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Fractional Donations, Scandal Coins Sold, Batman Collectibles Soar

by Sandra Lee Stuart (07/30/08).

Fractional donors seek full benefits

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that museums and collectors are pressuring Congress to ease restrictions on fractional donation of fine art and important collectibles. A fractional donation—also known as a partial gift—allows collectors to take a tax deduction on small stakes of their donation to a cultural institution and reap larger deductions as the value appreciates. Recent restrictions have made fractional donations very difficult as returns in the art market have soared. Revisions could be attached to other federal tax legislation.

Ohio closing coin-fraud scandal

A recent Toledo Blade article chronicled the latest installment in “coingate.” Liquidators in Ohio are completing the sale of rare coins and sports collectibles bought with state funds by former Republican fund-raiser and coin dealer, Tom Noe. He was convicted of stealing $13.7 million in transactions in 1998-2001. Ohio will recover nearly $55 million, but still lost millions in interest. Noe is appealing his 18-year prison sentence in one of recent history’s most intriguing collectibles scandals.

Holy Batman Collectibles!

“The Dark Knight” is smashing box-office records, grossing $300 million in just 10 days. And according to The Los Angeles Daily News, Dark Knight collectibles are soaring, as well. Busts of Christian Bale as Batman and the late Heath Ledger as the Joker that list for $100 apiece are back-ordered until September. “All of a sudden this is mainstream,” says Jason Labowitz, 37, whose longtime passion for collecting Star Wars memorabilia was the basis for opening Entertainment Earth in North Hollywood, a leading online store for film collectibles and action figures. “When everybody else was into girls, I was still collecting these toys,” he says.

Jason, grab your lightsaber

This might be Jason Labowitz’s best summer since he was 9. The next installment in the George Lucas blockbuster Star Wars series opens August 15. “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” is the first fully animated Star Wars feature. The Tampa Tribune reports that collectors are grabbing the new line of toys released by Toys“R”Us in advance of the opening. The toy-store giant orchestrated midnight openings from New York to Tokyo beginning July 26. Topping collectors’ lists are action figures and die-cast replicas of Republic attack cruisers. Figurines in their original boxes from previous Star Wars films now sell for more than 10 times their original price.

Open Up in the Name of the . . .

Men masquerading as British police officers stole a Devon stamp collection worth nearly $1 million. A 60-year-old collector and his two adult sons were tied up when they let the robbers into the house, The Daily Telegraph reports.

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