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Art collections should be appraised in a divorce

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2018 | Property Division |

If you are involved in a divorce in Maricopa County and have a valuable art collection, it’s vital that you have the pieces professionally appraised prior to agreeing to any proposed property settlement.

Because the art world is unregulated, anyone can hang out a shingle as an art dealer and price the art as arbitrarily as they choose. Finding a reputable appraiser can let you know the correct market value of the pieces in your collection.

If your soon-to-be ex is unscrupulous, he or she can allege the value of a painting or sculpture is much less than it actually would sell for at a gallery or auction. This is not a time to be naive or trusting. Now is when accuracy is crucial. Art is appraised and evaluated in a manner similar to that of stock or real estate.

To a great extent, the art market determines the price. If the art was created by a recognized master who is now deceased, e.g., a Picasso or Warhol, you can expect that it will command a much higher price than a piece bought from an up-and-coming artist who has recently been “discovered.”

Appraisers research the artist’s career accomplishments, sales histories and the quality of the piece. That can include inspecting its detail, craftsmanship, history of ownership, condition, subject matter and comparable works by the artist.

Choose an art appraiser who has no ties to the artist or seller to avoid conflicts of interest. If you had your collection appraised more than five years ago, get another appraisal done now. The price of art fluctuates with the market, and yours may have increased in value or depreciated if the market is now flooded with works by that artist.

Art price databases can put you in the ballpark, but you might wind up in the nosebleed section. Don’t settle for informal appraisals when your collection has real value.

Working hand-in-glove with your family law attorney can ensure that you get the most from the property settlement in your divorce.

Source:, “Why Having Your Art Appraised is a Good Idea Advantages of Professional Art Pricing,” accessed Feb. 02, 2018