Pablo Picasso’s beloved French villa sold to New Zealand financier Rayo Withanage

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A New Zealand financier who bought Pablo Picasso’s former mansion on the French Riviera earlier this year at auction has two months to come up with $33 million after allegedly failing to come with the cash.

Rayo Withanage, a New Zealand citizen of Sri Lankan and Portuguese descent who grew up in Auckland, Bermuda, and Brunei, was the highest bidder at auction in June for Mas de Notre-Dame de Vie, the estate at Mougins in the hills above Cannes where the famous Spanish artist spent his twilight years.

But Dutch Achmea Bank selling the 15-bedroom estate, described as being one of the most spectacular and famous houses on the Côte d’Azur, put it back under the hammer Thursday because it said Withanage “hadn’t yet got together the funds” to complete the sale.

A local judge gave Withanage two extra months to come up with the money, however, after no other bidder came forward yesterday.

“We have been in discussions with him for a year. Let’s hope he gets over the finishing line,” AFP reported Maxime Van Rolleghem, a lawyer for Achmea Bank, as saying.

“We are disappointed. It is worth at least 30 million euros ($49.77m).”

Rayo Rahul Sperring Withanage is said to be one of the most influential financiers in Asia and the Middle East.

A resident of Bermuda and London, he is founder and chairman of Scepter Partners, a direct investment and merchant bank for sovereign investors. He is also a founder of The BMB Group alongside Prince Abdul Ali Yil Kabier of the Brunei royal family.

Withanage is listed as being a current director of Cytrinity (New Zealand) Limited, a company registered in New Zealand in 2003. Company records link him to a modest property in a quiet Avondale cul-de-sac.

Social media profiles say he’s Auckland born and studied at the University of Auckland before training as a mergers and acquisitions Lawyer at London School of Economics.

Aside from its meteoric price-tag, the attraction of Picasso’s former 20.1 million euro ($33m) home is obvious.

Picasso spent his last 12 years until his death in 1973 at the estate, which dates from the 18th century.

It was previously owned by the Guinness brewing family and was famed for being a regular summer holiday home for Sir Winston Churchill, who painted a number of works there.

“Picasso would often work until late in the evening or at night, and sleep during the day,” says Christie’s international real estate firm R365 in its listing.

“On this secluded estate, he found the tranquillity and inspiration for the numerous works of art Picasso produced here.”

The 3.2ha estate’s “substantial restoration” is all down to the last owner, who bought the property in a decrepit state.

It had stood empty for 30 years, since the death of Picasso’s wife, Jacqueline Roque, who killed herself at the house in 1986.

Since Picasso’s death, she had left everything in the house as it was. Even his reading glasses were where he left them.

Her daughter Catherine Hutin-Blay sold the estate to a Dutch couple, who renamed it the ‘Cavern of the Minotaur’ after the painter’s obsession with the mythical beast.

But they got into financial difficulties after carrying out extensive work on the property, adding a large pool, garages and a professional tennis court. It also comes with a wine cellar with space for 5000 bottles, 12 bathrooms, a pool, gym, Turkish bath, and orangery.


Source  :  New Zealand Herald

Rugby: Auckland face nervous wait after hard-fought loss to Canterbury

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Canterbury 32Auckland 27

From bad to worse for Auckland rugby.

Auckland are facing relegation from the top division for the first time in their history, after a 32-27 loss to Canterbury at Eden Park on Friday night.

The result means that Auckland will play in the Championship next year if Waikato beat Bay of Plenty in Tauranga on Saturday.

It should prompt a major shake-up within the Union, after a season where their three wins have only been against teams from the second tier.

As a contest this was much closer than anyone had predicted, with Auckland pushing Canterbury to the limit with one of their better performances this season.

They could have stolen it at the death, but, as they have done all season, lacked the poise at the crucial moments.

