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The manuscript of Avant et après by Paul Gauguin. Photo: The Courtauld
The manuscript of Avant et après by Paul Gauguin. Photo: The Courtauld

UK Arts Institutions Receive Record $87 Million in Taxpayer-Donated Works

British taxpayers donated artworks worth a record-breaking total of $87 million to UK arts institutions this year as part of the government’s Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) tax program, which allows individuals gifting works of national importance to UK institutions to write off inheritance tax debt, The Art Newspaper reports. According to Arts Council England, the scheme gained significantly in popularity this year, as did the Cultural Gifts Scheme, which allows living individuals to donate works in exchange for tax breaks.

Among the works gifted were a Paul Gaugin manuscript—the donation of which satisfied $8.7 million in inheritance debt—to London’s Courtauld Institute. Featuring nearly thirty illustrations, the book-length work was made by the artist in his hut on a remote Polynesian island just two months before his death at age fifty-four. It is the only major manuscript by the French Post-Impressionist to be held by a British collection.

Other gifts included Camille Pissaro’s 1887 Soleil couchant dans notre pré, which went to London’s National Gallery; half a dozen Rembrandt etchings, which entered the collection of the National Museums NI Ulster Museum in Northern Ireland; a number of paintings by Leonard Rosoman illustrating the first gay kiss in British theater, which, along with a self-portrait by Pop artist Peter Blake, went to Pallant House in Chichester, UK; and a group of prints by Russian Constructivist Naum Gabo, which entered the collection of the Pier Arts Center in Orkney, in the Northern Isles of Scotland. The report noted that two-thirds of the gifts this year landed in institutions outside London.

AIL panel chair Edward Harley in a statement cited the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic as likely to influence both future donations and the programming of institutions: “As museums, galleries and libraries begin to welcome back visitors, we are likely to see a shift away from big blockbuster touring shows and a refocus on the nation’s great public collections, celebrating and re-examining the many treasures we have been entrusted with over the years. The AIL and CGS schemes are going to be as important as ever.”