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Who Gets the Artwork in a Florida Divorce?


Who gets the Monet, the Van Gogh, and the Warhol? What about the Leibovitz or Golden? Surprisingly, the question of who gets the artwork is one of the most hotly contested issues in today’s divorce proceedings. According to a Memphis attorney quoted by the Wall Street Journal, artwork often falls into the same category as child-custody battles. This is because people develop emotional attachments to artwork that far outweigh the financial value. For this reason, it takes much longer to decide who gets the paintings or the pottery than it does to divvy up cars, money, or even real estate.

Our Boca Raton property division lawyers at WiseLieberman, PLLC, strive to help divorcing couples avoid friction over artwork and decide peaceably and equitably who gets what by helping them understand a few legal and tax basics. If you and your spouse want to disburse your art collection in the fairest possible manner, contact our divorce law firm today.

Take Inventory 

One of the first things you should do either with your spouse or separately is take inventory of your shared and separate collections. Make a detailed list, and take picutresof all the art you bought prior to getting married, all the art you bought together while married, all that art you sold and at what price, and art that has not yet been sold. You should also specify the location of the pieces, for reasons into which we will delve in the next section.

Art, like any other asset, can be categorized as marital or separate property. Any art you obtained before the marriage, while you were separated, or possibly after you filed for divorce is not considered marital property. This is the case even if one party agreed to purchase a piece prior to the union and it arrived after you and your spouse exchanged vows. Any artwork you or your spouse acquired or made while you were married and before you separated is considered marital property.

Disclose Everything 

It is imperative you and your spouse disclose information regarding every piece of artwork and collectible that you own. Failure to do so could lead to lawsuits and charges of fraud. If you or your spouse is guilty of hiding assets, half or even 100 percent of any undisclosed assets may be awarded to the other spouse, regardless of to whom it rightfully belongs. This is why you should specify the exact location of all art pieces and take pictures of the art

Hire an Appraiser

Once you and your spouse have taken inventory of your art, have an expert appraiser come in and provide a real value of each piece. As we mentioned above, it is not uncommon for individuals to grow attached to collectibles and therefore assume that pieces are far more valuable than they actually are. Likewise, appraisals often reveal pieces are MORE valuable than what parties initially thought. For these reasons, it is essential you obtain a professional valuation. You and your spouse may agree to hire one person to perform the assessment or you may wish to hire your own professionals to perform separate assessments.

If you hire separate appraisers, you face an additional challenge if appraisals are conflicting. When this happens, you and your spouse may either agree to take the differences into account when negotiating who gets which pieces or you may agree to split the difference. Whatever you decide, the final step is to divide artwork equally by value and, if necessary, to include other assets in the bargaining.

Why Work With an Asset Division Attorney 

If you and your spouse accumulated a significant amount of artwork and collectibles over the years, you may be concerned about the allocation of certain pieces that may hold more sentimental value than actual value or vice versa. Chances are that your spouse holds the same concerns, and that he or she has hired an attorney to help negotiate a fair distribution on his or her behalf. If you hope to obtain a favorable outcome, you need to do the same. Contact WiseLieberman, PLLC, today to learn more about how our Boca Raton asset division lawyers can help you.



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