Auckland hadn’t beaten Canterbury since 2013, and many thought the score much resemble their last clash, when the red and blacks prevailed 49-3 in Christchurch.

But this was a vastly different scenario.

Auckland led 13-12 at halftime – against the run of play – and kept battling against their more favoured opponents.

But Canterbury were clinical in the key moments, and showed their class and grit in the last 10 minutes, managing to hold Auckland out despite being down to 14 men following a yellow card to Inga Finau.

Canterbury completely dominated the first 10 minutes, as they laid siege to the Auckland line.

They were held up twice over the try line, and earned three penalties, before Braydon Ennor crossed near the posts, after a lovely delayed pass from Tim Bateman.

Ennor continues to turn heads, and the try was his 10th of the season.

The pattern of play suggested a one sided affair, but Auckland were quick to respond.

Akira Ioane found some open space, and a couple of offloads led to Vince Aso crossing in the 11th minute.

Despite Canterbury dominating territory, Auckland were up for the contest, showing the kind of fight and tenacity that has been absent on too many occasions this season.

Knowing they couldn’t match Canterbury with a structured approach, they went lateral as often as they could and found holes in the defence.

The first half was a scrappy affair, with Canterbury in particular guilty of some uncharacteristic errors, while Auckland seemed to grow in confidence as the match wore on.

The visitors regained the lead again, after fullback Caleb Makene, making his first start, sniped over from close range.

But they couldn’t accelerate away, they couldn’t shake Auckland off.

The home side gained due reward for their resilience right on halftime, after a Jono Hickey penalty took them back into the lead.

The two teams traded tries early in the second half, with replacement Canterbury halfback Jack Stratton forcing his way over after Auckland gave up a turnover five metres from their line.

Again, Auckland’s reply was instant, with Joe Ravouvou bringing back memories of some other great Fijian wingers at Eden Park, as he powered his way over from 40 metres, following a lineout move.

At this point Canterbury’s reinforcements – they had rested several front liners from the start – began to make an impact.

They started to dominate at set piece, and gradually squeezed the life out of Auckland.

Stratton’s second try, which had a hint of a double movement but was declared legal, gave Canterbury some breathing space for the first time in the match.

TJ Faiane’s last gasp try gave Auckland hope, but they eventually ran out of time.

Auckland 27 (V Aso, J Ravouvou, T Faiane tries; J Hickey 3 cons, 2 pens).

Canterbury 32 (B Ennor, C Makene, J Stratton 2 tries R Mo’unga 3 cons, 2 pens).


Source  :  New Zealand Herald

Exclusive: What Susan Mouat told police about husband’s death

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A woman who pushed her husband to his death told police her lies had made her “very unwell”, according to a transcript of her confession.

Six years after Bruce Mouat’s death, Susan Elizabeth Mouat was sentenced to 11 months home detention today, having admitted the manslaughter of her husband Bruce Mouat on the first day of her September trial.

Bruce Mouat suffered critical head injuries after falling down a set of steps outside the Hawera home he shared with her in July 2011 and later died in hospital.

Susan Mouat repeatedly told detectives Bruce Mouat had come home drunk and she was in bed when she heard him fall outside. A police investigation was closed without charges being laid, and a Coroner ruled his fall was accidental.

However suspicious friends and family reported to police that Mouat had made a number of admissions that suggested she was involved in his death, including an alleged comment to her sister-in-law at Bruce Mouat’s funeral: “How does it feel to hug a murderer?”

Mouat told the Coroner the comment was ‘black humour’, however Bruce Mouat’s family, including his son, have said they always believed she wasn’t telling the truth about the circumstances.

Susan Mouat’s lawyer Russell Fairbrother QC didn’t return calls this week, but documents released to the Weekend Herald reveal for the first time Susan Mouat’s explanation of the events of that night.

According to a transcript of her confession to police- given after she was arrested and charged with manslaughter in October last year- Susan Mouat said she pushed Bruce Mouat in “self defence” and admitted she had lied.

