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How is artwork valued in a divorce?

On Behalf of | May 19, 2022 | Property Division

With world famous art museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York has become one of the world’s most iconic cities for arts and culture. As a result, many New York couples have formed their own collections of valuable sculptures, paintings, and other works of art.

Fine art pieces can be worth thousands of dollars and hold great sentimental value to both spouses. So, what happens if the couple decides to divorce? Generally, courts will determine how to best divide the collection among divorcing spouses.

How is property divided in a New York divorce?

When dividing up the assets in a New York divorce, courts will follow the legal theory of equitable distribution. This means that the courts will divide all marital assets fairly and equitably between the divorcing spouses.

However, equitably distributing property does not mean that everything will be divided equally between the divorcing spouses. Each marital asset must be valued and after considering several factors, the court will decide what should happen with the asset.

Valuing artwork for a divorce

To determine the value of an art collection, courts will refer to appraisals submitted by the divorcing couple. In some cases, the couple will agree to consult with a neutral appraiser and submit just one appraisal to the court. In other cases, each spouse will choose to seek their own appraisers, and two or more appraisals will be submitted to the court.

It can be difficult to determine the true value of an art collection, as it often depends on the current market. As a result, if multiple appraisals are submitted, the court may order the parties to sell the art to determine its true value.

If you and your spouse value your art collection but cannot agree on its value, it may be best to consult with an attorney. Your attorney can help you hold on to the pieces you want, and obtain the highest amount possible for the pieces you sell.