The UK Accepts Winston Churchill Paintings in Lieu of Inheritance Tax

Winston Churchill.
Winston Churchill.
Winston Churchill painting in his studio at Chartwell.

Winston Churchill painting in his studio at Chartwell.

The family of Winston Churchill (1874–1965) has received permission to donate 37 of his paintings to the nation instead of paying their inheritance taxes. The former prime minister’s youngest daughter and last surviving child, Mary Soames, died in May 2014 at the age of 91.

In October, Soames’ heirs offered to donate the paintings in lieu of the tax, in fulfillment of Soames’ wish that her father’s paintings remain on display at Churchill’s Chartwell family home, in Kent, England, (see 38 Paintings by Winston Churchill Offered to the Nation). The UK’s Acceptance in Lieu panel approved the arrangement today.

The National Trust property Chartwell, which has been open to the public since 1966, will keep 35 canvases, with the other two remaining on view at the Houses of Parliament and the Churchill War Rooms. The donated collection also includes a portrait of Churchill by John Lavery, and the Aly Khan Gold Cup, won by the prime minister’s horse, High Hat.

“It is fitting that in the 50th year since his death, these paintings by the great war-time leader Sir Winston Churchill will be displayed in three very significant locations that helped shape his life and gives us an opportunity to appreciate the artistic talent of a man who was a colossal figure in world politics,” said culture minister Ed Vaizey in a statement.

The panel values the paintings at £9.4 million ($14.18 million), which was more than the family owed, but the Soames estate agreed to waive the difference.

If recent auction results are any indication, the works might be even more valuable than that. In December 2014, Churchill’s 1932 painting The Goldfish Pool at Chartwell set a new record for the world leader-turned-artist, nearly tripling its high estimate to sell for £1,762,500 ($2.76 million) at a sale at Sotheby’s London (see Winston Churchill Painting Sells for Record $2.75 Million). That canvas also came from the Soames estate.


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