In some divorces, beloved art is worth more than its price tag

by | Jan 16, 2018 | High-Asset Divorce |

California is home to many wealthy couples who have gone through high-asset divorces. When a large amount of money is involved, any asset could be the subject of a million-dollar legal battle. One of the issues that may arise during property division is who gets to keep an art collection that took decades to curate. In many cases, an art collection is even more sentimentally valuable to a spouse that its price tag indicates.

Property interests in high-profile marriage breakups can include real estate, business assets and even offshore accounts. However, art is often a personal matter that can be difficult to split during a divorce. The recent dramatic increase in the monetary value of fine art has heightened conflict in separations involving billionaire couples. Not only are the collections themselves fought over, but so is credit from philanthropic gifts or long-term loans of priceless art. The Art Institute of Chicago recently changed the name of a an atrium after its donors slit up.

Experts point out that, in addition to the sentimental nature of an art collection, valuation of art is highly subjective. As some may put it, estimates of value are meaningless — the only way to determine the price of a piece is to sell it. Unfortunately, selling a painting, sculpture or other work of art means that a divorcing couple will no longer have it in their collection.

Complex asset division may be best handled with the assistance of an attorney experienced in the world of high-asset divorce. Some property is worth more than its price, and the right lawyer can help clients make sure that such assets are split as fairly as possible.