Cartoonist Hoff of New Yorker / TUE 12-12-17 / James founder of auction house / Grant biographer Chernow

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Constructor: David J. Kahn

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (for a Tuesday)

THEME: some recent art sale 

Theme answers:
  • LEONARDO DAVINCI (7D: Creator of 38-Across)
  • "SALVATOR MUNDI" (38A: Renaissance painting that was sold in November 2017 for a record $450.3 million)
  • RESTORING (10D: Eliminating the effects of wear and tear on, as was done to 38-Across)
  • OLD MASTER (35D: 7-Down, for one)
  • CHRISTIE (14A: James ___, founder of the auction house that sold 38-Across)
  • CHARLES I (65A: English king who once owned 38-Across)
  • OIL (12D: 38-Across, for one)
  • ART (60D: Work of ___ (38-Across, e.g.))
Word of the Day: OREAD (35A: Mountain nymph) —
In Greek mythology, an Oread (/ˈɔːriˌæd, ˈɔːri.əd/; Ancient Greek: Ὀρειάς, stem Ὀρειάδ- Oreas/Oread-, from ὄρος, "mountain") or Orestiad /ɔːˈrɛstiˌæd, ɔːˈrɛsti.əd/; Όρεστιάδες, Orestiades) is a mountain nymph. They differ from each other according to their dwelling: the Idaeae were from Mount Ida, Peliades from Mount Pelion, etc. They were associated with Artemis, since the goddess, when she went out hunting, preferred mountains and rocky precipices. (wikipedia)
• • •

JANUARY, 16, 2018: A MESSAGE FOR THOSE SOLVING IN SYNDICATION (i.e. the majority of my readers):

Hello, from the present (that is, today; actual today, and not one-week-ago or five-weeks-ago-on-weekdays today, like usual)! It's January, which means it's time for my once-a-year, week-long pitch for financial contributions to the blog. The idea is very simple: if you read the blog regularly (or even semi-regularly), please consider what it's worth to you on an annual basis and give accordingly. To be clear—there are no major expenses involved in writing a blog. There's just my time. A lot of it. Every day (well, usually night), solving, writing, hunting down pictures and videos of various degrees of relevance and usefulness, chatting with folks and answering puzzle questions via email and social media, gathering and disseminating crossword-related information of various kinds, etc. It's a second job. My making this pitch means I'm all in for another calendar year of puzzle revelry with all y'all. I'm excited about the year. I've got my own crossword construction project I want to get off the ground, and I'm hoping to take a more active role (along with some crossword friends) in recruiting and mentoring new and aspiring constructors. But the bulk of my work will be the same as ever: I'll be here with a new post every single day. Solve, write, repeat. Despite my occasional (or, OK, maybe frequent) consternation with the State of The Puzzle, the crossword community continues to give me great joy, and I'm proud to run an independent, ad-free blog where people can find someone to commiserate with, someone to yell at, or, you know, someone who'll just give them the damn answers. Some people refuse to pay for what they can get for free. Others just don't have money to spare. All are welcome to read the blog—the site will always be open and free. But if you are able to express your appreciation monetarily, here are two options. First, a Paypal button (which you can also find in the blog sidebar):

Second, a mailing address:

Rex Parker c/o Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton, NY 13905

All Paypal contributions will be gratefully acknowledged by email. All snail mail contributions (I. Love. Snail mail!) will be gratefully acknowledged with hand-written postcards. This year's cards are "Women In Science"—Rachel Ignotofsky's beautiful cartoon portraits of women scientists from antiquity to the present. I've heard of a few of these women (mostly crossword names like ADA Lovelace, Marie CURIE, MAE Jemison) but most of these names are entirely new to me, so I'm excited to learn about them as I write my thank-you notes. Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just say NO CARD.  As ever, I'm so grateful for your readership and support.

Now on to the puzzle!

• • •

Straight trivia puzzle that seems to exist only because the main themers intersect at the central "O." Just not puzzly enough. Also, CHRISTIE is not a great themer (everyone knows the house as "Christie's"). Neither is the participle (?) RESTORING. This was slapped together in order to be (somewhat) timely, and odd forms of theme answers were shoehorned into this grid to make it all come out symmetrical—an ironic way to treat a grid that exists solely because the central themers intersect symmetrically. Then there's the fact that the whole idea of paintings selling for hundreds of millions of dollars, to Saudi princes or anyone, is at best uninteresting, at worst repulsive. Not my thing.

