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Before you divide the artwork: The importance of valuation

Assets that a couple obtains during the marriage become marital property, and these have to be divided in a Georgia divorce. Forbes warns that unlike financial assets, personal property does not have a straightforward price tag that can be used as a bargaining tool when spouses are trying to decide who gets what. Artwork falls under this category, and while some may have more sentimental than monetary value, others may be worth more than the house. In either case, a proper valuation may tip the scales on who gets to keep the piece in question.

According to the Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, most artwork falls under the category of fine art, and in most cases, it is beneficial to hire an appraiser who is a specialist in that particular medium. For example, a person who is determining the value of a painting would need to consider its condition, which may also include the frame. Who the artist is may make a significant difference, too.

The appraiser decides what the best methodology is for reaching the correct valuation, and this should be justifiable in court. For artwork, many choose to use the market comparison approach. Different markets may be considered, such as wholesale or private dealers, galleries, and auction venues. Many courts prefer auctions for this purpose, although some have ruled that fair market value cannot be determined by the price the artwork would bring at a forced sale auction. Depending on the rarity of the art and other factors, a local or international auction house may be the source of the determination.

If it appears that the spouse who had the appraisal done has provided a valuation that is much lower than the item’s actual value, the court may not consider the testimony of the appraiser as evidence when deciding who will receive that work.

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