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A Brief Investigation Into Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson’s Coupled-Up Tattoos

Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson’s relationship has been a bit of a whirlwind: The two were only publicly dating for a few weeks before getting engaged in June. Since then, fans have been noticing new coupled-up ink pop up on both stars. The meanings of some of these tattoos are pretty straightforward; others are a bit more symbolic.

Below, we break down all the tattoos Grande and Davidson have gotten since their journey began.

Davidson and Grande’s cloud tattoos: Fans first noticed when the cloud tattoo popped up on Davidson’s Instagram in May. (Though it’s since been removed.) Two days before, Grande was spotted carrying what appeared to be Davidson’s phone, which had a cloud cover, and she also posted a cloud emoji caption to one of her photos on May 14. In the photos below, you can see what appears to be a small cloud tattoo on their middle fingers.

PHOTO: Getty Images

Davidson’s bunny ears: About a month ago, the SNL star’s tattoo artist shared a photo of a black bunny-ear mask Davidson had tattooed on his neck. Pop music fans know these ears were important iconography in Grande’s Dangerous Woman music era.

The AG on Davidson’s thumb: Welp, this one’s pretty straightforward: “AG” forms Grande’s initials.

The “8418” on Grande’s foot: E! Online clocked what appears to be the numbers “8418” tattooed on Grande’s lower left foot in July. Davidson’s father, Scott, was a firefighter who died in 9/11. His badge number? 8418.

Look closely for what appears to be ‘8418’ tattooed on Grande’s foot.

Davidson has the sequence tattooed on his left arm, too.

PHOTO: Getty Images

Davidson’s “8418” ink.

“Reborn”: Us Weekly reports that on June 18, Davidson had the word “reborn” tattooed on his hand. A few days later, Grande posted to Instagram Stories holding one of her birthday presents, and guess what was on her hand? A “reborn” tattoo.

“Pete”: Grande has apparently gotten her fiance’s first name tattooed above the first knuckle of her ring finger.

“Grande”: Davidson now has his fiancee’s last name tattooed on the side of his body.

John Elliott - Front Row - September 2018 - New York Fashion Week: The Shows

PHOTO: Getty Images

“H2GKMO”: This stands for “honest to god knock me out,” which is a favorite expression of Grande’s. The couple have it tattooed on their thumbs.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s: In September, according to People, Davidson got “mille tendresse” tattooed on the back of his neck. Grande has the same quote, which comes from Breakfast at Tiffany’s and means “a thousand tendernesses.”

2015 American Music Awards - Press Room

PHOTO: Jason Merritt

That’s it for now. Of course, we’ll update this post when Grande and Davidson have more ink, well, inked.

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Well, Ariana Grande Is Now Wearing a Sweatshirt With Pete Davidson’s Face on It

A Golf Obsession With Balance at the Core

Dane Chapin, a real-estate executive, goofs off at the Bridges Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe, a San Diego-area course. Adding a stability ball to his gym routine has improved his golf game.
Dane Chapin, a real-estate executive, goofs off at the Bridges Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe, a San Diego-area course. Adding a stability ball to his gym routine has improved his golf game. Photo: Sandy Huffaker for The Wall Street Journal

One look up close at tennis great Jimmy Connors practicing in the early 1980s gave Dane Chapin a life-changing realization: He would never reach his dream of playing the sport professionally.

Mr. Chapin, then a junior on UCLA’s tennis team, watched Mr. Connors, a UCLA alum, at practice one day. He knew he’d never come close to matching his talent, no matter how hard he worked. “While competitive tennis was not in my future, my desire to participate in competitive sports never left me,” he says.

After putting in endless hours of his life on tennis courts, Mr. Chapin traded his favorite sport for a real-estate career. But while networking on the golf course on the way to becoming chairman of Zephyr Partners, a real-estate development company in Encinitas, Calif., he rediscovered the competitive edge of his youth on the links. At 59, he is winning amateur tournaments.

Mr. Chapin, far right, with tennis greats Rod Laver and Jimmy Connors and caddie Roy Tanker in Carlsbad, Calif., in 2017.
Mr. Chapin, far right, with tennis greats Rod Laver and Jimmy Connors and caddie Roy Tanker in Carlsbad, Calif., in 2017. Photo: Martin Barba

After graduating in 1982, Mr. Chapin started playing golf for fun. At first, games were casual business outings.

“Golf gives you a magical place to develop personal and business relationships,” he says. “Many of my investors are golf buddies.”

In 2001 he joined a golf club, signed up for private lessons and began entering tournaments around Southern California.

The sport quickly went from hobby to obsession, he says. “I loved how the game blends athleticism and intellect,” he says. “And, like tennis, the primary competitor in golf is myself, which parallels life. I know I’ll do well if I do the hard work.” The scratch golfer—someone who can play to a course handicap of zero—plays six to seven amateur tournaments a year.

Mr. Chapin says he’s always been a fitness fanatic. But a year ago he intensified his gym routine by adding a stability ball to the mix. “I adapt everything you would normally do on the floor to the ball,” he says. He credits the new workout with improving his balance and coordination and says that translates on the course.

“My golf swing has never been stronger and more consistent,” says Mr. Chapin, who won his club championship this year at the Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe, a San Diego-area course.

Dane Chapin says his workout draws funny looks from members at Equinox La Costa in Carlsbad, Calif.
Sandy Huffaker for The Wall Street Journal

The Workout

Mr. Chapin hits the gym near his home in Carlsbad, Calif., at 6 a.m., six days a week. He stopped running in his 40s due to overuse injuries. For cardio, he rides the stationary bike for 45 minutes or walks on the treadmill at 4 miles an hour with a 15% incline. Every other day he does a 40-minute strength routine using a stability ball. Kneeling on top of the ball requires serious core engagement to stay balanced. “If you cheat, you fall off,” he says.