Considering how dense the theme is, the grid is pretty clean. IN A NET is of course unfortunate, but everything else hold up. I made only one significant mistake—went with DRYAD over OREAD at 35A: Mountain nymph. Since the "R" and "A" and "D" were actually correct, it took some time for me to see the error. I looked at "MY-" at the beginning of 32D: Make a declaration with a straight face (MEAN IT) for far too long. Thought, "MY ... BAD? MY ... ???" Then surrounding answers came together and I made the switch. Nothing else here was much trouble. I was going to rate this puzzle Medium, but that's because when I was done I thought I'd solved a Wednesday. But it's Tuesday. . . it's Finals Week, so I've kind of lost track of what day is what. Anyway, this is more difficult than the average Tuesday based solely on your need to know details of recent trivia, and your need to keep eye-jumping all over the place because of the cross-referenced themers. I was slower than usual, but it wasn't what I'd call *harder* than usual, if that makes sense. Or even if it doesn't. Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Bader bin Abdullah bin Farhan al-Saud 6:24 AM  

I am currently reading Walter Isaacson's biography of Leonardo Da Vinci. The painting was only recently authenticated (2011) as an authentic Leonardo.

Salvator Mundi - Savior of the world.

A typical motif - globus cruciger - the orb and cross.

In the process of declaring it genuine, experts noted the Leonardo techniques: straight on stare, elusive smile and blurred sfumato lines. There were also x-rays revealing a pentimento showing a differently placed thumb.

I am also reading Ron Chernow's Grant.

Both books will be gifts to others. Am I wrong for reading them before giving ?

John Morrison 6:40 AM  

I didn't love "YEE" in 29D.

Anonymous 6:41 AM  

Yes. It's like re-gifting

Lewis 6:44 AM  

The puzzle put up some delightful resistance here and there, which is rare and wonderful for a Tuesday, due to gaps in my knowledge and some tricky cluing (I loved the misdirect clues for DST and ANTI). It was polished and unusually current.

So... one person's "at best uninteresting, at worst repulsive", is another person's engaging.

The puzzle taught me some basic facts about the painting (including its name!), but I was intrigued enough to read about it in Wikipedia. OMG, what a fascinating history this painting has! Just for starters it was originally valued at 30 pounds, and in its travels it was given to a mason to satisfy a debt, as well by a king to his mistress. Also, the subject of the painting's authenticity (and there are doubters) makes for captivating reading.

Thank you, David, for starting my day with a lovely puzzle, and for opening my eyes to a most interesting little slice of life.

puzzlehoarder 6:45 AM  

Not knowing recent baseball history or remembering the auction house without the help of any crosses slowed down the start of this puzzle. The artist was easy to infer not so much the painting's title. Even OLDMASTER didn't automatically pop up off of the O. The time wasn't great but there was always generous amounts of early week fill to keep things moving. Over all a fun and timely puzzle.

@jae, if your visiting today thanks for the 9/12/98 puzzle suggestion. The NE corner really wasn't too bad. The rest of it,meh. What stood out were the two debut words in the clues. That alone made it worthwhile.

QuasiMojo 6:57 AM  

Rex, you got a big laugh from me early this morning with that hilarious photo of the Jesus painting after RESTORING that went viral not so long ago. I agree with you about the repulsiveness of prices paid for art these days. At least this one was allegedly by an OLD MASTER (although I don't think of Da Vinci as one. He was too ahead of his time.) When a Warhol sells for $85 million, as it did recently, you know we've crossed a threshold of absurdity. But then Matt Lauer was paid $25 million a year. To do what exactly? Everything is askew these days. Alas.

I tried to like this puzzle but answers like DST, LITE, ALAN ALDA, X-RATED, MEAN IT, IN A NET, and APR (Jazz Appreciation Month??) etc brought it down too many pegs.

Anonymous 7:02 AM  

@Prince a-boo-boo, globus cruciger is the globe _bearing_ the _cross_ - the gazillion dollar painting does not include a globus cruciger. It has a crystal ball.

Robert A. Simon 7:09 AM  

Boy...I really thought $425 million was going to take it. I am never going to Abu Dhabi again.

Show-off jerks.

Exubesq 7:17 AM  

This sale is being investigated as a possible money laundering scheme (for real). I would like to believe that the suspicion was triggered by someone who saw a picture of the painting and said, “no way anybody pays that much for THAT!”

kitshef 7:18 AM  

Should have had an art clue for 43A, to match 34A. Michelangelo’s The Creation of ___ e.g.

A bit like yesterday’s puzzle – a theme I’m not too crazy about, but with high theme density and some nice fill – with just a couple of duds (INANET, REACTSTO).

