Family Law Specialist Certified By The State Bar Of California

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3 solutions to divide artworks in a divorce

On Behalf of | Jun 24, 2024 | DIVORCE - High-Asset Divorce

Some assets are much easier to divide than others during a divorce. For example, a million dollars in the bank is worth – a million dollars. You can easily split it in whatever ratio you or a court decides upon. Compare that to an artwork where the value may be up for debate and splitting the actual asset is not an option. 

If you made a prenuptial agreement this may provide you with the answer as to what happens to your art in a divorce. If you don’t then you need to consider alternatives:

1. Selling it all 

This was the solution one judge used when a high-profile pair of art collectors could not agree on the value of their artworks in a divorce. He ordered them to put their whole art collection up for sale, allowing the market to determine the value of the pieces. The proceeds could then be taken in the form of dollars and factored into the overall division process.

2. Taking turns to pick pieces you want to keep

You might have to toss a coin for who picks first, but from that point forward you can just take turns to pick which item you want to keep. It means you might lose out on some pieces you want but that’s true for the other party as well. At least, you will both emerge with some pieces of art to show for it.

3. Making trade-offs

There is one sculpture in your house that you really love. It was you who chose it, despite your spouse’s protests. That does not mean they will automatically let you keep it. They might insist they want it to spite you. Or they might have grown to like it with time. If you want to keep it you may need to offer them something in return. For example, you keep the sculpture but will allow them to keep the painting from the hallway you both love. Or you keep both but you will give them a certain amount of stocks and shares in exchange.

Property division can be particularly complex in a high-asset divorce where things like artworks are involved. Seeking guidance is wise.