Masterpieces Gifted In Lieu Of Tax Tops £25 Million

Arts Council England

Valuable masterpieces by Sir Joshua Reynolds, JMW Turner and Peter Paul Rubens have been given to the nation in lieu of tax after the deaths of their owners. Fifty-one items of “major cultural significance” worth a total of £40m were offered in place of £25m of inheritance tax between 2010 and 2012. The Arts Council England has published a list of the items donated over the past two years. This represents 51 cases of cultural significance that have been allocated to the nation’s public museums and galleries between 2010 and 2012.

Liz Forgan, Chair, Arts Council England, said: “The range and quality of objects donated during the two years covered by this report is as impressive as ever – from masterpieces of European painting by Rubens and Turner, and the Capel Garman firedog created in Wales two millennia ago, through to the artistic achievements of the last few decades represented in three exceptional paintings by Keith Vaughan whose centenary is being celebrated this year.  “Philanthropy has always played an important part in contributing to this country’s cultural heritage. We want to encourage more people to donate through the AIL scheme so that our nation’s public collections are further enriched for the benefit of audiences throughout the country.”

The gifts include: Two paintings by the influential 18th century English painter Sir Joshua Reynolds (Maria & Robert Gideon and Lady Honywood & Daughter) two watercolours by JMW Turner (Rome from Monte Mario and Lowther Castle) the only known Ottoman jade tankard to be held in a UK collection a comprehensive archive of the works of the author JG Ballard Anni’s necklace, designed by the famous jeweller Charlotte de Sylas
a specimen of a rare form of the mineral prehnite a selection of awards allocated to the famous playwright Harold Pinter

The Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) scheme allows those who have a bill for Inheritance Tax to offset part of those taxes by donating important cultural, scientific or historic objects to the nation. The items accepted through this scheme are allocated to public collections and are available for everyone to engage with and enjoy. Items have been allocated across the UK, ranging from some of our smallest museums and galleries to national institutions.

In 2010/11, cultural objects worth a total of £8.3 million were allocated to national institutions, and in 2011/12, £31.3 million. The acceptance of these objects has settled £24,950,413 worth of tax. Over the past decade, approximately £215.4 million of cultural worth has been donated to the nation.

Ed Vaizey, Culture Minister, said: “The AIL scheme has been responsible for some incredible treasures entering museums and galleries around the  nation where they can be enjoyed by all. It’s not just the large national museums that benefit – some of our smallest galleries have been allocated stunning works. The introduction of the new Cultural Gifts Scheme in the next few months will be instrumental in ensuring this stream of wonderful objects, paintings and artwork into our institutions not only continues, but increases significantly. This will support lifetime giving by generous donors and further enhance our public collections.”

Former Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, introduced AIL to Britain in 1910 as part of the People’s Budget. Over a century later, thousands of important and significant items have been allocated to museums, archives and galleries across the UK – including Picasso’s Weeping Woman – and can now be accessed and enjoyed by the general public.

Photo: 18th century English painter Sir Joshua Reynolds


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