While on the ball, he might do overhead presses or oblique twists with a weighted pipe. He’ll toss a 16-pound medicine ball back and forth with a trainer, alternating between chest passes and one-hand overhead throws while balancing atop the ball. The most challenging stability exercise in his routine involves performing push-ups while balancing his feet on one ball and his hands on another. “People walk past me and just shake their heads,” he says.

He golfs three to four days a week, averaging four hours a round. In the summer he tries to sneak in a two-hour, 18-hole speed round at 7:30 a.m. so he can get to the office by 10 a.m. He spends 80% of his practice time working on shots inside 100 to 125 yards with a combination of pitches, chips, sand shots and putting. He jokes that when his daughter was younger he used “every bribe in the book” to get her to golf with him. Now 26, she has a standing monthly date with him at the golf range.

The Diet

Mr. Chapin has a smoothie at gym and a latte on the way to the office. Lunch is a turkey sandwich or a Greek salad with chicken. He says ever since he and his wife, Katherine Chapin, built an outdoor kitchen, they’ve gone from eating out five nights a week to dining in. “We grill steak, chicken or fish and vegetables and always make a salad,” he says. Watermelon is his favorite food. Once a week he splurges on Häagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream.

The Gear and Cost

Mr. Chapin spent around $2,000 on his TaylorMade clubs and Scotty Cameron Select Mallet putter. He wears FootJoy Freestyle golf shoes ($160). He always wears a wide brim hat and sunglasses and lathers himself in sunscreen. “My buddies call me Gilligan, but I’d rather deal with ridicule than get sunburn,” he says. He pays $160 a month for his Equinox gym membership.

Mr. Chapin won his club championship this year at the Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe.
Mr. Chapin won his club championship this year at the Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe. Photo: Sandy Huffaker for The Wall Street Journal

A Balancing Act for Your Golf Game

The best golfers have one thing in common: great balance. So says Randy Myers, director of golf fitness at Sea Island Resort in Sea Island, Ga. Mr. Myers, who works with over a dozen PGA Tour players, says adding a stability ball to your workout not only improves balance but can also help with hip mobility, which is key to a great golf swing.

“Being able to turn your hips in a symmetrical, balanced way can be very challenging for people who sit all day,” he says. Acrobatics on the ball aren’t necessary. “You can train yourself to jump on top of a ball, but that doesn’t make you a good golfer,” he says. “It’s also not safe.”

Mr. Myers suggests the following exercises to work hip mobility: Place a stability ball between your back and a wall and stand as if you are about to perform a squat. While keeping your lower body stable, extend and rotate your arms into a backswing position as far as you can to the right, then to the left, and repeat.

Sit on the ball, grip a light dumbbell or weighted plate and extend your arms straight out in front of you. Turn just your upper body side to side to isolate the core, keeping your hips squared. For an added challenge, hover one foot off the ground or extend it straight while keeping the hips squared. “It sounds counterintuitive, but creating stability in the hips creates mobility, and that allows you to generate speed,” he says.

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In ‘The Favourite,’ Filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos Upends a Period Piece

The main characters in “The Favourite,” a tale of love, sex and power opening the New York Film Festival on Friday, can all be found in British history.

Olivia Colman plays the 18th-century, gouty Queen Anne. Rachel Weisz is the Queen’s reputed lover and political mastermind, Lady Sarah. And Emma Stone is the upstart servant Abigail Hill, who worms her way into the Queen’s affections.


He Was More Than a Mannerist

Pontormo’s ‘Visitation’ (c. 1528-29)
Pontormo’s ‘Visitation’ (c. 1528-29) Photo: Carmignano, Pieve di San Michele Arcangelo

New York

Jacopo Pontormo (1494-1557), one of the most accomplished and intriguing painters Florence ever produced, has been maligned by history on at least two fronts. First, by the great artist biographer Giorgio Vasari, who recognized Pontormo’s gifts but depicted him as a solitary eccentric who imitated the manner of the German painter and printmaker Albrecht Dürer to a fault. And second, by art historians quick to label him as a “Mannerist,” a term that has often carried negative associations, broadly used to mean excessive artifice and often associated with a period of decline. The term isn’t wrong for Pontormo, but it’s a dead end, explaining away Pontormo’s distinctiveness while sidelining him at the same time.

Pontormo: Miraculous Encounters

The Morgan Library & Museum
Through Jan. 6, 2019

It’s not hard to understand how Pontormo got his reputation. He threw out many of the hallmark artistic achievements of the Renaissance—perspectival space; realistic portraiture; the naturalistic depiction of the human body—like so much useless baggage. In their stead, he employed high-intensity color and emotional expression. He would have given the German Expressionists a run for their money.

Now comes an opportunity for reassessment in the form of a small exhibition featuring several stunning, rarely seen works, currently on view at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York before it travels to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. “Pontormo: Miraculous Encounters,” curated by Bruce Edelstein, coordinator for graduate programs and advanced research at New York University in Florence, and Davide Gasparotto, senior curator of paintings at the Getty, centers on a magnificent altarpiece, the “Visitation” (c. 1528-29), normally housed in the church of San Michele Arcangelo in Carmignano, Tuscany, recently restored, and on view for the first time outside of Italy. It also features “Portrait of a Young Man in a Red Cap (Carlo Neroni?)” (c. 1530), never before shown in the U.S. The three venues of the show, which first opened at the Palatine Gallery in Florence, include slightly different works; the most significant and unfortunate omission at the Morgan is the Getty’s stunning portrait known as the as the “Portrait of a Halberdier (Francesco Guardi?)” (c. 1529-30), which at the Palatine paired beautifully with the “Young Man in a Red Cap.” The Morgan installation features just two paintings and three drawings, hung together in one room, but each work packs a punch.

The “Visitation” represents an encounter between the Virgin Mary and her aged cousin, St. Elizabeth, accompanied by female attendants. On one level, the meeting is portrayed as if it could be any familiar encounter between women: They greet each other warmly, touching, locking gazes. On another, it registers an encounter of great theological significance: Here are the mothers of Christ and of St. John the Baptist, both pregnant through miraculous intervention.

