Globetrotting: news from around the world — May 2015

Prolific art forger Mark Landis donated his fake paintings to galleries and collectors for more than 30 years. Plus, new research shows that younger generations prefer paper books to ereaders.

PAINTING

The prolific con artist

For more than 30 years, Mark Landis posed as a wealthy collector, donating paintings to museums and art galleries in the US. The problem was, the works were all fakes he had painted himself. But since they were gifts, he was never prosecuted, reports the BBC.

Many institutions were embarrassed for having accepted offerings — signed by Paul Signac and others — that were in fact counterfeits. What ultimately gave Landis away is that he "donated" copies of the same work to many institutions.

After being diagnosed with schizophrenia as an adolescent, Landis discovered his talent for copying in art therapy sessions. He never took more than a couple of hours to finish a piece.

Two years ago, in a gesture typical of the art world, the University of Cincinnati gave an exhibition of Landis counterfeits. Landis was the guest of honour. It opened on April Fool’s Day.

READING HABITS

The new book worms

Bookworm 

They may be hooked on iPhones, YouTube and Facebook, but when it comes to reading, younger generations still prefer good old paper tomes, says Deloitte’s TMT Predictions 2015 report.

A decade after the launch of ereaders, sales of ebooks have been slowing or even stagnating, but as of December 2014, sales of paper books had increased by 2% year over year. In the US, 92% of 18-to-29-year-olds read paper books in 2013.

In a different survey, nearly half of 16-to-34-year-olds said that "ebooks will never take the place of real books for me." One UK survey found that 62% of 16-to-34-year-olds prefer print books over ebooks. Why? They "like the smell" and "want full bookshelves."

TOILET POWER

Waste not

A UK research project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is developing a toilet unit that transforms waste into clean water.  In turn, electricity produced from the waste serves to power the unit, and can leave a little extra to charge a cellular phone, reports News.com.

Aimed at developing countries, the toilet incorporates a nanomembrane that blocks the waste and pathogens, letting only water molecules through. The collected water is clean enough to be used for washing or irrigating fields and, with just a little more filtering, can even be drinkable.

BANKING

Boiling over Basel IV

Bank 

With the proposed new regulations that some are calling "Basel IV," banks will be restricted in using internal models to determine risk and to calculate their capital requirements, reports Euromoney. Reliance on external credit ratings will also be limited.

Bankers, requesting anonymity, called the measures "overzealous and misguided." Euromoney called them "political dynamite" and said they "threaten sacred cows to national banking systems, from small German banks to large mortgage lenders."

Many bankers were already unhappy with Basel III, which imposed higher levels of reserve capital in banks. Now their frustration has hit new highs — but the final outcome of the proposals remains to be seen.