In 1926, Lilly Cassirer Neubauer inherited a painting by Camille Pissaro, Rue St. Honore, apres midi, effet de pluie (1897).  As German Jews, Lilly and her husband were subjected
Continue Reading Cassirer v. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation: Application of Spanish Law of Adverse Possession Vests Title to Pissaro Painting in Spanish Museum, Not Original Owner’s Heirs

Nearly two decades have passed since more than 40 governments and many international non-governmental organizations gathered in Washington, DC, for the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets (the “Washington Conference
Continue Reading The Restitution, Repatriation, and Return of Cultural Objects: Von Saher: Court Says Statute of Limitations for Recovery of Stolen Art Runs Anew Against Subsequent Purchasers/Transferees

In response to concerns that poaching of African elephants is rapidly driving the species to extinction, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued Director’s Order No. 210, which tightened previous practice involving the import, export, and sale of African elephant ivory. The changes met with considerable resistance from a wide range of persons, including museum professionals, musicians, antiques dealers, and collectors. There has been not only consternation, but also confusion about what these changes mean for many transactions involving objects that may contain ivory components.  I have previously discussed these changes here and here.

To help provide some clarity on what precipitated these changes, what the changes are, and what impact they may have, I spoke with Craig Hoover, Chief of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife Trade and Conservation Branch, for a brief Q&A.


Continue Reading U.S. Ivory Regulation: A Q&A with Craig Hoover, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Written by William E. Keenen

Under U.S. law, a tax generally is imposed whenever one individual gratuitously transfers an interest in property to another. This tax is computed on the value of the property interest transferred, whether during one’s life (to which the gift tax applies) or at one’s death (to which the estate tax applies). In some instances, a discount in the value of an interest in property may be taken by a donor or the executor of an estate when filing a gift or estate tax return, as the case may be. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided Estate of Elkins v. Commissioner [767 F.3d 443 (5th Cir. 2014)] in which the court considered discounts to establish the value of fractional interests in artwork.

When James Elkins, son of the founding partner of the Vinson and Elkins law firm, died, he owned fractional interests in 64 very valuable works of art. Mr. Elkins and his wife had accumulated the artwork over the course of their marriage, which constituted the couple’s community property under the laws of Texas, where they resided during their marriage. Prior to Mr. Elkins’ death, the artwork had been maintained in his home, his office, the homes and offices of his children as well as on display in various public places. Mr. and Mrs. Elkins each settled a so-called grantor retained income trust (a GRIT) to which each of them transferred his or her respective interests in three works of art, which the Tax Court termed the “GRIT Art”. The other 61 pieces, which, for the reasons discussed next, were referred to by the Tax Court as the “Disclaimer Art”, were owned outright by Mr. and Mrs. Elkins.


Continue Reading Determining the IRS’s Fair Share: Considering Discounts to Establish the Value of Interests in Artwork for U.S. Transfer Tax Purposes