Thursday, November 03, 2011

Barberini Taxes

Followup on the Barberini and the rentier class.   As with several other of the great Palazzi, the Barberini has reinvented itself as a kind of art gallery, heavy on 16th-17th Century.  Not very good stuff for the most part, although they do have a wonderful Caravaggio.  But set that aside.  My present point is that a lot of these 16th-17th Century paintings are, as far as the gallery goes, fairly recent donations--some, I believe, as late as the 1980s.  

Bully for all these donors, but could we be seeing here the working of modern inheritance tax law?  Consider: your family has been rich since you can't remember when or why but the great house is getting a little drafty and nobody around here has held down a fulltime job since the Battle of Sedan.  When grandpa kicks off, you'll face some awful death duties, but wait: the walls are covered with boring old paintings that nobody remembers and nobody wants.  What if we give them to the state (at a suitably puffed-up valuation, heh heh) and let the charitable deduction offset the tax bill?    Thereby we wiggle out of our obligations while basking in the warm glow of public gratitude.  Win-win, I'd say.  Well, except for the roughnecks down at the revenue office.


Ken Houghton said...

And now you know one of the big reasons why Italy's budget is ferkakta.

mike shupp said...

Well ... it works ONCE.