How do you value an art collection for divorce purposes?

On Behalf of | Nov 15, 2021 | Family Law |

If you are intending to divorce your spouse, you have probably thought about dividing your marital assets. Absent a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, Indiana law contemplates an equitable division of everything you and your spouse acquired during your marriage.

Many of your assets, such as your house, car and retirement accounts, are not likely to be difficult to value. Because of the unique nature of artwork, though, your art collection may be a different matter. Still, it benefits you to come up with a reasonably realistic valuation of every piece in your collection.

Why is artwork hard to value?

In the art world, it is often impossible to accurately value a piece until it sells. That is, artwork tends to be worth what someone will pay for it. Without selling the piece, you likely must rely on the expertise of an art collector or specialist.

According to reporting from Vox, the value of art often depends on consensus in the art world. While your appraiser may look at recent sales of comparable pieces, his or her estimate is likely to be a ballpark figure. Meanwhile, your soon-to-be ex-spouse’s valuation specialist may come up with a wildly different appraisal.

How do you find an appraiser for your collection?

Finding an appraiser for your art collection be equally difficult. After all, if you have one-of-a-kind pieces or eccentric tastes, you may need to collaborate with an appraiser who has specific experience with your type of artwork. For a general collection, however, a specialist at an auction house may be appropriate.

If you work with a divorce attorney who handles high-net-worth divorces, your lawyer may have some recommendations for art appraisers. Ultimately, though, to be certain you receive your fair share during your divorce, it may be advisable to obtain more than one appraisal of your collection.