The late Ileana Sonnabend recently died, leaving her will's executor's with a dilemma. In her possession was a collage by Robert Rauschenberg called "Canyon", which unfortunately contains a bald eagle, and thus illegal to sale or even transfer abroad, from the United States.
Three independent art valuers have all agreed that this particular problem render the art has having a nil value (basically, worth $0), since it cannot be priced. The IRS disagree.
The insist that, apparently, that the executors should be able to find "a reclusive Chinese billionaire who would buy the artwork on the black market and smuggle it out of the USA in order to hide it away".
This mythical Chinese billionaire recluse would value the art at $65 million in the IRS's estimate, which means IRS is entitled to $29 million of taxes on this illegal sale. The IRS is also penalising $11.7 million for “gross valuation misstatement” in accepting the unanimous view of the three separate professional valuers that the artwork had a nil value.
All this, after paying $471million in estate taxes."
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