Not sure why ITSY is “for short”.

I remember having to O READ O HENRY in school. Much preferred SAKI.

Old Lady 7:25 AM  

Now I really feel like the Old Lady I am. 57D was one letter too short to accommodate BIRCH, the former senator Bayh. Overall, a satisfying puzzle. Had similar problem with DRYAD instead of OREAD.

kitshef 7:33 AM  

@Bader bin Abdullah bin Farhan al-Saud - I am always happy to receive used books as a gift. For out of print books, it's often the only option, and it's not like you use them up. As long as you are not representing them as new, you re fine.

@QuasiMojo - Kirk Cousins has been paid $43 million+ over the last two years to play football for a team that has lost more games then they have won, and it is generally considered such an insult that he'll leave as soon as he can.

Anonymous 7:36 AM  

Thank you God, for sending Your only begotten Son to redeem the world.

Birchbark 7:43 AM  

Wanted SALVATORtuesday at 38A but otherwise enjoyed this solve.

Like @Lewis, I went to Wikipedia after solving. The painting reminds me a little of the Mona Lisa in terms of the smile and the gaze. And the crystal orb, sort of an offhand whole-world-in-his-hands move.


Anonymous 7:44 AM  

YEE haw vs HEE haw, crossing with somewhat obscure proper name was a problem. Other than that I enjoyed and had a typical Tuesday time.

Two Ponies 7:45 AM  

The choices of proper names struck me as odd. Who are Syd Hoff, Gal Gadot, and Amos Oz? Luckily they were easy because of the crosses but how strange to use on a Tuesday.

I am amazed that this puzzle was written, submitted, and published all within a month of this event.

In England I heard the locals refer to gullible tourists as punters.

When I read the clue for 11D my first thought was "sex with a boring partner?"

GHarris 7:47 AM  

Had ponts for punts and so dnf. Otherwise an enjoyable and somewhat challenging exercise.

chefbea 8:04 AM  

What a great puzzle...since it was discovered and recently sold!!!

Anonymous 8:06 AM  

The theme was a bit ho-hum for me as I am not familiar with the painting. A good challenging crossword, especially for a Tuesday.


The lack of the cross was perhaps a joke by the atheist leaning Leonardo.

Winkelvoss 8:25 AM  

People are paying almost $20,000 for nothing more than a long number (aka: bitcoin). Given that, $475 million for an oil painting seems downright cheap.

Hungry Mother 8:26 AM  

Took a while to get the YEE, but otherwise no problem. Slower than normal, but enjoyable solve.

Mohair Sam 8:30 AM  

I'm with ya Rex. $450 million for a lousy painting is ridiculous. With that kind of money the Yanks could have locked up Giancarlo Stanton and a quality back-up shortstop. What is this world coming to?

Andy S. 8:35 AM  

I feel like HARPON is what you spear a tarpon with.

Z 8:40 AM  

@Two Ponies - Har. I thought that clue was a little off, too, but not for as funny a reason. My thought was nobody lies on their back to PLAY DEAD.

DNF at ODAY/YEE. I went with hEE-haw after considering gEE-haw, YEE-haw, and even iEE-haw. To me both ODAh and ODAY seemed reasonable crosses.

I see the closet socialists are out today. Snyder actually affronts my sensibilities more than Cousins does. At least Cousins provides entertainment to a large number of people 16 Sunday’s a year. Snyder and most of his fellow NFL owners are little more than leaches on society. I don’t watch the NFL, but I don’t begrudge a player a single penny anymore than I begrudge Taylor Swift her millions or Meryl Streep hers. If you entertain millions of people you’re going to make millions of dollars.

As for SALVATORE MUNDI, I agree with Rex on its lack of theme worthiness. Even if you don’t think someone having $450 million dollars to spend on a work of art is an obscenity, what makes this sale anything more than trivia of the most trivial sort. There’s no word play in the theme, just a bunch of Jeopardy answers strewn symmetrically across a grid. The fill is decent (save the one cross) but to what end? There’s no “aha,” no joy. Just an “oh, this thing happened.” Most irksome to me is that the reason SALVATORE MUNDI is in the news has nothing to do with LEONARDO DA VINCI or ART or even deeply held religious beliefs. No, just craven wealth that we all can either ooh and aah over or tsk tsk at. Bah. Humbug.

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

Thinking gerund instead of participle...

pmdm 8:45 AM  

As far as the puzzle goes, I thought it was very enjoyable. I enjoy puzzles that implement themes in this way. Even when the implementation is not perfect.