As one looks at the painting, its ambiguities multiply. Does it show four distinct women, or are these two women shown at two angles?: The clothes are different but the faces appear almost identical. The facial features of the Virgin and St. Elizabeth are themselves similar, with Elizabeth represented as an older version of the Virgin. Are all four women inspired by one model? These are visual games Pontormo plays, drawing you in and keeping your attention locked into a composition that is simple, even stark. In place of the elaborate perspective and architecture of many paintings of this period, Pontormo gives his figures a vaguely defined and sharply receding urban setting. Their scale comes through dramatically in the contrast with the two tiny figures perched on the bench of a palace. The work’s focus on the foreground figures gives it a contemporary feel.

Pontormo’s ‘Portrait of a Young Man in a Red Cap (Carlo Neroni?)’ (c. 1530)
Pontormo’s ‘Portrait of a Young Man in a Red Cap (Carlo Neroni?)’ (c. 1530) Photo: Collection of Mr. and Mrs. J. Tomilson Hill

The subject of “Young Man in a Red Cap,” lent from a private collection, is speculated to be Carlo Neroni, a young Florentine nobleman. The young man draws you in with his oblique glance and the mysterious note he holds. His puffed up sleeves and tightly drawn waist were the latest in military fashion, designed to protect the wearer from attacks. The clothing indicates that the painting, like the “Portrait of a Halberdier,” was probably made in the context of the Siege of Florence of 1529-30, when foreign armies allied with the Medici to overthrow the Republican government.

Not mentioned in either the exhibition or the catalog is the darker skin tone of the sitter, especially relative to the pale pink of Pontormo’s other figures. To my eye, it evokes discussions that have surrounded Pontormo’s portraits in Chicago and Philadelphia of Alessandro de’ Medici, the ill-fated Duke of Florence whose mother is thought by some to have been an African house servant, and suggests that Alessandro may not have been the only member of the Florentine nobility of mixed heritage.

Any traveler to Italy knows that one of its charms is its churches, chock-full of museum-quality art. But there are also downsides to these holy sites: insufficient lighting, no climate control, no security. Now some churches have begun to transform themselves into quasi-museums, charging admission and constructing separate entrances for tourists. This is not an option for smaller towns, and the church of Carmignano’s urgent need for repairs is the occasion of the exhibition, launched together with a crowdfunding campaign. It is an ambitious gambit, which if successful could a provide model for other struggling churches. Meanwhile, it provides an opportunity to see the “Visitation” up close, recently cleaned, and in excellent lighting. For my money, it’s the most beautiful painting in New York right now.

Is There a Chance for a Big Bang Theory Spin-Off?

The Big Bang Theory‘s bittersweet goodbye will begin on Monday night, September 24, when the long-running sitcom kicks off its twelfth and final season. The announcement to end the series—which was made earlier this month—took fans by surprise, but there’s some hope: Though the series as we know it will come to an end in May 2019, Executive Producer Steve Holland is open to a potential spin-off. If the stars align, of course.

In the meantime, the premiere episode will include the return of Kathy Bates and Teller as Amy’s parents, among other cameos. And Sheldon and Amy’s honeymoon, with trips to Legoland and New York City, is also in the mix. Lots more is in store for the final season, like Penny and Leonard’s decision about whether or not they will have children and Raj’s love life. So, we caught up with Holland to discuss all of the above and more. Read on.


PHOTO: Michael Yarish

There’s a lot to discuss before the season 12 premiere, so let’s start with Penny.

Steve Holland: Leonard and Penny are certainly going to face the discussion of kids. They’ve been married for a few years now, and her job is going well, [so a decision about whether or not to have kids] is certainly going to be a thing they’re going to confront this year.

Kaley Cuoco has previously said she doesn’t want Penny and Leonard to have kids. Do you share that same view?

SH: It’s interesting because I don’t want to spoil the [upcoming] episode, but I agree with her. It seems like an interesting point of view for one of our characters to get the chance to take. It’s exciting to explore different [scenarios] that you haven’t seen done before. [That’s when] things really get exciting.

You mentioned Penny is doing well with her job, but in the past she’s admitted it’s not the most fulfilling career. Will she stay in pharmaceutical sales, or will she give one last try at acting?

SH: Everything is obviously on the table. We haven’t written even half the season yet, but we’ve had her sort of fall back into acting in the past, so I don’t think that’s a thing we’re going to do again. We sort of talked about last season the chance of her moving in to a more PR position [at work], so I think she’ll start to be more fulfilled in her job.

Switching gears to Bernadette, she has two children under two. Are we going to see any of these children, especially in the last season?

SH: [Laughs] There’s no plans to see them, but who knows what the finale will hold? Right now, we won’t see them. But definitely those are interesting stories; we’re all parents and mothers and fathers here on staff to tell stories about balancing a job, family, and kids. We have a story coming up where they’ve built a playhouse in the backyard for their kids, and Bernadette starts hiding out in it because she needs a little bit of time to herself and feels guilty about it. We talk about all of that.

And what about Amy? Will things be different now that she and Sheldon have married?

SH: A little bit, but not in a big way. They’ve lived together before, but there are some differences. It’s not just Sheldon navigating married life, but Amy as well. She’s figuring out how to keep her identity as an individual and a scientist when she’s a part of this couple.

Is she keeping her last name?

SH: She is keeping her last name. We haven’t said it, but in the episode where they went to the chapel, she made the comment that she was going to keep her last name.


PHOTO: Michael Yarish

How do Amy’s parents factor into the premiere?

SH: They come back when Amy and Sheldon are away on their honeymoon, so they become Penny and Leonard’s problem to deal with. And they’ll be back again this season. One of the fun things about Sheldon and Amy being married is that Sheldon has this extended family he hasn’t had before. Jerry O’Connell will be back too, in episode four. And obviously, especially now that it’s the last season, there’s a list of people important to the show that we want to make sure to have back on.

How much have you thought about how the season will end?

