Who gets the art? Division of valuable assets in divorce

| Apr 2, 2018 | Property Division |

In the process of divorce, the court divides the property between the divorcing parties. This is no major revelation, and in concept this is a pretty simple operation: After determining the value of the various properties to be divided, the court separates the property between the two.

The problems often arise when it comes to determining the value of the properties. Especially in high-asset divorces that involve major holdings, properties of fluctuating values, extremely high value properties and other multi-dimensional assets.

Determining the Value of High-Value Assets

A recent article in Town & Country online discusses some recent divorces that involved the division of extremely valuable and important pieces of art.

For our purposes, the details of the divorces are not important. What matters is the challenges in dividing valuable and complex properties.

The article reports that the lawyers were “hundreds of millions of dollars apart as they bickered over appraisals of works by Picasso, Giacometti, Twombly, Rothko, and Warhol.” They also debated over whether one of the spouses put together the collection independently and what impact that could have on the final asset division order.

When valuating unique and extremely expenses assets like works of art, the market is always fluctuating. The old adage “it’s worth what someone is willing to pay for it,” while true, makes valuation complicated in these cases.

It would be much simpler to just sell off the properties and split the money, but most of the time neither spouse wants to take this route. Especially art, but a lot of valuable items only appreciate over time, so it’s wise to hang onto these items as long as possible to realize their maximum value.

So when it comes to assessing the value of these items, it’s important to work with a team of professionals you can trust. Most lawyers who have the experience needed for this situation will either have the expertise to valuate property or will more likely have professionals they work with who are expert appraisers.

Most of the important work regarding valuation of property happens in the mediation sessions and other negotiations, rather than in the courtroom. You don’t want to run the risk of having a judge make this important of a determination. With experts providing accurate value judgments and a seasoned negotiator on your legal team, you will be able to protect your interests and get the results you need.

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