As far as the sale price of the painting, there are two things that influence my feelings about the sale price. First, how much of it goes to the creator of the work of art? I never begrudge money that finds its way to the artist, no matter how high the price. In this case, none of it goes to the artist.

Second, I consider public access to the work of art. If a newly discovered manuscript of a work of music by a famous composer is found and auctioned off, and the owner squirrels away the manuscript and prevent the work from ever being heard, for example, I consider the sale an absurdity. So if the sale price of this painting results in the general public being able to admire the work of art, the price was worth it. If (as is probable) the painting will be hidden from public view, the affair is horrible regardless of the sale price. At least, that is my take on things.

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

Got ticked off when Sotheby didn't fit at 14A, and things progressed clumsily from there. Went with hEE instead of YEE (29D), and cannot say I was comfortable with PUNTS until the very end.

Pushed me a few ticks over average, which leaves me feeling like a bank account after a $400M impulse purchase.

Carlos Slim 9:31 AM  

@Rex: "Then there's the fact that the whole idea of paintings selling for hundreds of millions of dollars, to Saudi princes or anyone, is at best uninteresting, at worst repulsive." Wrong, it starts off at repulsive and then goes down-hill at every additional $100 mill to a level of human evil unknown to past generations. I should know, I'm the guy whose $375 mill was not enough to buy that damned painting. What the hell is the world coming to if you can't buy a damned painting for $375 + buyers commission?

mathgent 9:44 AM  

The puzzle wasn't much but I enjoyed learning about the painting.

Seth 9:49 AM  

Question pertaining to crosswords in general, not this one: I have a vague memory from years and years ago of Rex posting a filled-in 15x15 puzzle with no black squares. The entries were all real words or phrases, but they were absurd and nonsensical. But still, the feat was impressive. Does anyone remember this? Does anyone have a link to it?

Also, does anyone know if anyone is trying to make a puzzle with no black squares? With crossword making software getting better, and word lists getting bigger, I feel like it's bound to happen at some point...

Kodak Jenkins 9:49 AM  

Nice, @Mohair Sam

This puzzle is fine. The theme is simultaneously contemporary and historic, serving to educate me more deeply about a headline I scarcely noticed.

I see nothing wrong with referencing the founder of CHRISTIE's auction house instead of the auction house itself.

Mucky mess is a bit misleading for STY. A literal pig sty isn't regarded as messy, just mucky, whereas a teenager's messy room isn't (usually) mucky.

OREAD is a new word for me.

evil doug 9:50 AM  

How repulsive is this, Michael?

"Name: Detective Comics, No. 27 Value: $1,380,000. Batman made his debut in the 27th issue of this monthly series. The comic book sold for 10 cents when it hit the market in 1939. Seventy years later, the comic fetches $1.38 million. Nice return on investment!"

Nancy 9:51 AM  

So it's not the Mona Lisa and it's not The Last Supper. But I remember reading about the auction at CHRISTIE'S and it was very, very, very, very, very, very expensive to purchase. How can I forget the title so soon? Oh, yes, SALVATOR MUNDI. But I needed more than a few crosses to get it.

Loved the theme and the execution. It's a subject Worth Knowing About and the theme answers are very dense. There's almost no junk and some of the clues are later-in-the-week worthy: SPY (21D); ADAM (43A); NOW (45D) and the wonderful clue/answer PLAY DEAD (11D). I do take exception with HULL being the "main part of a ship" (52D). I want the main part of my ship to be either the Dining Room or the swimming pool. Anyway, a fun and interesting Tuesday.

GILL I. 10:08 AM  

It did feel slapped together. An OIL here an ART there. Every name on the planet except JESUS.
Cartoonist Hoff of the New Yorker? Why clue SYD that way - and on a Tuesday? And boy, I'm beginning to feel ANTI about ANTE.
I must say that I thought LEONARDO DA VINCE crossing SALVATOR MUNDI was amusing. Too bad the stuff around it didn't bring me an ITSY smile.
If I were a billionaire, I would buy all the paintings I could get my hands on and then open up my own museum in SOHO. The problem with these pricy oils is that you have to have them guarded so closely that it's hard for the public to enjoy them. When I saw Michelangelo's Pieta for the first time in St. Peter's Basilica, I needed binoculars. That jewel is hard to appreciate unless you get up close and feel it.
At one very strange point in my life, I thought about being an art restorer. My title would be "Trained Conservator." I was an art major so that title would have suited me fine. Too bad I had to eat and pay bills because you intern forever and no one wants to pay you.
Off to the WSJ to see if I can get an AHA or a YEE hee.

