How to Value Art in Divorce

When it comes to negotiating assets in divorce, many couples find themselves in need of artful tactics to secure their interests. Indeed, disagreements in marriage and divorce are as old as art itself. In recent years, art collections have grown as the value of many pieces continues to appreciate. But, as the value of art increases, so does the conflict among art-collecting couples seeking divorce.

What does the value of art mean to couples in divorce and how is it affecting asset division?

Property division in New York

When determining who gets what in divorce, couples must add up the total value of assets and divide them. New York is an equitable distribution state, meaning that each person will receive a share of assets that gives them a fair chance at maintaining their quality of life after divorce. Just like retirement accounts and vehicles, art is considered an asset.

While you might perceive an art piece to have a different dollar value or sentimental value from a piece of furniture, their price tag is what really matters in divorce; and for high-asset couples, splitting up the easels from the easy chairs can be a challenging task.

It is in the eye of the beholder

As the old saying goes, art is in the eye of the beholder and the same can be said for its value. According to Town & Country Magazine, many people find it difficult to place a dollar amount on an individual art piece because the value isn't known until it sells. This uncertainty can leave couples in disagreement as other assets are negotiated in the divorce agreement to make up for the rising and falling value of the art.

Although adding art to divorce can make for an abstract formula, couples can use a few strategies when determining the art's value in divorce including:

  • Check to see if an art piece was owned prior to marriage or included in any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements.
  • Examine how the art was purchased and who contributes to that account
  • Keep art used for business separate from personally-owned household art
  • Be willing to downsize a collection during divorce by prioritizing pieces to sell

Negotiating the value of art can be as tedious as creating it, but for savvy couples, understanding art's place in asset division can help paint a better picture of life after divorce.