhtar, a noted filmmaker in Bangladesh, the Impress Telefilm’s movie was made with government grant.
Barun Chanda, Mahfuz Rizvi and Proma Paboni portrayed the lead roles while other important casts, among others, are Shampa Reza, Farhana Mithu, Ataur Rahman, Saberi Alam, Manash Chowdhury and Prabal Chowdhury.