Roo Monster 10:08 AM  

Hey All !
People with that kind of money to buy a painting that I could've painted make me sick. Put your ridiculous "spare" money to some kind of good use. Some of these asses are living extravagantly while people in their own country suffer.

Anyway, puz was OK. A tad on the tougher side for a TuesPuz. Had my one-letter DNF at TUg/gESSIE. Liked clue for HAN. For ___Haw, wrote in final two E's and waited on the cross. Did only have one writeover, though, age-ERA.

Long Downs - PLAY DEAD ALAN ALDA :-)


jberg 10:09 AM  

It does sort of seem logical that a company called "Christie's" would have some association with a guy named CHRISTIE.

I knew enough to know that the nymph could have been an OREAD or a dRyAD, so I just let those three letters fill themselves in; MEAN IT didn't make sense to me (you keep a 'straight face' if you're lying, right?), but OLD MASTER did the trick.

I liked the theme all right, but some of it seemed a little random -- I mean, CHARLES I? Owning this painting is not really what we remember him for.

@kitshef, my view was that ITSY is short for itsy-bitsy. And I agree with you about Magritte, but I'd go the other way and give RENE a non-art clue.

Anoa Bob 10:21 AM  

Has there ever been a grid-friendlier name than ALAN ALDA?


It would be difficult to have a NO SALT diet because most foods have some SALT, even if it's in trace amounts. Anyway, if you were able to pull it off, you would die. Yes, I MEAN IT.

Mohair Sam 10:36 AM  
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Nancy 10:40 AM  

Loved the droll comments of Robert A. Simon (7:09); Exubesq (7:17); Mohair (8:30); and our new contributors today, Winkelvoss (8:28) and Carlos Slim (9:31). I agree that 1) the purchase price of this painting is obscene and that 2) the painting is Not Beautiful. Thing is, I actually saw the Mona Lisa in the flesh, as it were, and I wouldn't have spent big $$$, assuming I had them, for her, either. Her smile seemed tepid, and I don't understand all the blathering about it across the centuries. Nor did her eyes follow me around the room as I walked from one side of her to the other. She paid me absolutely no attention at all, if truth be told. At any rate, I'm not a portrait person; I'm a landscape and seascape person. I don't want someone else's grandmother staring at me from over my couch. I don't even want my own grandmother staring at me from over my couch. So that Abu Dhabi guy is welcome to his very expensive purchase.

Two Ponies 10:43 AM  

Whoa there @ Roo! I've never met you but are you saying you can paint better than DaVinci? Perhaps you are referring to something else. I certainly hope I am simply misunderstanding your post.

Keith Jackson 10:56 AM  

Whoa Nelly!

semioticus (shelbyl) 10:59 AM  

Somehow, I broke my Tuesday record with this puzzle (5:55), which means it was smooth. It did feel smooth. I have no clue as to what SALVATORMUNDI is (but I can figure out what it means and I guess I have some reading to do later on)

Fill: If you have both DST and DTS, your fill won't scream greatness. With UTES, IONA, ANTE it is your usual crosswordese fair, which is fair for a Tuesday puzzle. The fill makes up for its lack of freshness through balance. The 6-letter words make up 23.6% of the puzzle, so all that glue becomes easy to put behind you.

Theme/long answers: Tribute puzzles are almost never exciting theme-wise. There are 6 theme words in this one (excluding OIL and ART), and not one of them makes you go "ooooh." But again, it's a tribute puzzle, and when judged in that subcategory it's a decent work.

Clues: Some colorful entries here. "First name in Solo flying?" was cool. Even if the clues were not outright great, they were at least attempts at being humorous. "Someone with intelligence?" "First name?" "Superman without a cape" etc. are not necessarily cute but they are good for a change of pace when needed.

Pleasurability: Just like yesterday's puzzle, it's smooth as silk, it doesn't annoy you, it teaches you something, and it's over quickly. Now, I would have still liked a different theme because, well, that's part of the fun in weekday puzzles, but the theme by itself doesn't make the puzzle less enjoyable at least.

GRADE: B, 3.5 stars.

Tom 11:00 AM  

You be correct. RESTORING can be a gerund. It can also be a plain ol’ verb. Can be forced into participlism, but not comfortably, as in “Going to the spa can have a restoring effect.”

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

A theme about my cousin Sal! Who'da thought! My mother-in-law said the whole Mundi family has a chromosome missing but I never he let someone paint his picture! I also never heard of Abu Dhabi but if he wants Sal over his couch for $425 majors, more power to him.

