The trouble with splitting up art during divorce

On Behalf of | Jun 1, 2018 | High Asset Divorce |

Trying to divide some assets during divorce is fairly easy, because finding out the value of those assets is simple. For instance, perhaps you bought a car for $50,000 and now it is worth $30,000. You can find plenty of comparable vehicles online in seconds to determine the value of the car.

But what about an art collection? Art is often bought as an investment, and the value increases. Plus, the “value” is a bit subjective. Art is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. If you’re not actually selling, how do you determine the value?

You can have it appraised, but even that does not always lead to solid numbers. For instance, one wealthy couple had a collection that some people thought was worth a stunning $1 billion. Not everyone agreed. In fact, it was reported that both sides were “hundreds of millions of dollars apart.”

That’s not a small gap; it’s the value of a house. Indeed, some experts have said that serious art collections are sometime worth more than the buildings they are kept in. The real estate market is fairly well established, though, and home values — like cars — are easy to find. Artwork is a bit of a gray area. If someone thinks a painting is worth $20 million but cannot find anyone to buy it, is it actually worth $20 million?

A high-asset divorce involving artwork can get very complicated and contentious. It is important for people on both sides of the disagreement to fully understand all of the legal options they have.

Source: Town and Country, “In a High Profile Divorce, Who Gets the Art?,” Julie Belcove, accessed June 01, 2018