So the title says it all, kind of. So here is the deal. There was this famous art dealer/collector in New York I guess where they regularly pay obscene amounts of cash for giant piles of garbage they call art, but whatever, to each his own I guess. So this woman dealer up and dies at the age of 92, big surprise, and when she died she left all her art and sculptures and whatnot to her heirs. The entire collection was appraised at around one billion dollars. Now you have to pay taxes on all that art. But here is the thing, one of the sculptures, the one entitled Canyon by Robert Rauschenberg, contains the stuffed remains of a bald eagle. Yup, the big bird. On a side note, she could have sold all the dang art a few years before she kicked the bucket to her family for, oh I don’t know, say a dollar, and none of this would be an issue right now. Well okay, she could have sold them all the art except for Canyon and none of this would be an issue. Leave that thing to a museum, let them figure out what to do with it. But again, back to the point here.
This piece for all intents and purposes is worthless. Living or dead bald eagles may not be traded or sold, it is a federal crime to do so. Well then, the piece just gets traded down through history I guess. One question that lingers is how the guy made the piece in the first place. How do you get a bird that is illegal to kill or to buy or possess or transport for that matter? Anyway, the family says the sculpture is worth nothing since there is no way to do basically anything with the piece. A valid point if you ask me.
However, apparently Caesar wants some rendered unto him, so the IRS valued the piece at $65 million dollars in accordance with, I don’t know other comparable art on the market by the same sculptor I guess. Now they want the family to cough up another $29 mil in taxes along with about $12 mil more in penalties for being purposefully deceitful about the valuation of the art. Holy crap! The family has already choked up almost half a billion in taxes on the estate.
I mean really when is crazy, crazy? If I were the family, instead of fighting the whole thing in court, where it will probably end up, I’d give the IRS the art piece and get a receipt for $65 million. Hey, they said it was worth it. Then the bill is paid off and they have an extra $19 million to put towards future taxes and penalties and the whatnot. I guess we live in a world where nothing is truly free and the minute you say something is worthless the government can come along, re-value it to suit their needs, then charge and penalize you for not being truthful about it. How is that government serving the people, it sounds more like government demanding from the people. That is not what America is about, but funnily enough this whole battle is over the perceived versus actual value of our national symbol.