QuasiMojo 11:23 AM  

@Seth, that sounds molto difficile! But worth trying. Years ago I became obsessed with word squares where the words down were the same as those across, in order. Hard to explain. But i managed to do one that was six letters squared. And one that was seven letters but I had to cheat with a hyphenated word. Anyone else try those? And @Nancy, the problem with Mona Lisa is that it is under glass. I’m sure it would look much better without the extra protection but someone tried to destroy it once I think. Or they stole it. One painting that blew my mind in person was Klimt’s Kiss. I had not realized in photos that it’s textured. Or layered. Extraordinary.

old timer 11:41 AM  

I was amazed and impressed that Mr Kahn could come up with a theme-dense puzzle so soon after the record-setting auction, and produce a puzzle for a Tuesday (rather than a MUNDI). Yes, that led to some hackneyed fill, but it was worth it.

Like OFL I wrote in "dryad" for OREAD and that was today's speed bump.

@Two Ponies, a punter is not always a tourist. Usually not a tourist in fact. It is anyone willing to place a bet or take a chance on something or pay money for something like a strip show.

Or, of course someone who poles a PUNT. If you get the chance, you should visit C ambridge on a fine sunny day. You can sit on the banks of the River Cam and be endlessly amused by the hapless tourists and other visitors who have rented a PUNT and have no idea how to pole it, and who therefore fall into the river. Oxford is the other place to see PUNTs but there are so many waterways there that there is no single place where you will see all of the punters pass by.

Masked and Anonymous 11:42 AM  

Well, hey -- M&A learned a snoot-full of stuff, solvin this puppy. Went and checked out the artwork in question. Subject: Christ wannabe [ain't got no cross] with a kick-ass cool crystal ball. I can dig it.

M&A, coincidental-like, recently did a somewhat similar small watercolor painting, entitled "Trump Walks on Water". [It was basically a pond scene with a big hunk of orange hair floatin on the surface, with lotsa bubbles all around it.] Gave it away to another student in the artclass that "had to have it". Shoulda held out for a record $450.30, I reckon? … nah ...

Mostly I just give my paintings away, becuz it's the friendly thing to do. Have been offered money sometimes, but shoot -- I'd rather make a new friend that'll remember m&e semi-fondly forever whenever they look at that hopelessly goofy M&A art. One time I did make the "buyer" create me one of their own paintings, in trade. That's a fun way to do it, too. Woulda been happy to trade old Leonardo a "Walks on Water" rendition, in loo of them zillions of moneybucks, for one of his. [Wonder what the Italian for "har" and "hell no" is?] But, I digress.

Had ODAH/HEE instead of ODAY/YEE. Reasonable boner.
staff weeject pick: HAN. Admired the HAN/AMELIA cluin coup.

Thanx, Mr. Kahn. U do good words of art.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Sir Hillary 11:57 AM  

Thank goodness I did a Rows Garden just last week that included SALVATORMUNDI in it. I would never have remembered the name otherwise.

Count me in the "uninteresting" camp regarding art prices paid by Saudi royals.

But hey, at least they're going to start allowing movie theaters.

LANA DOING XRATED ART INANET has potential, but not much else here does.

Hartley70 12:22 PM  

I think this is a splendid Tuesday puzzle taking us from highbrow LEONARDO and his OIL to lowbrow Superman alter ego KENT and Star War HAN. My time didn't suffer and the fill was interesting. There was nothing annoying about SYD, RON, or EVAN since we don't see them day after day after day. Familiarity so often breeds contempt.

@Nancy, if you unhappily find yourself in possession of the Mona Lisa, I'd be happy to take it off your hands for a very reasonable price. I was shocked at the size, but all the better for display in the living room.

I liked this theme since I only vaguely remember the news of this painting. I certainly didn't remember the title. A little research makes the painting and its provenance even more interesting. Thanks for the class, Professor Kahn.

Keeping It Symbol 12:27 PM  

What a shame. Rex pontificates about his indifference to an incredible work of art. Additionally, the portrait is of the most important man to walk the earth. Even if you aren’t a Christian, you would have to acknowledge this fact. And the ridiculous image that Rex uses in the answer exposition is an obvious sign of his disrespect. As other solvers indicated, the puzzle was informational and the center O which intersects the cross gives the puzzle a wonderful meta quality. Seasonal kudos to cruciverbalist Khan for a truly enjoyable puzzle. BTW... daVinci’s Salvator Mindi is a hypnotically engaging image for any of you who hasn’t seen it. But I doubt there aren’t that many. This painting is a treasure. Thank you David for putting all the pieces together. Also I have no problem with Christie - nice to know the origin of the name. Bah to Rex’s humbug.

