Should Museums Be Allowed to Sell Donated Works of Art?

Pity the big-time art collector (really!). All that time and money building a collection of art that is apt to go away just before or just after the collector dies. Because, when planning their estates, the three typical options for them are: The art can be willed to heirs who, if they like their parent’s taste—and not all do—will face inheritance taxes of up to 40 percent; the artwork gets sold to provide heirs with cash, and the sale itself generates capital gains taxes of 28 percent; or, the art is donated to a willing nonprofit institution, such as a museum, which permits a sizeable charitable deduction on their income or estate tax returns.

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