SH: We’ve talked about it a lot. I don’t know all the pieces, but there’s an ending that Steve Molaro and Chuck Lorre and I talked about that I think we’re all really excited by. So, not all the details, but a big picture. We have an idea of where we want to land this.

What are the chances of a spin-off?

SH: Honestly, I don’t know. It’s not something that we’re thinking of right now. We still have 20 more episodes to shoot and end the season, so I guess…I don’t know. My gut instinct on it is this show works because of this ensemble, these people together. You pull a piece out, and it’s not that. But that doesn’t mean there’s not a great idea out there for another show. I don’t know.

I have one word for you: Frasier.

SH: [Laughs] I know, I know.

If there was something that came together, would you be open to it?

SH: I mean, sure. [Laughs] Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t know if the cast wants to. I know they are sad the show is coming to an end, and they’ve loved doing it, but I don’t know how much they’d want to jump in and keep playing these characters or if they’re excited for the chance to do something else. I haven’t had that conversation with them.

I think they would. The characters are so rich.

SH: It’s true, and writing the season…there’s always a little bit of panic like, We’ve done so many episodes, are there more stories to tell? Now the fear is, Do we have enough episodes to tell all the stories? [Laughs] There’s still a lot we’re excited about.

The Big Bang Theory season 12 premiere is Monday, September 24. Another new episode airs later that week, on Thursday, September 27.

Art World’s Newest Star Makes $3 Million Paintings. Is the Crash Next?

Njideka Akunyili Crosby has felt naively exploited at times.
Njideka Akunyili Crosby has felt naively exploited at times. Photo: Photo and illustration: Maxine Helfman for The Wall Street Journal


Njideka Akunyili Crosby was painting in her high-raftered studio in Los Angeles in early 2017, when she got the text from a friend. Just a few years earlier, she had been selling works for $3,000 apiece. Now, one of her paintings had just sold at Christie’s in London for $3 million, more than six times its estimate.

It has been a jet-propelled rise to the top of the contemporary art world for Ms. Akunyili Crosby—a far cry from the small town in eastern Nigeria where she grew up. The artist, 35 years old, has since won a MacArthur “genius” grant. New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art and London’s Tate Modern have come calling. At least 20 public museums are on a waiting list for works she hasn’t painted yet.

Yet when that text arrived it made Ms. Akunyili Crosby uneasy. She’d seen what happened to others caught up in the market frenzy.

Collectors in the booming contemporary art world, the engine of the global art market, are voracious for fresh stars. They have started to throng around the handful of “it” artists who emerge in any given season. That drives prices sky high and often sets them up for a crash.

Four years ago, collectors were clamoring for abstracts by Parker Ito, another young artist. Over a matter of months, his auction prices tripled, to roughly $94,000. Then sellers angling to profit from the attention flooded his market, and demand dropped off the following year. Today, Mr. Ito’s auction prices rarely top $5,000. Mr. Ito declined to comment.

Buyers speculated on Sterling Ruby’s spray-painted abstracts, paying as much as $1.7 million four years ago for pieces like “SP51.” Last year, works from the same series were auctioned for roughly a third as much. Mr. Ruby declined to comment.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby, one of the young stars of the contemporary art world, talks about her influences at her studio in Los Angeles. Video/Photo: Alex Hotz/The Wall Street Journal

And then there are artists who have all but disappeared from rotation in major auction catalogs after enjoying a few seasons of ubiquity.

“A lot of people in the art business get young artists and just wreck them—they ruin them,” said Randall Exon, a studio art professor at Swarthmore College who taught Ms. Akunyili Crosby.

Ms. Akunyili Crosby’s dealer at London’s Victoria Miro Gallery, Glenn Scott Wright, said he’s not worried about her longevity and told her this pump-and-dump initiation is “the nature of the beast now.”

Last year, global auction sales totaled roughly $28.5 billion, up 27% from the year before. Contemporary art—created by those born after 1910—accounted for about 46% of fine-art auction sales last year, according to Clare McAndrew of research firm Arts Economics.

Ms. Akunyili Crosby said she’s grateful for her success, but wishes someone had taught her how to navigate the attention. She’s felt naively exploited at times. She’s skittish about showing in New York galleries after getting entangled in a legal dispute with one. Auctions are particularly nerve-racking. If bidders push up prices too quickly, her gallery may not be able to persuade new buyers to pay similarly high amounts. That can gut an artist’s price levels permanently.

She is getting savvier, learning ways to steer her works to buyers who might not resell them quickly for profits. But the ultimate control over her work and her career remains elusive.

“My friends tell me I should just be happy my works are selling, and I am,” she said. The marketplace is now her tightrope. “It’s scary how vulnerable I still feel.”

Earlier this year, Ms. Akunyili Crosby wallpapered the exterior of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles with images that examine her notions of home, in ‘Obodo (Country/City/Town/Ancestral Village).’
Earlier this year, Ms. Akunyili Crosby wallpapered the exterior of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles with images that examine her notions of home, in ‘Obodo (Country/City/Town/Ancestral Village).’ Photo: Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Victoria Miro, London/Venice
From Home to Harlem

Njideka Akunyili (in-jee-DECK-uh ack-un-YEE-lee) Crosby grew up far from the frenzied art market, in Enugu, Nigeria, where she and her five siblings spoke Igbo interchangeably with English.

Her father, J.C. Akunyili, was a doctor at a local university hospital; her mother, Dora, was a pharmacology professor who went on to oversee Nigeria’s food and drug agency. Money was tight for luxuries such as toys, so the children usually made their own. Ms. Akunyili Crosby once made a doll for her sister by attaching a ping-pong ball to a matchbox.

In 1997, her mother applied for and won America’s green-card lottery, offered to 50,000 people a year selected at random. Ms. Akunyili and her husband stayed in Nigeria, but with the green card they were able to send their children to the U.S. to study.

Ms. Akunyili Crosby first attended a community college in Philadelphia, then was admitted to Swarthmore College. She intended to become a doctor, like her father. On a lark, she took an art class and fell in love with drawing and painting. She also met her husband, Justin, in college.

