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Art collections at stake in high-asset divorce

When people in Illinois decide to divorce, it can lead to significant financial changes, especially when both spouses are wealthy or own valuable assets. Two divorces among art collectors, with each couple holding hundreds of millions of dollars in valuable artworks, have shined a spotlight on property division when high-value collectibles are involved. Asset division can be complex even when the assets being addressed are primarily investments or retirement funds; both parties want to protect their property and secure their financial future. However, the potential for dispute over these issues may escalate when unique items like art are at stake as both parties may want to retain ownership of particularly desirable pieces.

When people decide to divorce, their marital assets are up for division on an equitable basis, especially if there is no prenuptial agreement governing their distribution. As a result, in one couple's divorce, the art at issue was purchased between the date of their marriage in 2005 and the initial divorce filing in 2016. In most cases, art or other property owned by either party prior to the marriage is not considered part of the marital property.

Some spouses may attempt to hide assets in the event of a divorce by creating a trust or an offshore corporation, but the other spouse may still succeed in obtaining a fair settlement if they can show that these items are marital property. When valuable collections are at stake, independent appraisals can be an important part of the process to set a fair price for each item as a framework for an overall financial settlement.

High-income divorces may involve a range of complex assets and investments as well as valuable collections. A family law attorney may work with financial advisors and experts in order to help a divorcing spouse protect their property and reach a fair settlement.

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