Dick Swart 12:39 PM  

Rex has missed the boat again on a sea that his wheelhouse has steered away from.

The puzzle was topical and of great interest to those of us whose focus is visual.

Anonymous 12:50 PM  

I assumed the theme was chosen because "Art Basel Miami" has been going on. And I thought the puzzle was fun, well-done, & chunk full of art stuff.

There is an insane bubble in art prices because the .001 percenters keep gambling on get-richer-quick schemes. It will probably crash spectacularly at some point, as bubbles tend to do.

Amelia 1:23 PM  

Yes, Rex. The puzzle was not hard, per se. But a pleasure to fill in. Which you think made it hard. You're so used to idiotic early week puzzles, that when you see a tiny bit of crunch, you bristle. A perfect way to construct a Tuesday, which I usually pass on, because they're usually ridiculously easy. This was easy, but smart. Can't you give the constructor some credit for getting early week puzzlers to feel good about themselves?

Joe Bleaux 1:26 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles Flaster 2:13 PM  

Thanks to the suggesters of the above puzzle.
Tried it and there were just enough edgy clues and answers to make it slightly difficult. I expect it is one of the easier Saturdays for that era.
Liked answer to 8 Across..

mathgent 2:17 PM  

I enjoyed today's comments very much. Especially @Mohair Sam (8:30) and @Nancy (10:40).

We're sad here in San Francisco today. Our excellent mayor, Ed Lee, died of a heart attack this morning. He was just 65. He was termed out and looking forward to many a leisurely day on the golf course.

Black Sun 3:03 PM  

Yes, a real shame to lose a man who allowed illegal murderers to find sanctuary.

Anonymous 3:09 PM  

Not a Merry Christmas for Kate Steinle's family.
Thanks a lot Ed Lee.

Paul Rippey 3:10 PM  

But... That’s a GOOD thing. At least in my world.

Outside The Box 4:42 PM  

Found the puzzle pretty easy—except for the NE where I ran into trouble. Overall, I would call this one medium.

nick strauss 4:50 PM  

german doesn't work.

jae 4:59 PM  

I saw this news update about the painting :

Nearly a month after Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi" was sold for $450 million, the buyer has finally been revealed.
Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism confirmed Monday it purchased the most expensive painting in the world.
The painting has been the topic of speculation since an anonymous buyer phoned in the record-breaking bid at a Christie's auction in New York on November 15. It is one of fewer than 20 authenticated da Vinci paintings in existence.
That speculation intensified last week after the Louvre Abu Dhabi -- the Paris museum's first outpost outside France -- said it would exhibit the work but declined to comment on the owner.
The New York Times reported last week that the man behind the purchase was a littleknown Saudi prince named Bader bin Abdullah bin Farhan al-Saud, an associate of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Saudi Arabia has since said the prince was acting as a middleman for the United Arab Emirates, a key ally in the region.

David in CA 5:02 PM  

@Black Sun: @anon (3:09)
12 people, after hearing weeks of testimony,not only acquitted on murder charges, but manslaughter also.
Did you sit through the whole trial? Did you read the entire transcript? Or do you just have some divine source of information that they were not privy to that not only leads you to a different conclusion but makes you feel entitled to malign someone so recently passed away?
And yes, the victim's family might be feeling better now if an innocent man had been found guilty in their daughter's death - does that make it worth it to you?

Anonymous 5:03 PM  

@ Paul Rippey, What world, exactly, do you live in?

Roo Monster 5:21 PM  

@Two Ponies
I definitely can't paint better than DaVinci, or probably anyone else. It's just that art is very subjective. Look at Picasso, very weird. But people ooh and aah and try to guess what he was thinking/feeling. Some big money paintings you have to admit look drawn by a 5 year old! Art not my Wheelhouse/forte.

I do a mean stick figure, though. :-)


Two Ponies 6:42 PM  

@ jae,
Thanks for the info about the painting. I'm glad to hear it will be on public display.
@ Roo,
If we were talking about a Jackson Pollack I would not have batted an eye. So, yes, definitely subjective but DaVinci or any of the Old Masters could not be mistaken for the work of a child. Keep working on those stick figures!

Anonymous 7:25 PM  

I thought Salvator Mundi was the father figure in Married... with Children. Can't imagine why a portrait of him would be worth over 400 million.

