I always enjoy juxtaposing seemingly unrelated news items published in the same issue of a newspaper. Â Today’s topic: Â markets and pricing. Â Two situations, related (I think) but not identical. Â From last Sunday’s New York Times:
“An Artifact, or a Payday” New York Yankees pitcher Don Larsen, who pitched the only perfect game in World Series history, will auction off his jersey from that game — after reclaiming it from a San Diego sports museum to which he had previously given, er, loaned, the jersey. Â The museum isn’t putting up much of a fight. Â In the hands of Larsen, and of the collector who may buy the thing, the jersey is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Â In the hands of the museum (the San Diego Hall of Champions), the jersey doesn’t have a value: Â it’s history, made available publicly to any one who pays the modest admission fee ($8 adults, $4 children, $6 for students, seniors, and vets).
Don Larsen is taking what might be called a priceless artifact, in other words, putting on the market, and giving it a price.
He says that he is trying to raise money for his grandchildren’s college education, which is a respectable, even generous and honorable, thing to do. Â One wonders whether the Yankees have an interest in the jersey. Â One wonders as well whether the pitcher tried to take a tax deduction when he transferred the jersey to the museum in the first place.
Did someone say taxes?
“Artâ€™s Sale Value? Zero. The Tax Bill? $29 Million.” The heirs of the art dealer New York art dealer Ileana Sonnabend are at odds with the IRS over taxes allegedly due on “â€œCanyon,â€ a sculptural combine and master work of 20th-century art created by Robert Rauschenberg, which Sonnabend’s children inherited on her death. The work includes a stuffed bald eagle. Under federal law, that means that the piece cannot be sold. Nonetheless, the IRS has attached a fair market value of $65 million and is claiming past due taxes, and penalties, of more than $29 million.
The IRS is trying to take what really has been called a priceless artifact, because there is no lawful price (no market) for it, and giving it a price.