Any art collector knows that valuable pieces can be a headache to inherit, particularly when inheritance taxes are exorbitant. But what if the art in question is also illegal? According to Fox News, a couple that recently inherited Robert Rauschenberg's "Canyon" sculpture is facing just such a concern. The piece includes a taxidermied bald eagle, and possession or sale of any bald eagle parts - even stuffed - is a federal crime, making it impossible to sell the piece to offset its tax burden. The piece is valued at $65 million, which amounts to a $29 million tax bill for the heirs.
The previous owner piece had a waiver allowing her to legally possess the art, but it is unknown if that waiver will pass to the new owners. The eagle used in the artwork was killed and preserved long before restrictions were in place, and Rauschenberg had a waiver to create the piece.
Do you believe legal waivers for artwork should be in effect no matter who owns the piece, including whether or not it is sold? Or would this set a dangerous precedent for illegal trade in raptor parts? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Photo © Deborah