Thursday, November 17, 2011

UPDATE: IRS art auction in Birmingham raises $144,000

Update to 11/09/11 post: Art, photo collection going up for bids after being seized from Birmingham attorney

The above work by Mickalene Thomas was auctioned off by the IRS in Birmingham, AL.

Works sell for less than 29% of estimated value
Text: Martin Swant | The Birmingham News
Photo: Michelle Campbell | The Birmingham News
November 16, 2011

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The Internal Revenue Service raised around $144,000 through selling at an art auction nearly 330 pieces of artwork seized to settle tax debt. The artwork was obtained from a Birmingham attorney to collect unpaid taxes, the IRS said.

The auction, held this morning at the Embassy Suites off U.S. 31 in Birmingham, included paintings and photographs by some well known artists, including Kerry James Marshall, Hank Willis Thomas, Raymond Pettibon, Mark Flood and Mickalene Thomas. The total collection was appraised at a value over $500,000.

Around 40 people were present for bidding, which began at 9 a.m. and ended around 12:15 p.m. The most expensive item sold was a piece by Mickalene Thomas, which was purchased for $18,000. However, many pieces sold for less than $100.

Dan Boone, spokesman for the IRS in Alabama and Nashville, said seizing and selling property isn't the the first option the agency tries when attempting to collect unpaid taxes. It's usually the last.

"Typically, we work out some kind of a payment plan with the tax payer," he said. " It is a last resort for us to seize and sell property."

The minimum bid for set by the IRS for the entire collection was $20,000. The winning bid for the collection was $90,000. However, during individual artwork bidding, the total sales surpassed that amount, so the pieces were sold separately.

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