‘When the Going Is Smooth and Good’ (2017) shows the artist dancing with her husband, Justin Crosby, also an artist.
‘When the Going Is Smooth and Good’ (2017) shows the artist dancing with her husband, Justin Crosby, also an artist. Photo: Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Victoria Miro, London/Venice

After graduating in 2004 with a degree in biology and studio art, she moved home for six months and realized the Nigeria she knew as a girl—a culture that prized tea and tins of corned beef over local fare because of its colonial connections—was rapidly changing. The stylish young women she saw were wearing traditional Nigerian fabrics and going to Nollywood films made by and starring Nigerians. “It was so exciting to see people reclaiming their traditions and transforming them,” she said.

She decided she had to paint contemporary Nigeria, and the disconnect she felt living so far away. Back in the U.S., she attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before eventually ending up in the prestigious master of fine arts program at Yale. She initially struggled—a friend and former classmate, Christian Flynn, recalls students staring perplexed at one of her nude-couple paintings—but she kept experimenting.

The fall of her second year, she hit upon the style she is known for today: lush scenes of herself and her family members dressed fashionably and hanging out in homes in cities like Lagos, New Haven, Conn., or Los Angeles. Her interiors are embedded with objects like teapots, plastic dolls and potted plants that touch on her feelings about intimacy, migration and juggling old traditions with new. She often tops her compositions with transfer-printed photographs of Nigerian politicians or pop-culture stars, creating a silk-screen effect.

“Her work is the strongest painting I’ve seen in a long time,” said artist Charles Gaines. “When black people paint, we assume they’re dealing with race or politics, and that’s a postcolonial problem that was unanswered until Njideka,” he added. “She’s painting her ordinary.”

A portrait of Ms. Akunyili Crosby with layered images, made in collaboration with the artist.
A portrait of Ms. Akunyili Crosby with layered images, made in collaboration with the artist. Photo: Photo and illustration: Maxine Helfman for The Wall Street Journal

Ms. Akunyili Crosby arrived just as the market was poised to propel her, spurred by museums and collectors who have started to champion black artists from Africa as well as from the U.S.

It didn’t take long for her works to catch the attention of a handful of dealers and collectors who regularly make the rounds of top art schools every spring to scout potential talent.

One of the regular scouts was Jack Tilton, who ran an eponymous gallery in New York and who died last year. His wife, Connie Rogers Tilton, said he was immediately intrigued.

Mr. Tilton offered to pay $5,000 for “I Refuse to Be Invisible,” a painting of Ms. Akunyili Crosby dancing with her husband, in which she stares out confidently at the viewer. She accepted. The sum would pay several months’ rent.

Another New York dealer, Jessica Fredericks, offered to include three of Ms. Akunyili Crosby’s paintings in a group show at her gallery, Fredericks & Freiser. Ms. Fredericks asked to buy one of the works, and said she would try to sell the others to collectors, Ms. Akunyili Crosby said. At the opening, the artist later told friends, Ms. Fredericks handed her a check for the sale of all three works for $8,000 each, minus a 10% collector’s discount.

The next game-changer was winning a prized yearlong residency at the Studio Museum of Harlem in New York in 2011-12. Thelma Golden, the museum’s longtime director, has a reputation for finding and nurturing art stars. Ms. Akunyili Crosby painted a dozen works that year—her most productive to date.

The Studio Museum of Harlem bought this 2012 view of the artist and her husband, ‘Nwantinti,’ at the end of her residency at the museum.
The Studio Museum of Harlem bought this 2012 view of the artist and her husband, ‘Nwantinti,’ at the end of her residency at the museum. Photo: Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Victoria Miro, London/Venice
Making Her Market

As her residency was winding down, Mr. Tilton, who was acting as one of her unofficial dealers by this point, offered her a solo booth at one of the world’s most prestigious art fairs, Art Basel in Switzerland. For decades, tens of thousands of collectors have descended for a week each June to see works from 300 galleries from around the world.

Ms. Akunyili Crosby gave him a group of works she’d painted during her residency. Mr. Tilton told her that Don and Mera Rubell, major Miami collectors known for championing young artists, had expressed interest in buying a work, she said, and she agreed the connection to their public collection could boost her profile. She suggested Mr. Tilton give them a first chance to buy “5 Umezebi St, New Haven, Enugu,” which showed off her signature style.

Mr. Tilton told her he would try, Ms. Akunyili Crosby said. Instead he sold the work to one of his longtime clients, Craig Robins, a Miami real-estate developer who started tracking the artist when she was in Harlem. Mr. Robins said he was unaware of Ms. Akunyili Crosby’s request.

The Rubells said they stopped by Mr. Tilton’s booth but were told they were too late, she said. Ms. Akunyili Crosby started wondering if galleries were looking out for her interests.

“It’s first come, first served, and we were absolutely looking out for her,” Ms. Rogers Tilton said.

Ms. Akunyili Crosby decided to start an archive with detailed ownership records. That way, she could keep track of her paintings in case other galleries or curators ever asked to show them. She asked Mr. Tilton and the other gallery in New York, Fredericks & Freiser, for the names of people to whom they had sold her early works.

She didn’t know that dealers often closely guard identities and afterlives of the pieces they sell, even keeping artists in the dark. Some worry artists may start selling directly to their collectors, cutting out dealers as middlemen. Other galleries might poach their collectors as well. Some artists don’t care, but when they do, disputes can arise. This is what happened with Ms. Akunyili Crosby and Fredericks & Freiser.

Ms. Akunyili Crosby said she isn’t allowed to discuss the details of the legal dispute she raised with the gallery in 2012 because she later reached a confidential settlement. She referred questions about the dispute to her lawyer, Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento.

According to other dealers and friends she discussed the matter with at the time, including her Yale classmate Mr. Flynn, Ms. Akunyili Crosby started sending emails to the gallery asking for the names of the people who had bought her works from the show just after graduation.

