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Case Summary

Estate of Robert Scull v. Commissioner

Estate of Scull v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 67 T.C.M. (CCH) 2953 (T.C. 1994).

See also: Scull v. Scull, 462 N.Y.S.2d 890 (N.Y. App. Div. 1983), aff’d, 493 N.E.2d 238 (1983), reconsideration denied sub nom. Scull v. Dickson, 497 N.E.2d 710 (1986).



At the time of his death in January 1986, Robert Scull retained a 65% interest in his pop art collection. The remaining 35% interest belonged to his former wife, Ethel Scull. For tax purposes, the petitioner Estate of Robert Scull claimed its share’s value was $4.6 million. The Estate based its valuation on two appraisals: a 1985 estimate which Sotheby’s had prepared for litigation surrounding the couple’s divorce, and an appraisal by Richard Bellamy, an art dealer. Respondent Commissioner of the IRS claimed the Estate’s value was actually $8.2 million, based on its own experts’ appraisals. Both Robert’s and Ethel’s portions of the collection were auctioned in November 1986, netting $11.7 million total. The Tax Court used this figure and both respondent’s and petitioner’s experts’ appraisals for the unsold works to determine that the entire art collection was worth $12.2 million, of which the Etate’s 65% share was $7.6 million.


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