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Dividing art collections in a divorce

On Behalf of | Jan 6, 2022 | High-Asset Divorce

Some California couples amass sizeable art collections during their marriages. When the relationship ends, artwork collected during the marriage will be part of the marital estate and subject to division. Since art collections can be especially valuable, it is important to ensure that they are properly accounted for and valued when couples are going through divorces.

Importance of keeping detailed records

Whenever people acquire new pieces of art to add to their collections, they need to keep an inventory. The inventory should include the date the piece was purchased, the bill of sale, any certificate of authenticity, and an appraisal. This type of information can be helpful when determining which works were purchased before the marriage and which were added during the marriage. Pieces of art that were brought into the marriage by one spouse will remain his or her separate property and will not be divided. If any pieces of art are sold during the couple’s separation, the amount should be noted because it could potentially factor into the property division.

Protecting an art collection with a prenuptial agreement

One way for someone to try to protect the art collections that they built or inherited prior to getting married is to enter into a prenuptial agreement. The agreement could specify the artwork that will remain the separate property of the owner and how any additional pieces that are added to the collection during the marriage will be handled in the event of a high-asset divorce.

Art collections can be among the most valuable types of assets people might accumulate during their marriages. If a spouse intends to divorce, he or she might want to gather as many records as possible about the works of art included in the collection before filing a divorce petition. It might be easier to gather these documents in advance instead of trying to get copies of them after the divorce petition is filed.