At first, these people say, the gallery told her it sold two of the pieces to collectors, in addition to the one painting the gallery bought. After she pressed for more specifics, the gallery said the buyers were actually one person. Moreover, this buyer had changed his mind and sent the paintings back, friends said.

A detail of ‘As We See You: Dreams of Jand’ (2017).
A detail of ‘As We See You: Dreams of Jand’ (2017). Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick for The Wall Street Journal
A detail of ‘Home: As You See Me’ (2017). Ms. Akunyili Crosby layers pop-culture figures such as James Bond and Michael Jackson onto her scenes of life in Nigeria and abroad.
A detail of ‘Home: As You See Me’ (2017). Ms. Akunyili Crosby layers pop-culture figures such as James Bond and Michael Jackson onto her scenes of life in Nigeria and abroad. Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick for The Wall Street Journal

Ms. Akunyili Crosby told friends she hired Mr. Sarmiento, who sent the gallery a letter seeking the whereabouts of the works. She told them she worried the gallery hadn’t sold the works and instead was holding them to potentially resell for a higher price later. This stockpiling move is relatively common among galleries, and it isn’t frowned upon so long as the artist is aware of the arrangement.

James Greenberg, a lawyer for the gallery, said the gallery couldn’t discuss the matter and confirmed that “an agreement was reached privately.” Mr. Sarmiento also confirmed a settlement was signed but declined to discuss the dispute further.

As part of the 2013 settlement, Ms. Akunyili Crosby’s friends said the artist was allowed to buy one of her works back for around $20,000, or 150% more than the original price. She bought “Nyado: The Thing Around her Neck.”

Around this time, Christie’s expert Vivian Brodie said she and her colleagues started getting inquiries from collectors. Did the auction houses have any work by the artist coming up for bid?

Ms. Akunyili Crosby at the Baltimore Museum of Art, where a ‘Counterparts’ show of her work opened last fall. It reopens Dec. 1 at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
Ms. Akunyili Crosby at the Baltimore Museum of Art, where a ‘Counterparts’ show of her work opened last fall. It reopens Dec. 1 at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick for The Wall Street Journal
Auction Fever

In early September 2016, David Galperin and three other experts at Sotheby’s auction house huddled around a computer in their New York office to look at an image emailed to them by a potential consignor. The 5-foot-tall work on offer, “Drown,” showed a naked couple in bed, the woman’s coffee-colored limbs wrapped around a pale man.

In today’s contemporary art market, frustrated collectors who can’t wrangle a work by a coveted artist from their galleries often turn to auction houses for help. Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips can promise vast sums to sellers to entice them to part with pieces by hot-right-now artists. In this arena, auction houses no longer serve as disinterested brokers; they’re market makers.

Mr. Galperin and his team agreed to try out Ms. Akunyili Crosby for Sotheby’s high-stakes November sales in New York. “Drown,” which had a low estimate of $200,000, sold for $1 million.

Mr. Galperin said that price “got the ricochet started” and soon “works were coming out of the woodworks,” supplied by people who had collected her pieces early on. The following spring, six more works surfaced in major sales.

In March 2017, a 2013 portrait of her eldest sister titled “The Beautyful Ones” sold in London at Christie’s for $3 million—prompting the congratulatory text from her friend. The seller was a Belgian diamond jeweler, Charles Berkovic, who had bought it three years earlier for around $20,000.

After the sale, Ms. Akunyili Crosby said she asked Mr. Tilton to contact his buyers of her paintings to ask if they would be willing to hold on to her works for the time being—or at least resell pieces privately, rather than at auction. She wanted to make sure her prices didn’t climb to levels she couldn’t sustain after the fever invariably cooled off.

‘Mama, Mummy and Mamma’ (2014).
‘Mama, Mummy and Mamma’ (2014). Photo: Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Victoria Miro, London/Venice

Roughly a month later, Mr. Tilton, who was battling cancer, called to tell Ms. Akunyili Crosby that his gallery had consigned her seminal early work, “I Refuse to Be Invisible,” to Christie’s marquee May sales, she said. Christie’s estimated it could resell the work for between $1.5 million and $2 million.

“Can you back out of the deal? Is it too late?” she said she asked him. Auction houses aren’t obligated to tell anyone the names of its winning bidders. A contract had already been signed, he told her.

He died on May 7, nearly two weeks before the sale. His wife said the sale was a way to get his affairs in order.

The work attracted bids from at least four American collectors. The winner, who remains anonymous, paid $2.6 million.

The following night at Sotheby’s, Miami collector Eric Feder auctioned off another work by Ms. Akunyili Crosby, “Thread,” that he had bought for around $30,000 in 2011. The painting sold for $1 million.

Minutes later in the same sale, Theo Danjuma, the son of a Nigerian ex-general, sold the artist’s “Harmattan Haze” for $1.2 million after paying roughly $32,000 for it less than two years before.

Back in Los Angeles, Ms. Akunyili Crosby was flattered that people bid on her work, but she couldn’t shake the fear that she had lost control over her prices. Her new London gallery, Victoria Miro, promised to hold off on selling any works to private collectors and sell only to museums.

Since then, another six pieces have filtered into auctions, but most have been minor, early works. She managed to convince at least one Los Angeles collecting couple to resell another portrait in her “Beautyful Ones” series through her gallery instead of putting it up for auction.

She continues to funnel new paintings like “Dwell: Aso Ebi” to museums such as the Baltimore Museum of Art. The museum, which recently gave her a solo show, didn’t divulge the price it paid. Ms. Akunyili Crosby said she tries to sell pieces to museums for prices in the low six figures.

The Baltimore Museum of Art bought ‘Dwell: Aso Ebi’ (2017), which layers her wedding portrait and that of her parents. The teapot nods to the artist’s grandmother.
The Baltimore Museum of Art bought ‘Dwell: Aso Ebi’ (2017), which layers her wedding portrait and that of her parents. The teapot nods to the artist’s grandmother. Photo: Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Victoria Miro, London/Venice

She’s also created murals in Los Angeles and in Brixton, England, that can’t be auctioned because they are temporary pieces.

