UK Government offers £19m for Pontormo

October 17 2016

Image of UK Government offers £19m for Pontormo

Picture: National Gallery

The National Gallery in London could be on course to acquire the above portrait by Pontormo for £30m, after the Treasury agreed to make an exceptional £19m grant. That leaves £11m to raise by 22nd October.

The picture had been sold to an overseas buyer in controversial circumstances. Normally, if treasures like the Pontormo are to be exported, UK museums have the ability to benefit from the UK government forgoing any taxes the seller might have had to pay on the painting (such as Capital Gains Tax or Inheritance Tax). But in this case, the painting was sold and paid for in quick order, meaning that the seller - the 7th Earl of Caledon - had already paid the tax by the time the National Gallery had thought about mounting a campaign to save the painting. But happily, the Treasury has agreed to effectively unwind this process, which means the National Gallery has £11m to find, rather than the full £30m. 

More details here from Martin Bailey in The Art Newspaper. The US buyer was apparently Tom Hill, of the hedge fund Blackstone.

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