Art, Collections, and Community Property
I have kids. Young ones. They exemplify the term, “This is why we can’t have nice things.” Our art is mostly made by them, or from a local housewares store.
In my career, I have run across several couples with collections of valuable fine art. Every time, the fine art collection has posed a problem in the division of property. Here are some examples of the real arguments I have heard about art and other collections:
- “My parents bought that painting for me as a wedding gift.”
- “I have always had a deep emotional attachment to that sculpture.”
- “I was the one who collected all of those fine china plates from around the world.”
- “I worked in the gallery that sold this artist, and I bought that painting from the artist himself using my employee discount.”
- “If it wasn’t for me, she wouldn’t even have known which Matchbox cars to collect.”
- “He he gave me that AR-15 for my birthday.”
There are two problems with any collection of valuable items, including art, while you are dividing them in a divorce:
- They have actual cash value as a collection, and individually.
- They form a part of the emotional history of the relationship.
The simple advice in this article from the Wall Street Journal is excellent, but only really works if at least one party comes to terms with the second of these two issues: the emotional attachment to the art or collection. The toughest part often is in finding an appraiser who can place a reliable value on the collection. The internet is a great resource to find appraisers for just about any collection.
When you are dividing items from the household, emotional distance is key. The more intrinsic value you place in an object, the more power you give to the other side. Find your Zen, find an appraiser, and divide your community property.
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