In a recent twist, she donated one of her paintings to the Studio Museum of Harlem to resell in a benefit auction. Sotheby’s estimated her 2017 botanical piece, “Bush Babies,” would sell for up to $800,000 on May 18. It sold for $3.4 million, a record for the artist.

Related reading

Write to Kelly Crow at

Appeared in the September 22, 2018, print edition as ‘Star Painter’s New Task: Holding On.’

More Evidence A Nintendo 64 Classic May Be On The Horizon

For the last couple of years gamers have been talking incessantly about an N64 Classic Edition. Why not? I mean, we have the NES Classic Edition, and the highly successful follow-up the SNES Classic Edition, and now we’re getting the PlayStation Classic this December. Would it really be out of the norm to want an N64 Classic Edition? Well, all of the clamor and the chatter to rekindle some love for some of the most iconic video games in the history of gaming could be coming to a head in a tangible way. Rumors and discussion about the N64 Classic Edition is no longer just rumors and discussion, because there has now been some element of evidence surfacing which indicate that a Nintendo 64 Classic may be on the horizon.

According to Business Insider, Nintendo recently made a European trademark filing for a “Classic Edition.” If you follow through to the EUTM file information regarding the trademark, you’ll see that Nintendo input the application back in July of 2017, and the examination was completed on February 17th, 2018. The filing was published that very same month and the opposition period ended in May of this year. After all the filing and paperwork was completed, the trademark for the “Classic Edition” was registered on August 30th, 2018. The expiry isn’t until 2027.

If you scuffle down the filing, you’ll see that there’s a big ‘ole graphical representation for the filing, which includes the undeniable outline of a Nintendo 64 analog controller. The three prongs extend from the bottom, with the start button in the center of the pad, just above the iconic analog stick resting in the middle prong. The ‘A’ and ‘B’ buttons are off to the right of the analog, along with the four C-direction buttons on the far right of the controller, which is typically where the four face buttons are located.

Most notable, however, is that the trademark was filed by Nintendo of Japan. Some of you might remember that a few months ago Nintendo of Japan also filed a trademark in Japan for a “Classic Edition.”

Business Insider notes that the significance of this particular trademark filing is that it’s actually identical to the other trademark filings Nintendo made for the NES Classic Edition and the SNES Classic Edition. The article even shows the original trademark images, which — sure enough — feature a top-down look at an NES controller in black and white.

The thing is, when reached for comment, Nintendo said they had nothing to announce on the topic at this time.

While some people might assume the N64 Classic Edition would be announced to compete with the PlayStation Classic Edition, the trademark filing gives Nintendo a good decade to make good on the proposition. It doesn’t mean that we have to see an N64 retro console released right now, it just means that if Nintendo wanted to release one right now, it most certainly could.

Of course, this gives gamers, media outlets and YouTubers plenty of time to come up with top 10, top 20, or top 30 lists to put together the ideal line-up for what they would like to see featured in the retro mini-console‘s pre-loaded software stash, assuming that it’s actually coming. If it is coming, what games would you like to see bundled into the N64 Classic Edition?

Henry Cavill’s 7 Best Superman Moments So Far

Flying For The First Time

There’s no denying that Man of Steel is a darker adaptation of the Superman mythos, but in the midst of Clark’s conflicts, both external and internal, is a moment of pure joy. It wouldn’t be a Superman movie without seeing the central character fly, something Henry Cavill’s iteration didn’t know he was capable of until he activated the Kryptonian scout ship and met the Jor-El AI, who informed him of his origins. Upon putting on the uniform displaying the El crest, Clark went outside and tried flying for the first time. It was hard going at first, but after calming himself and remembering his “father’s” words, Clark finally stuck the launch and swiftly traveled across the world. He’d already proven himself a hero, but reaching these new heights (figuratively and literally) arguably marked his first proper step towards becoming Superman.

This Meteorologist Had a Powerful Response to a Complaint That Her Natural Hair Wasn’t ‘Normal’

It’s 2018 and for some reason people are still taking it upon themselves to tell women of color how to wear their hair. The latest case? WBBJ TV meteorologist and multimedia journalist Corallys Ortiz was criticized by a viewer for wearing her hair natural on air. As first reported by The Jackson Sun, a viewer called in and requested that Ortiz wear her hair “more normal,” followed by an alleged racial slur. As frustrating and downright unacceptable as this situation was, Ortiz rose above the comments and took the time to write a powerful response on her Facebook page.

Along with her Facebook post, Ortiz recorded a video where she played back the voicemail from the woman. “Please don’t wear your hair like that anymore. It just doesn’t look good at all. Please don’t. Change it back to something more normal,” the caller says, followed by what sounds like inaudible slurs.

“When I heard her say I should wear my hair ‘normal’, I just rolled my eyes. But what I didn’t expect was to hear a racial slur at the end of the message,” the meteorologist, who is based in Jackson, Tennessee, tells Glamour. “In this decade we are still being criticized for the hair that naturally grows out of our head. That’s how conditioned this society has been to white beauty standards. The viewer actually had called a total of three times [to complain]. It really bothered her that much.”

Ortiz is of Caribbean descent and explained why she decided to wear her hair natural on air that day. “These past few days I’ve been giving my hair a bit of a break from this heat and humidity and not having to straighten it so often,” she wrote on Facebook. “This is only my second round wearing it [natural] the 10 months I’ve been in Tennessee.”

The comment is especially loaded because, for years, natural hair has been deemed as “unprofessional” and has a big impact on how women of color are viewed in the workplace. There’s been extra pressure placed on us to conform to more “palatable” ideals.

“What many people may not know is that being in the TV industry there is a ‘standard’ in which people are made to have their hair worn,” Ortiz wrote on Facebook. “The issue with this is that it always targets and pressures women of color to present their hair in ways that are unnatural just for the sake of having their hair look ‘professional.’ For years on end women of color have always been told their hair wasn’t professional or ‘neat’ enough for the workplace, and for years women of color would have to adhere to ‘white beauty standards’ in order to get ahead. Slowly but surely over the years, those standards have been changing in this field and we see more and more women of color being able to present themselves with their natural hair on TV.”

