Valuing Art

Boris Leavitt amassed a fortune in the mail order business and left a contemporary art collection that was appraised at $12.4 million when he died in June 1996. One work alone, Willem de Kooning's was worth $9 million. At auction five months later, the collection fetched a total of $20 million with selling for $15 million. Soon after, the Internal Revenue Service's Art Advisory Panel found that Leavitt's

Boris Leavitt amassed a fortune in the mail order business and left a contemporary art collection that was appraised at $12.4 million when he died in June 1996. One work alone, Willem de Kooning's “Woman,” was worth $9 million. At auction five months later, the collection fetched a total of $20 million — with “Woman” selling for $15 million.

Soon after, the Internal Revenue Service's Art Advisory Panel found that Leavitt's estate had undervalued his art collection by $7.6 million and

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