The heirs of art dealer Ileana Sonnabend have inherited “Canyon,” a pop-art masterpiece by Robert Rauschenberg that's been valued at $65 million by IRS assessors. Only one catch: The artwork features a stuffed bald eagle, making it illegal to sell the work under federal eagle protection rules. That's left Sonnabend's heirs on the hook for a $29 million tax bill, but with no way to sell the artwork in question.
Patricia Cohen reports that there's been a (very sensible) settlement in the Rauschenberg bald eagle case: "the I.R.S. dropped the [$41 million] tax assessment; in exchange, the family was required to donate [the work] to a museum where it would be publicly exhibited and claim no tax deduction."