That’s why, criticism be damned, Ortiz says she’s going to continue to wear her hair natural on air. “I wear my hair straight 90 percent of the time, so when I wear it curly how does that even impact the way I do my job? It doesn’t,” she says. “Also, I think representation matters. I’ve had viewers tell me they appreciate me being myself because they see how their daughters, who have the same hair type as me, feel more confident. That’s so important.”

As Ortiz mentioned, she joins a growing number of on-air reporters who have recently made the decision to wear their hair natural. “I wear my hair in several ways on air, but I feel the freest when it’s in a natural style,” says Kimberly Shine, a TV reporter and anchor from Indiana. “Until recently, I’d always been scared or discouraged from any other style than straight.”

For so many women of color, wearing their natural hair on air means so much more than a hairstyle, it’s setting the precedent and paving the way for other journalists in the making. “In this business, wearing natural styles forces diversity—and conversation,” says Shine. “But more than that, it shows black youth and black aspiring journalists that ‘we’ matter. Representation is extremely important. Of course, everyone’s hair is different, but it can still be professional. Our hair is unique and nothing we should be afraid of showcasing.”

Even still, Shine says it’s not just commenters committing these microaggressions. Managers, too, have long been part of the problem: “I was once told I couldn’t wear a braided/rod-curl style on air. That was years ago, and I was younger then, so I did what I was told.” Since then, she says she’s grown more confident in herself and the work she does—thanks partially, in fact, to social media. “It was a big help,” Shine says. “I started following some journalism ladies who wear their hair natural on air, and that encouraged me even more.”

These days, Shine says it’s mostly getting better in the newsroom. Management, coworkers, and viewers have all been supportive of her—but that isn’t the case everywhere. “Unfortunately, it sometimes all depends on the TV market where you work,” she says. “I feel like you have more leniency in smaller cities, than in the larger ones. But regardless, no one can deny good work. If your work is strong, it’s all about finding a natural hairstyle that compliments you.”

And thankfully, on a larger scale, women like CNN commentator Angela Rye are using their positions at national news outlets to champion both natural hair and protective styles. “I thought wearing my hair on CNN in cornrows wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t think twice about it,” Rye shared in the October issue of Glamour. “But a number of black women responded, saying, ‘Oh my God, thank you so much for doing this. Now I know I can do this in a professional setting.’ A lot of people are just starting to accept that how black women wear their hair is a form of self-expression.”

Doing so shouldn’t have to be “brave,” and yet, as Senait Gebregiorgis, multimedia journalist and fill-in anchor at Fox Illinois News, points out, that’s exactly what it’s taken for women of color to get to this point. “I can write a novel sharing my journey and what it took for me to have the courage to wear my hair the way it is on television. I remember thinking why try to look or be like everyone else when I can be myself?” she tells Glamour. “As reporters, our duties include being a watchdog; telling the stories viewers care about and serving our community. But oftentimes we forget one of the best ways to accomplish that is to be relatable and represent who we serve; whether that’s keeping your name [instead of a stage name] or wearing the hair god blessed you with.”

The freedom that comes with it allows these women to do their job uninhibited by the pressures of societal beauty ideals. “The day I decided to ditch my flatiron, I felt like a weight lifted off of my shoulders,” says Amina Smith, an on-air host at Stadium Sports Network. “I could just be myself on-air, not what the industry wanted me to be.”

At the end of the day, Gebregiorgis says it best: “My hair is a part of my identity. So what do you do with what you were given? You rock it.”

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Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 Reveals Some Of The Post-Release Free Content

For a lot of games it’s almost unheard of for a AAA title to release without a DLC roadmap. In fact, some might call it corporate blasphemy to have a major $100 million dollar project out in the wild without any sort of post-launch plans or monetization efforts. It’s a rarity, like a unicorn. Of course, for every other major project that releases there are lots of content packs and expansions planned long after the release of the game, which is exactly what Activision and Treyarch have setup for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. It was recently announced exactly what sort of post-launch content gamers can expect for the first-person shooter game, and not all of it is paid DLC. In fact, some of the content you can expect to receive will actually be free.

Over on the PlayStation Blog it was revealed by Activision’s editorial manager, Kevin Kelly, that post-launch content for Black Ops 4 will release first on the PlayStation 4 and that some of the new content will be free.

Gamers will get their first taste of content with the return of the Nuketown map starting in November, following the release of Black Ops 4 on October 12th. So, just one month after release the first downloadable map for the game will be made available. And, yes, Nuketown will be free for PlayStation 4 owners first.

According to the list of free content, Nuketown will be depicted with an “all-new take,” so don’t expect it to be the exact same map that you’ve played across many of the previous Call of Duty games.

Following the release of Nuketown, the game will receive all new specialist characters starting in December. If we’re going by the usual roll-out of content, this likely means that we can expect the Xbox One and PC versions of Black Ops 4 to receive the free Nuketown update starting in December, and then the new specialists will likely be available in January.

Treyarch also has plans on evolving the Blackout mode. According to the description, Blackout will receive “regular map updates” as well as new expansions and modes. Expect Treyarch to put in some time and effort with Black Ops 4’s mode much in the same way that Epic Games fosters and evolves the Battle Royale mode in Fortnite.

Last, but not least, are events. The events within the game will be free for everyone to enjoy. This includes seasonal, weekly, and time-limited events that may include certain modes on certain maps. The post doesn’t explain exactly what sort of specialty events we can expect from the game, but, given that Activision and Treyarch are intent on fostering the growth of the community long after release, be sure to stay on the lookout for all sorts of crazy content to appear with the seasonal and weekly events.

All of this comes on the heels of a strong beta test that took place for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, where a lot of fans and content creators gave Treyarch tons of positive feedback for doing right by the brand. You can look for the first-person shooter to launch in full next month on the PS4, PC, and Xbox One, starting October 12th.