Many high-earning couples devote many hours to finding and purchasing one-of-a-kind pieces of art for their collection. Artwork and other unique collectibles purchased during the marriage can pose certain challenges when it comes time to divide the property between the two spouses in a divorce. The greatest challenge is often determining the true value of the piece, particularly at the time of the divorce.
Valuation of artwork
Generally, both spouses will hire their own appraisers to determine the value of each piece of marital art in the parties’ collection at the time of the divorce. The judge will then review both appraisers’ reports and settle on a final value.
Appraisers will consider the condition of the piece, where the piece originated, and several other factors when determining the value of the piece. An appraiser may refer to private and auction sales records of comparable pieces that have been sold recently. However, this is not always a straightforward process, especially when the piece is rare. While the two appraisers may similarly value certain pieces, they may disagree on the value of others.
What happens next?
Valuing the artwork is not the only challenge. Once the piece is valued, the parties or the court will have to decide what happens to the piece, since it obviously cannot be cut in half. In New York, marital property is subject to equitable division, meaning that the property will be fairly and equitably distributed between the parties, but not necessarily equally divided.
The best option is often to sell the entire collection and split the proceeds evenly between the spouses. However, if the spouses want to keep certain pieces for themselves, or if both spouses are interested the same pieces, things can become more complicated. Family law experts can come up with possible solutions for complex property division issues and help protect your interests throughout the divorce process.