How do you divide expensive art during a divorce?

On Behalf of | Dec 6, 2021 | Uncategorized |

As you prepare to go through your divorce, one of the things you’ll need to do is divide your assets. Of your shared marital assets, you may have valuable art pieces. Those art pieces may be worth hundreds, thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more.

Dividing those pieces of artwork in a fair manner matters. Before you can divide them, you will need to get appraisals to determine their value.

Can’t you just use the sale price to appraise an art piece?

Some people may be comfortable setting the value of the art as the price they paid to obtain it, but the reality of the art world is that different pieces of art are valued at different amounts at various times. What cost you $2,500 a few years ago may now be worth $70,000 or more, for example, if an artist became very popular.

It is better to get an official appraisal to know the true value of the piece. One issue with this is, though, that not all appraisals are the same. Appraisers may value artwork differently based on their specific markets or what they believe they could get for the piece at auction. For this reason, it is wise for you and your spouse to choose one appraiser together or to have two different appraisers work on appraisals for your artwork.

Then, you can choose to take the appraisal you agree with. For example, if you have one appraisal for $500,000 and another for $400,000, you might take the lower appraisal, higher appraisal or meet somewhere in the middle.

Once you know the value of the artwork, consider how to divide it

Some people prefer to sell a piece of art and split the proceeds in whatever way they’ve decided is fair. Others will want to keep the piece in exchange for other assets in the home. It’s up to you and your spouse to determine how you’d like to divide the asset. New York law allows for equitable distribution, so you have the freedom to work out a settlement that you both think is fair.