An article in the February 2018 issue of Town & Country Magazine reported on several high-profile divorces where expensive art collections played a major role in the proceedings.
Harry and Linda Macklowe, who are divorcing in New York after 58 years of marriage, have a collection valued by some at $1 billion. Both sides are hundreds of millions of dollars apart on the valuation of the art collection, which includes works by Picasso, Warhol, Twombly, Rothko and Giacometti. Also at issue is who was most responsible for building the collection. Linda is a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim and claims she was the main architect of the collection. Harry says it was his money that paid for it. The litigation is getting lengthier and costlier.
Under the law, art that has been acquired during a marriage is like any other asset and is subject to equitable distribution in a New Jersey divorce. However, getting contentious parties to agree on what constitutes an equitable distribution when it comes to pricey artworks is dicey, involving warring appraisers and more litigation. When it comes down to it, the only way to determine the value of a piece of art is to sell it.
When divorcing couples cannot decide on equitable distribution of assets, a judge will make that decision for them. The best way to head off a series of courtroom battles is to include art collections in a prenuptial agreement. A prenup can protect art that one spouse already owns or will inherit. It can also be used to establish a framework for what happens to an art collection in the event of a divorce.
Whether or not a prenup exists, art lovers who may stop being married lovers need to keep detailed records, especially payment records. If the money to purchase a painting comes from a joint account, both parties may have a claim to it, but if non-marital funds were used, it might be a different story.
One more cautionary note: your prenup should be written in a language both parties understand. A judge threw out a prenuptial agreement between art gallery owners Nathalie Karg and Anton Kern that was written in German because Karg could not understand it when she signed it.
You deserve a legal team that will maintain trust, respect, and dignity throughout your divorce process, while still delivering high quality advocacy and superior outcomes. Protecting your interests and achieving results which supports your needs is what you can expect from Cistaro Law. Contact us today for your free consultation.