What Is The Fair Market Value of Something That Cannot be Sold?

VIA Neatorama

That’s the question that lawyers of the heirs of New York art dealer Ileana Sonnabend and the IRS are arguing in this Catch-22 case involving artwork by Robert Rauschenberg:

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.

“It’s hard for me to see how this could be valued this way because it’s illegal to sell it,” said Patti S. Spencer, a lawyer who specializes in trusts and estates but has no role in the case.