The Guardian launched an investigation into a UK tax program that allows owners of historically significant works of art to avoid inheritance and capital gains taxes if they make those works available to the public in some form. The program encompasses 115,000 works, the contents of a substantial museum. At least one critic estimates the whole thing has cost the taxpayers more than £1bn in revenue.
For that kind of money, you would think the program was well run and allowed access to academics and museums. But the Guardian only found one accommodating owner among those contacted:
I get several calls a year, but it’s variable,” she said. “It depends on who’s doing what kind of research. I hear mostly from graduate researchers and museums; people who are doing their own family histories, as well.
“There isn’t museum space in the UK for all these things. They’re cared for. I give all the information I’ve got and they give me information back. For me, it’s a joy – a great voyage through a particular period of history.”