Question: My wife and I are going to get a divorce. We haven't filed any papers with the court as yet and we have not hired divorce lawyers. I'm writing to get some advice about our art collection. We have been collecting art together for most of our 35-year marriage. We live here in Buckhead but we have travelled around the world and bought art for our collection. We've bought art in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London, Kenya and South Africa, as well as and in Tokyo and Beijing.
We have African art, Japanese art and a lot of American art like Warhol, Hopper, Homer and Stella, as well as European pieces from Picasso, Rodin and Rembrandt. We have prints, lithographs, sculptures and original paintings and many other things that we've accumulated over the years.
We both work. I work as a consultant and my wife is a doctor at a hospital in Atlanta. I think my wife is having some mental issues that she refuses to address and I no longer can live with her. She thinks I'm seeing a lady with whom I work.
Since we're divorcing I want to know what will happen to our art collection. I don't know if I want to sell it because we have so much time and money invested in it, but I do have debts and I'm sure the divorce won't be cheap and I need to win. We want to talk about the possibilities before we hire divorce attorneys.
A.L. in Atlanta, Georgia
Answer: As divorce attorneys, we have had many clients who have accumulated valuable collections while they were married. These collections have included cars, art, wine, watches, furniture, antiques, books and sports memorabilia. The collections can be treated in many different ways when a couple divorces.
Sometimes the collection is properly appraised by experts and it is sold. The sale can be to private collectors or it can be auctioned by a reputable international auction house, like Sotheby's or Christie's, or by a quality regional auctioneer.
If the collection is not sold, sometimes one of the parties will buy out the other. Or it will be used in a negotiation. For instance, we have had a party trade away her interest in a gun collection for one of the party's vacation homes (they had several). We have had a party relinquish all claims to alimony for a valuable car collection. Another client wanted the art collection so badly that he traded it for custody of his three children.
In short, there are many ways to handle a potentially large financial asset like a valuable collection.
When you need answers to your divorce and family law questions, call us at 678-215-4106.
We've worked as a Magistrate Judge, Assistant Attorney General and Senior Assistant County Attorney, and that truly helps our clients.
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