The hidden art you own…

Maori wearing hei-tiki. Source:

Maori wearing hei-tiki. Source:

Another list of artworks. This time a database from Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that contains, according to Mark Brown and Natalie Gil from the Guardian, 115000 artworks. These artworks are inherited by private owners, but deferred from inheritance tax as long as the public has access to view them (28 days per year). Apparently this little deal has cost the taxpayer over the last 10 years £1.15bn. What a waste. Lets cut this crap and invest it in contemporary art… If the owners love it so much let them pay tax, or sell it. If you look at the ‘miscellaneous’ category that is really a hilarious list, full of military crap, medals and spoils: “A German Guard Pickelhaube bearing the motto MIT GOTT FUR KOEINIG UND VATERLAND on the wings of the brass eagle on the brow, with, in the centre, a star containing the Latin motto SUUM CUIQUE.”

But my eye fell on an interesting item nr. 30: A Nephrite ‘Hei-tiki’ with mother-of-pearl eyes and original leather thong – 5in. high. A quick search in the database of the British Museum shows several of these items, so what is the exact nature of this ‘Hei-tiki’ that warrants tax deferral because they “are important to the cultural life of the UK”? As the Hei-tiki are a Maori cultural artifact, probably nicked a few centuries ago, should that not be returned to New-zealand?

To find out which artworks are included go to:



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