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Could divorce send your collection to the auction block?

Could divorce send your collection to the auction block?

Auctioneers say that there are three big “Ds” that send art and other collectibles to the auction block: debt, death and divorce. Could your divorce result in a lifelong collection of art or other valuables being put up for auction?

It depends.

A lot of times, debt and divorce are twin factors in the decision to put a pricey art collection back on the market. If you have a large collection of paintings, statuary, antiques, jewelry, stamps, coins, movie memorabilia or other items that collectors crave, it often makes the most sense to liquidate at least part of that collection in order to have the funds to transition to single life. It may even make sense to get rid of a large (and space-consuming) collection if you intend to move into smaller quarters post-divorce.

However, there are other times when a collection ends up being auctioned off because the parties involved simply aren’t willing to negotiate about the value of that collection. The collection ends up being sold, and the proceeds get divided between the warring couple as a result.

For example, the world’s biggest auction houses are gearing up for a big battle over the art collection of developer Harry Macklowe and his estranged spouse. Avid art collectors since 1959, the couple even own the “Nine Marilyns” and “Sixteen Jackies” by Andy Warhol. Now, the court is forcing the couple to part with their collection at auction after being unable to find a middle ground about the collection’s value. The billionaire’s expert says the collect is worth $788 million. His wife’s expert claims it is worth only $625 million.

The judge is allowing the wife to keep 100 works of art in her collection. Her husband is to receive a credit for half their $39.9 million value. That leaves at least 64 major works up for sale — and collectors are already queuing up for the chance to obtain them.

It’s a shame when a lifelong collection ends up a casualty of divorce. That can often be avoided when parties are willing to work together to find equitable ways to divide their assets. For help with your own complex property division issues, talk to an experienced divorce attorney today.

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