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Gimme Shelter

It won't keep you dry in a storm, but art makes a great tax break!

Here's a riddle: What investment is both beautiful and worth a sizeable tax deduction? Give up? The answer is museum-quality art purchased wholesale.

A Fort Lauderdale, Florida, entrepreneur offers high-net-worth individuals just such an opportunity through his company, ArtShelter. "What we're doing is best for people who need a bona fide tax deduction, have a philanthropic soul and have probably invested in other areas, such as the stock market," says ArtShelter founder Steven Brier.

Here's how it works. An investor purchases a minimum of 10 pieces of museum-quality original or limited edition works from ArtShelter at a wholesale price, keeps them for at least one year and one day, and then donates all or a few of them to a qualifying nonprofit. Then, when the collector files taxes, he or she can deduct the retail appraised value of the donated art, regardless of the actual amount paid.

The contemporary sculptures, paintings, prints, photos and other works ArtShelter sells are created by established artists whose art is already included in the collections of museums and other noted art collectors. And because at the end of the day you're donating it all to a nonprofit, this could be the feel-good investment of the year.

This story appears in the February 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »