Museums inherit art ‘windfalls’ as wealthy move to offset hefty tax bills

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MUSEUMS and arts galleries in the North have benefited from more than £3m worth of art in the past three years as part of an inheritance tax scheme.

The Government scheme allows those with an inheritance tax bill to offset part of the taxes by donating important cultural, scientific or historic objects to the nation.

In Yorkshire, this includes a Degas sculpture worth around £450,000, donated to Leeds Art Gallery, as well as two Barbara Hepworth sculptures donated to The Hepworth Wakefield. The sculptures were originally donated in 2010 but have this year been permanently housed in Wakefield. Details of the former owners have not been revealed.

Nationally, the total worth of art donated in 2013 has increased by 50 per cent compared with the previous year – from £20m to £30m. This is a 500 per cent increase from 2011 when just £5m worth of art was donated.

The recession may partly explain the increase, it is believed.

Katherine Bullock, Leeds-based partner with advisory firm PwC, said: “People are taking more time to plan their affairs and look at different ways to manage their inheritance tax bill. We are also seeing an increased number of high net worth individuals investing in art as a viable, long-term investment option.”