That stuffed bird is...

That stuffed bird is ultimately the reason “Canyon” is being donated at all. The presence of a bald eagle — a bird protected by federal laws — means that the work cannot be legally sold or traded. So when the Sonnabend children, Nina Sundell and Antonio Homem, inherited “Canyon,” five years ago, their appraisers valued it at zero. The I.R.S., however, insisted this masterwork was worth $65 million. It demanded they pay estate taxes of $29.2 million plus another $11.7 million in penalties.

As part of the settlement, the I.R.S. dropped the tax assessment; in exchange, the family was required to donate “Canyon” to a museum where it would be publicly exhibited and claim no tax deduction, Mr. Lerner said.

—In reading about the new show at MoMA celebrating the collector Ileana Sonnabend, I came across this description of how MoMA came to acquire Robert Rauschenberg’s Canyon.

Item originally posted to WeekendWindow tumblr