“I’d just like, as I mentioned before, I would like…this to be over and to say that…the night Bruce died, previous to this I maintained that I had nothing to do with his death, but on the night that Bruce died… I had pushed him in a form of self defence because he was excessively drunk and I asked him to leave and that push resulted in his falling down the stairs and hitting his head which then resulted in his death,” the transcript of her interview reads.

“I have been very unwell as a result of trying to keep that lie. I just wish for it now to be over and I’m ready. Please God everything will just be as it’s meant to, so that’s all I’d like to say.”

She explained that she thought Bruce Mouat was cutting back on his drinking, and was “disappointed” and “really angry” that he was drunk. She alleged he was being “abusive and nasty”.

“I was disgusted in the whole history of our relationship and I, I’ve had enough really.”

She said he stumbled down the hallway and left through the front door but attempted to reenter the home.

“I couldn’t stand it and I just, with one hand, opened the door and then I pushed him away. I said, ‘f— off’ and….that’s when he fell…he must have fallen with such force and that’s, I don’t know, you know then I just said ‘stay there’ and I realised, like I pulled myself together I suppose and I just said, ‘stay there, stay there, stay there,’ and then I thought, oh God.'”

Her only intention with the push was to get him to leave, she told police.

“To this day it’s a dream. The whole night was a dream…A very bad dream with a terrible outcome.”

The couple had been together for a decade and according to a summary of facts, Bruce Mouat had applied for a protection order against Susan in 2006, but they married three years later.

In two interviews with police in 2011 Susan Mouat denied involvement in her husband’s death. She repeated her denial at a subsequent interview years later, in August 2016.

Months later, in October last year, she admitted to police what had happened.

Family spokesman Simon Harrison said the family was disappointed with the sentence.

“Clearly we knew that the sentence wasn’t going to bring Bruce back after six long years (and) the family respects the parameters with which the Justice has to sentence.

“This sentencing now gives us some form of closure but obviously we have to live tih Bruce’s death forever. He’ll never be forgotten.”

Asked if he believed Susan Mouat was remorseful, Harrison replied: “I accept that’s what she said, and we’ll probably just leave it at that.”


Source  :  New Zealand Herald

Winston Peters delays NZ First board meeting due to funerals

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Winston Peters says there are several members of his party’s board that would struggle to make a meeting to decide the next Government if it was held tomorrow – with some having funerals to attend.

“We are doing the best we can in the way we can best organise it … this country is the same size as Japan. The same size as the UK. We are not a little island nation. It takes people time to organise things, particularly since we are coming up to Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Peters told media this afternoon.

Peters and his team will wrap up final negotiations with Labour and National today, and then have two proposals to take to a meeting of the party’s board and MPs.

He had indicated that meeting would be held tomorrow, but today said that would now happen over the weekend or Monday.

“I want to ensure that everybody on that board that can possibly be there, gets there.
One or two or three I think are finding it difficult. So I have got to fit around them. We have got people who have got funerals to go to. And other things they have got to do.”

Peters said it wasn’t an option for those board members to dial or Skype into the meeting.

“We wouldn’t want to do it by Skype. You wouldn’t want to have a serious discussion like this, over hours on the technology of Skype. Too much can go wrong.”

Peters will hold a final meeting with both National and Labour this afternoon, and said none would be needed tomorrow.

He said he personally didn’t have a view yet on who to support.

“No. I said I’d go into it with a totally open mind and I asked my caucus and the board to have the same approach.

“I can honestly tell you I wouldn’t take a guess what anyone is currently thinking.”

Peters said talks so far had been all about policy. Asked if the two options that will go to the board and caucus meeting will include positions of portfolios earmarked for NZ First MPs, Peters said “we haven’t got to that discussion yet”.

“I know this sounds like one is being evasive, but that’s only relevant if certain options are taken in the end, right? If those options are not taken, then your question doesn’t become relevant.

