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How do you value your possessions during a Watertown divorce?

Posted by Thomas Pettinicchi of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Aug 02, 2012 in Property Division

Possessions are a funny thing. Almost everything has a market value, but most people do not define the item by only that price during divorce. In most states, a pet is considered a piece of property that simply needs to go to one spouse or the other. For the pet owners in Watertown, the animal is often seen more as an invaluable member of the family.

Art is much the same. For some couples the market value is not the only thing that can be considered when determining how property should be divided. One high-asset divorce shows just how complicated art can be.

The couple in this case owned an art collection that had a market value of $102 million. Both spouses thought it fair that each receive $51 million worth of the 47 pieces -- 43 of which were paintings. The couple gave it the good college try and attempted to divide the pieces so that each spouse got their $51 million half of the collection. They tried twice and failed twice.

It was not that they could not work together. It was that they had very different ideas when it came to decide what work of art would fall on whose side of the line. What they learned was that not only did they disagree on how it should be divided, but they realized that there were so many other factors to consider.

For example, selling the collection and splitting the profit down the middle did not seem like a realistic option to either spouse or the judge. The two spouses did not want to part with works containing the signatures of great artists like Monet and Renoir. There was also the fear that selling the entire collection at once would flood the market.

Another issue was the fact that some of the pieces were hung overseas. One piece was created by a famous and well-loved English artist by the name of Jasper Francis Cropsey. Removing it from their London home would require a special export license from the English government, and not one that would be easily granted.

So what did the judge decide? Read our next post to figure out how a solution was found that satisfied the needs of both spouses.

Source: The Seattle Times, "The art of divorce: She gets the Monet, he gets the Renoir," July 28, 2012