Tax schemes put £50m of art in British museums

Art collections worth almost £50m have been donated to British collections in the last year, following the introduction of a new lifetime giving scheme.

A total of 30 collections worth £49.4m were donated in lieu of tax in 2012–13. Works include sculptures by Barbara Hepworth, a portrait of John Ruskin by John Everett Millais, and works by Corot and Degas from the estate of Lucian Freud.

Other objects given in lieu of tax are a painting by Mark Rothko, the earliest known letters written by Charles Darwin, and the Lennon archive – a collection of manuscripts by John Lennon donated by Beatles biographer Hunter Davies.

The Acceptance in Lieu scheme was established in 1910, allowing individuals to give works of art and other cultural artefacts to pay off inheritance tax. In April 2012 the government introduced the Cultural Gifts Scheme - allowing, for the first time, gifts to be made to the nation in return for a reduction in income tax – a scheme that the Art Fund had campaigned for since 2008.

Works given through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme with Art Fund support have included Titian's Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto, and more recently Nicolas Poussin's Extreme Unction in November 2012.

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