Skip to main content

Portrait of Jesus Fetches Record-Breaking $450 Million—and Other Notes from the Week

Catch up on all the news you might have missed with our handy summary of the week’s top stories.

We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.

Barbie Continues to Diversify with Hijab-Wearing Doll

The doll is based on American-Muslim Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, a woman who just recently became famous for being the first woman to compete in the Olympics while wearing a headscarf. According to Fox News, Muhammad excitedly wrote on Instagram, “The Barbie Shero Program recognizes women who break boundaries to inspire the next generation of girls, and I am so excited to join this incredible group of women. I’m proud to know that little girls everywhere can now play with a Barbie who chooses to wear hijab! This is a childhood dream come true.” The Barbie was presented at Glamour magazine’s Women of the Year summit, where editor in chief Cindi Leive told the audience, “Ibtihaj Muhammad has challenged every stereotype—which to me is the definition of a modern American woman.” —Mary Margaret Olohan

Painting Thought to Be Leonardo da Vinci Blows Away Auction History

Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” was bought at auction on Wednesday for a staggering $450.3 million. The painting, auctioned by Christie’s in New York, is said to be one of twenty or fewer authentic pieces in existence by the famed Italian artist who also painted the “Mona Lisa.” The bidding, which happened over the phone and lasted for approximately twenty minutes, saw the 1500s relic depicting Jesus go from an asking price of $100 million to more than four times that. While all of this may sound a bit mind-boggling, what’s crazier is that, according to CNN, this very painting was once thought to be a reproduction and fetched a mere $59 at auction in 1958. My, what a difference sixty years and a painstaking restoration can make. —Megan Madden

Reputation’s Reputation

Taylor Swift’s highly anticipated sixth album reputation was released last Friday, November 10, after months of stylized social media teasers and the release of several singles. Reputation is Swift’s fourth consecutive album to sell more than a million copies in its first week, according to Nielsen reports, possibly owing to the fact that Swift has kept reputation off of streaming services. Since last Friday, Swift has been everywhere. She performed a moving tribute to Jimmy Fallon’s late mother on the Tonight Show and surprised fans in Nashville as she stopped by Target to buy a hard copy of her album, leading us at Verily to think that the “Old Taylor” isn’t quite dead yet as the hit single “Look What You Made Me Do” proclaimed. Reputation is certainly a new side of Swift but with all the comforts of what we are used to that keep us hitting repeat. Her album will likely make you think, as it did for Verily contributor Sophie Caldecott, who wrote that Swift actually shed light on some important aspects of her marriage. —Victoria Rabuse

Kristen Bell Is Bringing Actual High School Musicals Back

Sloth-loving TV star and Disney princess Kristen Bell has teamed up to executive produce a “novel new TV special that reunites old classmates to perform their high school musical one last time,” according to Entertainment Weekly. The spectacular, called Encore!, will be shown on ABC December 10, with Bell appearing in the special. Encore! will show former students remounting their high school production of Stephen Sondheim’s classic Into the Woods with the help of Broadway choreographers, directors, and vocal coaches. In a statement, Bell, who has fond memories of playing Dorothy in her high school production of The Wizard of Oz, said, “I wanted to produce Encore! to help others re-experience their days on stage and rediscover the distinct bonding that comes with high school theatre. Our show is about converging past dreams with present circumstances, and I hope viewers can laugh and see themselves among the insurance salesman, the pregnant woman, and the rest of the classmates as they tackle Sondheim.” Sounds like a dream for anyone still having Glee withdrawals. —VR

Coast-to-Coast Tragedy with California Shooting and Fear of Florida Serial Killer

Early Tuesday morning, a gunman in Northern California killed five people and injured ten before being killed by police. Kevin Janson Neal “killed his wife, shot neighbors, attacked an elementary school, and drove through the small rural community, firing at motorists early on Tuesday morning,” according to the New York Times. The Ranch Tehama Elementary School was able to lock down quickly, preventing the deaths of many school children and staff. Neal’s sister told the police that her brother had a history of mental illness and had been under police surveillance. He was also arrested this past January for stabbing a neighbor and was prohibited from having firearms. The weapons discovered in Neal’s home were found to be self-manufactured.

Traveling eastward, a possible serial killer has been conducting mysterious attacks in downtown Tampa, Florida, with a fourth murder since October 9 that occurred this past Tuesday. Police have put forth a $91,000 award for information leading to an arrest in the case. —VR

Jessica Chastain Thinks Hollywood Is Changing for the Better

During the Cannes Film Festival back in May, Jessica Chastain expressed disgust over the way women were portrayed in movies. The actress had sat as juror, and after viewing twenty films in ten days, emerged disturbed by the way that Hollywood apparently viewed women. Now, however, it seems that things are looking up. “I think the industry is beginning to examine itself and how it has perceived female roles. I’m seeing a lot of really interesting discussions, and I do think it’s changing,” Chastain said in her cover story for Town and Country magazine this month. “We have a long way to go in the world in all industries,” she added. Chastain is purportedly very careful in choosing her own roles, as she is aware that her choices affect how young women view their role in the world. —MMO

Uber Nightmares Become a Reality in New Lawsuit

If you’ve ever thought twice about the vulnerability that riding in an Uber alone presents, your nightmares have become a reality. Two women have taken action against Uber in recent allegations that their drivers sexually assaulted them. According to ABC News, these were separate cases; one occurred in Los Angeles on October 15, 2016, and the other occurred in Miami on January 18, 2017. On both occasions, drivers forced themselves on protesting and heavily intoxicated victims. The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California states, says, “Uber will stop at no lengths to make a profit. Since Uber launched in 2010, thousands of female passengers have endured unlawful conduct by their Uber drivers including rape, sexual assault, physical violence, and gender-motivated harassment.” Uber has said that it will investigate the claims and take them very seriously. —MMO

Sexual Harassment Training to Begin in the Government

Following close behind allegations against multiple Hollywood celebrities, sexual harassment claims are now being revealed in the U.S. government, with claims against Minnesota Senator Al Franken and Colorado state representative Steve Lebsock, to name a few. This Tuesday, Speaker Paul Ryan announced that "the House will adopt a policy requiring all members of Congress and their staffs to undergo training to prevent sexual harassment.” His statement also said that the government’s goal is “not only to raise awareness but also make abundantly clear that harassment in any form has no place in this institution.” It’s great to see action taken in this current culture, and we at Verily hope to see even more visibility and corrective treatment of the issue of sexual harassment in institutions of power. —VR