“I’m not being cute but we went in there with nine permutations of what we could do, and there are still nine on the table.”

Possible options open to the party include a full coalition inside Cabinet, a support agreement offering confidence and supply in return for some ministerial posts outside Cabinet, to sitting on the cross benches offering support on case-by-case basis in return for minimal policy gains.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern returned from a meeting with New Zealand First this afternoon full of praise for the process and leadership of the negotiation talks.

She did not take questions from media, but said she had nothing bad to say about the way the negotiation talks are being conducted.

“This has been a robust process. It’s been an important process. It’s a given that this process should take some time. We need to make sure we are making a considered decision about the future of New Zealand.

“I have no criticism to make about the process that we have undertaken … one we have entered into in good faith and continue to participate in good faith. I think it’s been led well.”

She said the session with New Zealand First included policy discussions that included areas of consensus and disagreement.

On his way into a meeting with Labour, Peters bridled at a question why the NZ First board had not been prepared in advance to meet as soon as talks wound up.

“Please don’t have these stupid, mindless arguments about the board. The board needed to know at a certain time when they could possible meet.

We are working on their agendas, their timetables, where they live, the bookings and those types of things.”

“We are doing this in the breathtaking time we possibly can do it.”


Source  :  New Zealand Herald

denies stealing $80,000 Audi after police find it in his garage

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An Audi worth over $80,000 stolen from Auckland was two months later discovered damaged in a Whanganui man’s garage.

Clinton Charles Takarangi, appearing in the Whanganui District Court on Tuesday, denied having anything to do with the vehicle theft and pleaded not guilty to receiving property worth over $1000.

Takarangi faced a second charge for receiving lawn-mowing equipment valued at $3000 but again pleaded not guilty.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Stephen Butler said the vehicle was found at Takarangi’s address 24 hours after it was reported stolen.

Judge Philip Crayton remanded Takarangi for a case review hearing on November 7 at 2.15pm.

A judge-alone trail was elected and Takarangi was granted bail.


Source  :  New Zealand Herald

Crash helpers remain haunted by Taupo crash scene

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Two men who tried to help a dying five-year-old boy at a horrific car crash are struggling to come to terms with what they saw that day.

Fitchett Hoggard truck drivers, David Henderson and Harry Murdoch, had just left their Taupo depot on Tuesday afternoon when they came across the carnage as they travelled north on State Highway 1.

The two vehicle pile-up claimed four lives and left eight others battling a raft of injuries.

Mother and newly ordained lay preacher Pesi Tuivai has so far been the only victim named, while a 10-month-old boy is in Starship Hospital. The baby had today been moved to a ward and was in a stable condition.

Henderson, a grandfather of five, said the crash would “haunt me forever”.

He and his colleague, Murdoch, of Reporoa, who were both driving NZ Couriers trucks, were travelling in convoy before coming to a stop and racing to help those caught up in the carnage.

By then, the injured occupants who were able to get out of the people mover Tuivai had been travelling in, were out and sitting on an embankment.

After quickly checking on the trapped driver of that vehicle, they raced over to the slightly smaller black vehicle which had come to rest on the shoulder of the road.

They knew straight away the female driver had died so they quickly tried to help the passenger who was losing a lot of blood.

“We went straight around to the passenger side and what I saw there, that’s where we tried to help the person there.”

Murdoch tried to help stem his injury and Henderson was at his side when the man, 60, died.

“That person passed away, while I was standing there, and then I said ‘has anyone checked the back of the car?’ and they said ‘no’ so the guy standing beside me peered through [window], because it had tinted windows, and that’s where the little boy was … he still had his belt on.”

He labelled Murdoch “the superhero” as he was able to keep himself composed throughout the chaotic and heart wrenching scenes.

“Harry jumped through the side window and felt [the boy’s] pulse and it was real weak and then he passed away in front of us.”

