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A new perfume called "Misha" is the latest venture of Mikhail Baryshnikov - a scent he asserted would give "extra confidence" to any woman who wore it. Asked why he moved into this field, he replied, "Why not? . . . I knew nothing about perfume. I wanted to learn. It really was a challenge."

"Misha" will have to compete alongside a myriad of celebrity fragrances that have already glutted the market, from Cher's "Uninhibited" to Elizabeth Taylor's "Passion" to jazz trumpeter Herb Alpert's "Listen." Baryshnikov, who said he was involved in every stage of the perfume's development, said "It's very much me . . . not floral, more woodsy, with dark tones."Although he has endorsed many other products, he claims this one was special. "This project has purified my brain and my soul," he rhapsodized.

- ALMOST ANTICLIMATICALLY after launching "Misha" perfume, Mikhail Baryshnikov has made a surprise announcement that he will step down as artistic director of the American Ballet Theatre at the end of the 1989-90 season. "Misha has brought the American Ballet Theatre into a new era and has set a standard of excellence by which the company will be measured in years to come, said Melville Straus, chairman of the Ballet Theatre Foundation's board.

- WILLEM DE KOONING, the 85-year-old artist, is said to have Alzheimer's disease, and his daughter Lisa has asked to have him declared mentally incompetent to manage property worth up to $150 million. De Kooning lives in East Hampton on Long Island, and continues to paint daily with the violent, slashing strokes that have earned him fame as one of America's most prominent living artists.

- WENDY WASSERSTEIN'S oft-awarded play "The Heidi Chronicles" has picked up New York Drama Critics Circle award as best play of the 1988-89 season. The play has also won the Pulitzer Prize for drama, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the Hull-Warriner Award of the Dramatists Guild.

The critics also declared Brian Friel's "Aristocrats" best new foreign play, and gave a special citation to Bill Irwin's "Largely New York."

- DEATHS IN THE ARTS: Basil Gray, renowned art historian and scholar, died at 84 in London. His more than 20 books include the standard, "Persian Painting," which he said he wrote standing up, to prevent himself falling asleep after his day's work at the British Museum . . . American harpsichordist Scott Ross died in France at 38, of AIDS. Ross had recorded 555 sonatas by D. Scarlatti on 34 compact discs, the world's biggest set.