Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Friday, September 13, 2019

Rubens and Hirst Artworks go to British Museums in Tax Deals

3808In 1910, United Kingdom chancellor David Lloyd George introduced a way for citizens to offset inheritance tax bills by donating works of art to the government. In 2013, the government added cultural gift schemes to allow people to donate art during their lives. Judging from the eclectic pieces collected this year, the bundled system is beneficial for both the government and the taxpayers.

Arts Council England (ACE) on Thursday published details of 46 objects and collections worth £58.6 million that will go to UK museums and galleries in lieu of tax. The total value of the objects more than doubled the previous financial year and the highest since the two schemes were bundled together in 2013. Sir Nicholas Serota, the chair of ACE, said that “It is also heartening to see that, in line with last year, around 86% of the total tax settled has been for items allocated outside London.”

One piece, Rubens portrait of Charles V in his full imperial armor, is a painting that the artist kept until his death in 1640. A sculpture of a decapitated, flayed pregnant woman, entitled Wretched War, has been given by the artist’s former business manager Frank Dunphy, settling £90,000 of tax.

Organizations and museums are then allocated the items, either on loan or permanently. A first-time recipient was the Royal College of Physicians, which was permanently given one of the oddest collections in the list: 450 antique medical and self-care objects which include nipple shields made from ivory, silver, glass, wood, leather and lead. The most valuable item on the list is a Bernardo Bellotto painting of Venice on Ascension Day, which settles £7m of tax and was allocated to Audley End house in Essex.

See Mark Brown, Rubens and Hirst Artworks go to British Museums in Tax Deals, Guardian, September 11, 2019.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.


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