The most amazing first line you will ever read features Jeffrey Archer, taxes and a Satan statue

Jeffery Archer in 2005
Jeffery Archer in 2005

Truth is often stranger than fiction. So you'd be forgiven for having to read the following sentence more than once:

Lord Jeffrey Archer, the millionaire author, former MP and convicted perjurer, has trimmed his tax bill by donating a statue of Satan to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

The Financial Times' James Pickford published a story yesterday about the infamous Tory peer's donation, which saved him £48,000 in taxes, made through the Cultural Gifts Scheme.

The Cultural Gifts Scheme is a tax break launched by the government in 2013 which gives living donors a tax cut for donating cultural artefacts to the nation rather than selling them. Archer's gift was listed in its annual report.

It is the first time Archer, who has an estimated worth of £140m, has made a museum donation. A spokesperson for the peer said he is planning at least three others in the near future.

The miniature bronze Satan/Mephistopheles, by French artist Jean-Jacques Feuchère, is thought to have served as inspiration for Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker.

It will be the centrepiece of a new 19th century gallery at the Ashmolean, opening later this year.

The museum told the FT it is “profoundly grateful” for the donation.

HT: Jo Maugham

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