Billboard Bits: Courtney Love, Britney/Justin, Mozart

News on Courtney Love's theft, Britney and Justin's shopping, and Mozart's poisoning.

Courtney LoveMore than $100,000 in jewels and other items were stolen from Courtney Love's Vancouver hotel suite while she was on the set of a movie, her manager says. Among the items said to have been taken is the wedding ring she received from Kurt Cobain, the Nirvana lead singer who killed himself in 1994 in the couple's Seattle home.

Love arrived last month in Vancouver to shoot the movie ''24 Hours'' with Kevin Bacon and Charlize Theron. Filming continues until Wednesday (June 13). Also missing are a $30,000 ring that actor Edward Norton gave Love "at a time when he had only $40,000 to his name," and diamond bracelets she received from a former boyfriend/manager, according to her manager.

Toys belonging to Love's daughter with Cobain, Frances Bean, also were taken last week.

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Britney SpearsBritney Spears and 'N Sync fans who want to own a piece of their favorite artists can do so while helping out charities, thanks to a newly launched online auction. Beginning today (June 11), Yahoo! Auctions is offering items such as Spears' red kimono from her tour in support of "Oops! I Did It Again" and Justin Timberlake's costume from 'N Sync's No Strings Attached Tour 2000. The Pepsi-sponsored sale will benefit the Britney Spears Foundation and the Justin Timberlake Foundation, respectively.

In addition to the sale, Yahoo!'s ShoppingVision has video of the pop stars shopping in New York and London, through which fans can purchase the same items as Spears and Timberlake. The current shopping spree will run through Thursday (June 14); subsequent episodes will debut on June 21, 28, and July 4, each available for viewing for two days.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

Forget rheumatic fever, kidney stones, heart disease, pneumonia and even poisoning. What may have really killed Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were pork cutlets. The latest theory about the composer's untimely death on Dec. 5, 1791, at age 35 in Vienna suggests the culprit was likely trichinosis.

The illness is usually caused by eating undercooked pork infested by the worm, and could explain all of Mozart's symptoms, which included fever, rash, limb pain and swelling, says Dr. Jan. V. Hirschmann of Puget Sound Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Seattle.

Hirschmann offers as damning evidence an innocuous little letter Mozart wrote to his wife 44 days before his illness began, as documented in a 1999 biography. "What do I smell? ... pork cutlets! Che Gusto (What a delicious taste). I eat to your health," Mozart wrote.

"If his final illness was indeed trichinosis, whose incubation period is up to 50 days, Mozart may have unwittingly disclosed the precise cause of his death -- those very pork chops," Hirschmann said. His eight-page report, based on an examination of medical literature, historical documents and Mozart biographies, is published in the June 11 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Mozart died 15 days after he became ill. His doctors offered only a vague cause of death -- "severe miliary fever" -- and no autopsy was performed. His wife, Constanze, reportedly said after his death that Mozart thought he was being poisoned, and rumors circulated that his enemies, including rival composer Antonio Salieri, may have done him in. Since then, medical theorists have largely discounted foul play.

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Copyright 2001 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

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