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Dividing artwork in divorce

On Behalf of | Aug 25, 2022 | High-Asset Divorce |

Divorce is rarely straightforward, but sometimes the division of marital property is simple. Take a joint savings account, for example: the balance is readily observable, and easily divided and split between two parties. On the other hand, some assets, like fine art or antiques, can be more aesthetically pleasing, but more complicated to divide equitably in divorce, especially for less famous pieces or artists.

Assess the value, then divide

Artwork requires special considerations due to the valuation of the piece or collection. Generally, art or antiques acquired during the duration of the marriage become marital property. If you want to divide the potential proceeds of a given item, a knowledgeable assessment of the value is necessary to ensure both parties receive an equitable portion of the value. This can become complicated because either party may ascribe sentimental value to the artwork. Both parties may need to provide expert value testimony.

Future implications

Artwork has potential for more complications than solely the value of the piece itself. If the piece is likely to appreciate or depreciate in the future, an expert can factor these potentialities into the property division process. For all copyrightable works, there are also considerations for the intellectual rights to future use of the work. Accordingly, shared rights to any intellectual property can make the property division process costly and complicated. A lawyer experienced in property division can offer negotiation advice and a practical path forward to settlement.

More assets can be more challenging

If you, your spouse, or both of you have a lot of assets, your divorce is classified as a high-asset divorce. This means that the equitable division of your marital property can present challenges that require various experts to testify or attest to values. There is more than one solution to the art riddle that you or experts may arrive at with discussion. A horse trade is in order where art kept by one party negates or offsets art kept by the other (or some other benefit). Negotiations may lead to creative solutions. Knowledge is power for any divorce settlement, so seeking counsel skilled with handling complex issues (such as the division of a fine art collection) is of paramount importance.