At Least She Hasn't Got Much to Pack

Don Larrabee, Warren Rogers, Sonja Hillgren and Phryne, who is leaving for Brazil after decades spent hanging out in bars.
Don Larrabee, Warren Rogers, Sonja Hillgren and Phryne, who is leaving for Brazil after decades spent hanging out in bars. (Gerald Martineau -- The Washington Post)
By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Farewell, Phryne . The nude portrait of a sultry ancient Greek courtesan that hung over the National Press Club bar for years is heading to Brazil. Phryne was banished from the club in 1999 as a sexist throwback to the bad old days of male-only clubs, and went on loan to the venerable Metropolitan Club (another all-male bastion that finally went coed).

Last fall, the picture went on the block at Sloans & Kenyon in Chevy Chase. When it failed to fetch the minimum asking price, the owners -- the Silver Owls, a committee of Press Clubbers for at least 25 years -- went back to one of the bidders, reports The Post's Annie Groer. A deal was struck, and Phryne was sold to an anonymous buyer in Brazil for $80,000, more than doubling the record for a work by native artist Antonio Parreiras (1860-1937). Most of the proceeds will go to maintaining the club's archives.

For Donna Shalala, Nice Digs, Lousy Timing

Note to the Haves: When involved in labor disputes, skip the luxury home profile.

Donna Shalala , former secretary of HHS and now president of the University of Miami, is battling campus janitors who are trying to unionize. She makes $516,904 a year; they make $7.53 an hour with no health benefits. And the university just announced it has raised $1 billion from private donors in a single fundraising drive.

So union organizers were just tickled to see Shalala's 9,000-square-foot official president's residence featured in the New York Times Magazine last week. The article shows off the Coral Gables digs, including mentions of Shalala's Lexus hybrid SUV, the antique 1790 French country cabinet once owned by former Washington Post columnist Meg Greenfield, her 29-foot motorboat, and the custom dining table built that seats 24. Oh, and her dog, Sweetie, has four dog beds.

Negotiations and snickering are ongoing.

Renewable Energy? All for It. Just Don't Ask About Nuclear.

President Bush: I think what he's saying is one of these days, we're going to take wood chips, put them through the factory, and it's going to be fuel you can put in your car. Is that right?

Dan Arvizu , director of the National Renewable Energy Lab: That's absolutely true.

Bush: That's the difference between the PhD and a C-student. [ Laughter ]

Arvizu: I didn't want to say that.

Bush: Yes, right. [ Laughter ] Anyway, keep going. [ Laughter ]

-- The president, self-deprecating his way through a panel on energy conservation in Golden, Colo., yesterday, with a variation on a line he has used at least nine other times in the past 12 months, records show. Aw, c'mon, sir, with the glasses you look like at least a B-plusser!

UPDATE

In December we told the story of Nicholas Church , an activist/artist who unwittingly ended up in the movie version of "Rent." The 22-year-old Gaithersburg native was playing music and selling paintings in a Manhattan park in late 2004 when a group approached and asked if they could film him for "a student film."

Church signed a waiver and never gave it a second thought . . . until a year later, when his brother and several friends glimpsed in the big-budget movie a fleeting image of a man they say is him.

Several outraged actors who read our story contacted the Screen Actors Guild, which called the film's producers at Sony Pictures. "They were terrific," said Jane Love , assistant executive director for SAG's Washington area branch. Though it was unclear whether Church was entitled to compensation, Sony settled the matter immediately. A check to him for $122, the day rate for a bit player, is in the mail, she said.

No word on who filmed Church, though Sony reps told Love they don't think it was anyone they directly employ. "He was clearly exploited by somebody," she said. "We just don't know who."

QUOTE

"I'm tired of it. It's just tacky. . . .The priorities are all on money. They don't care whether you've murdered three or four people as long as you can make that money."

-- Sheila Johnson in the Bisnow on Business online newsletter, about being called "the first African American female billionaire." ( Oprah reached her billion shortly afterward -- not that we speak of such things.)


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