Larry Gilstrap 7:39 PM  

I love famous paintings, and fetching huge bucks only makes me like them more. I have been lucky enough to have had some quality face time with many of the biggies, thanks to travel and the proximity of some large museums around here. I get a rush from the intimacy of seeing the technique, like the brush stroke up close. Connecting with Pollock, or Magritte, or Van Gogh in a way that is unique to painting. What's the attraction: a mix of gravitas and historical provenance?

Twitter was abuzz about the NY Yankee's decision to change the name of their AAA Tampa farm team to the Tarpons. Many chose to HARP ON the inevitable awkward mispronunciation.

Good puzzle with a lot more theme action than just a plain, old Tuesday.

Anonymous 8:14 PM  

@David in CA
Ok. So you are now in the camp that OJ was not guilty of murder? Moron!

BobL 8:47 PM  


Anonymous 8:52 PM  

It was a nice puzzle. A little harder than a usual Tuesday but I still solved without hints. A wrong vowel was the only mistake.


Anonymous 9:01 PM  

@David in CA
Yeah, we regularly see the Brown family on TV thanking the jury for declaring OJ innocent since he was declared NOT guilty of the crime he didn't commit.
You really are an idiot.

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Burma Shave 10:35 AM  


ALANALDA’s an OLDMASTER, but I MEANIT’s his ART that I dread,
ASK and see how he REACTSTO an ARDENT request to PLAYDEAD.


BS2 11:40 AM  

A spellcaster in my captcha. That is all.

spacecraft 12:18 PM  

Helluva Tuesday if you don't know the title--or those three folks mentioned by @two ponies. And I didn't. But I found Mazel TOV right away, and off just that V I grokked good ol' LEO. So, for this early in the week: I guess medium with a dash of challenging.

I LOVE @Mohair Sam's take on the sale. That was more entertaining than the puzzle! Some unfortunate fill here; most unfortunate: a RRNM (random Roman-numeraled monarch) as a THEME entry. Tsk! DOD is (OK, was) the carhop-cum-starlet LANA Turner. Best fill: EMBRYO. A spotty work, but theme density affects. And how can you give the OLDMASTER a bogey? Par it is.

thefogman 12:24 PM  

It's not a masterpiece but it's pretty, pretty, pretty good in my opinion. I found it quite easy. But although I knew immediately the painting the constructor had as the central theme, I did not know its title. Now I do. I like crosswords that teach you something. Aside from that, why are Rex's knickers in a knot over Saudis buying expensive artwork? Is he suggesting Saudis be banned from art auctions? And why?

rondo 1:32 PM  

One write-over having scribbled in what seems to be the preferred word these days with OPIoid before OPIATE. I just filled in LEONARDODAVINCI from the DILL pickle’s L, and off to the races. I know a little about ART and always associated OLDMASTERs with those Dutch-Flemish guys from the 1600s, like Franz Hals, who is sometimes a xword answer (and whose work made a nice cover for one of my ART Appreciation class papers). Maybe because of those Dutch MASTERs cigar commercials from way back.

A Mayberry hot dog is the one OPIATE.

LITE beer is my usual beer of choice. Pilsner Urquell is nice when available. A beautiful GOLDEN Staropramen Premium on tap perhaps best ever.

After the solve I took a look at the front page of the “Life” section (where the puz resides) of the Pioneer Press (henceforth the StPPP) and by happenstance there is a picture of yeah baby GAL Godot as Wonder Woman. Didn’t need the help, but there she was. And wasn’t LANA Turner known as the Sweater GAL?

Any puz with RON in it has got to be OK. Even all the PPP wasn’t enough to make me feel UNEASY.

Diana, LIW 3:07 PM  

@Rondo - Fork the puzzle. What gives with rondo/BS poetry yesterday. Inquiring minds want to know before spilling any other puzzle news!

Diana, Waiting for an answer

rainforest 3:12 PM  

I remember when this painting was discovered, confirmed as the original, restored and then, finally sold for gazillions. Thus, not a bad theme.

Hard to fathom the prices paid for works of art, but equally difficult to assess their value historically, culturally, socio-economically, or for the sake of beauty.

The puzzle, while not necessarily a work of art, was close to a Salvatore Wednesday in my opinion. Pretty darn good fill to go with a dense theme.

But, but:
What the HULL do we think about @rondo?
He once said, "you know IONA LEONARDO".
ART lover, he's also a poet,
Or had @BS taken some OPIATE? (this is why I don't write poetry. Gimme a limerick, however...).


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Kurniati Barca 1:18 PM  

Ayam Sabung Peru

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