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Who gets the artwork?

by | Aug 28, 2018 | Divorce |

Dividing assets during divorce can be complicated for those with large estates, businesses and complicated finances. Asset where there are sliding scales for value generally require outside experts to provide accurate valuation. This is especially true when a couple is trying value or divide an art collection.

The media will often cover the divorce of the super rich, often focusing on fancy real estate or an art collection. One recent example is New York socialites Linda and Harry Macklowe’s collection of postwar and contemporary art, which some estimate to be worth as much as half of the couple’s $2 billion estate. The collection features pieces by Picasso, Rothko and Warhol. With the skyrocketing value of art in recent years, art’s value is much more than decorative or sentimental in estates these days, whether you are a billionaire or not.

Legally speaking

In one respect, dividing the art is no different than objects purchased. Like the pots and pans, art was bought either before the marriage or during the marriage. Texas is a community property state, which means that anything bought during the marriage is community property. Community property generally does not include gifts or inheritance gained during the marriage.

The intangible worth of art

“Art-lovers” may have a deep connection to pieces of art (or they are well aware that their spouse does). Unless there is a prenuptial agreement regarding the art, the art is generally divided based on the various estimates of value. However, there may be additional sentimental value to certain pieces and there is room for negotiation. If the divorce does go to court, one spouse may also try to illustrate their attachment to the art as grounds for getting it, but this may not sway the judge.

An attorney is a huge asset

Guidance from an experienced Board-Certified Family Law attorney can be a tremendous asset during divorce, while dividing the estate and even splitting the artwork. Moreover, such an experienced legal advocate skilled in negotiation will be particularly useful in protecting your interests in disputes where the value of the asset varies and there is also an emotional attachment.