In today’s Times, I recount a tax dispute involving “Canyon,” a combine that Robert Rauschenberg created in 1959 that cannot be sold because it contains a stuffed bald eagle, which is protected under federal laws.
Art’s Sale Value? Zero. The Tax Bill? $29 Million.
Published: July 22, 2012
What is the fair market value of an object that cannot be sold?
The question may sound like a Zen koan, but it is one that lawyers for the heirs of the New York art dealer Ileana Sonnabend and the Internal Revenue Service are set to debate when they meet in Washington next month.
Because the work, a sculptural combine, includes a stuffed bald eagle, a bird under federal protection, the heirs would be committing a felony if they ever tried to sell it. So their appraisers have valued the work at zero.
But the Internal Revenue Service takes a different view. It has appraised “Canyon” at $65 million and is demanding that the owners pay $29.2 million in taxes……..
Read the full story here.