They then checked the back of the car and noticed the baby still in his capsule.

Murdoch passed the baby through the broken window to Henderson and another bystander before covering him with a blanket. A woman came over shortly afterwards and was given him to look after until emergency services arrived.

Henderson said he then went to check on the driver of the people mover who was still trapped. Then he heard wailing and realised that Tuivai had died.

“When I walked around [the car] I could see the smoke coming out from underneath and saw some flames coming out from under the front.”

Another truck driver retrieved a fire extinguisher to put out the flames which were inching closer to leaked petrol all over the road.

Henderson said it was a frantic 15 or so minutes before emergency services arrived and a period that he will never forget.

“I’ve come across accidents before you know, that’s my life, I’ve seen dead people at accidents but when we got there there were still three people alive and we watched them die and it wasn’t nice. I’m going to a counsellor today because I’m still not right.

“What we saw in that car … it will haunt me forever.”

Henderson said he and Murdoch also wanted to let the boy’s parents know that, as they were with their son when he died, he wasn’t in any pain.

“Harry would like her to know that he was peaceful, he looked as though he was asleep when he passed and he just looked so peaceful. When Harry put a little cover on him, that got me.

“Even the baby looked peaceful, he was probably unconscious. But when he got in the chopper I could see him kicking around and thought that was a good sign.”

Henderson said he spoke out to clarify reports that the 10-month-old baby was Tuivai’s.

“There’s just conflicting stories and the little baby definitely came out of the black car with the three deceased.”

He praised the work of police and other emergency service crews at the scene who worked methodically at the scene.

“I tip my hat to them, I really do. They do great work.”

Police today confirmed the 10-month-old was travelling with the couple and the five-year-old boy, and not Tuivai.


• Deceased female passenger, 44
• Injured man, 42. Critical in Intensive Care, Waikato Hospital
• Injured female passenger, 32. Stable in Waikato Hospital
• Injured female passenger, 42. Treated, discharged from ED.
• Injured female passenger, 66. Stable in Rotorua Hospital
• Injured female passenger, 3. Discharged Wednesday
• Injured female passenger, 2. Discharged Wednesday
• Injured female passenger, 17. Stable in Rotorua Hospital


• Deceased woman driver, 56
• Deceased front seat passenger, 60
• Deceased boy, 5
• Injured 10 month-old-baby. Stable in a ward in Starship Hospital


Source  :  New Zealand Herald

Rugby coach says Morocco Tai was “fearless and rugged”

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The former rugby coach of 15-year-old Morocco Tai killed after a police pursuit has described the young player as “fearless”, “rugged” and supportive of his teammates.

Cori Paul, the teenager’s former junior rugby coach at Horahora Club, in Whangarei, posted on Facebook following Monday’s fatal crash in Auckland, saying it was sad to hear of his death.

He included a team photo with Morocco in the front row whispering a few words of encouragement in his teammate’s ear.

The teenager died on Otara’s Bairds Rd, when the stolen car he was driving collided with a tree following a police pursuit.

Two 15-year-old women in the car were also injured – one seriously.

“This has hit a little close to home, so to speak, and we can all take lessons out of this tragedy,” Paul said in his Facebook post.

“I just want to put it out there if any of you kids or your mates need someone to talk to drop me a message on Facebook or call me.”

Morocco and his sister joined the team about four years ago, when they were about 11 years old.

“Although he was with us for a short time Morocco was a rugged, hearty player with no fear. All thoughts to his whanau.”

Comments on the post included a message from Trevor Baker who said it was sad news and the young rugby player had been an “up and comer”.

“Too many of our rangatahi getting caught up with the law these days. Credit to you for all your time and energy for them bro.”

And from Jay Sugarplum: “Very sad to think someone so young had such a tragic end. Gosh it hits home alright Corza. Same age as our boys Rest In Peace Morocco. HH hard.”


Source  :  New Zealand Herald