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Marital Property Division

How Do I Put a Value on My Favorite Work of Art?

Many couples in the Los Angeles area who are of means may have property beyond the residence and its furnishing, a couple of cars and a few savings accounts. This blog has, in fact, discussed things like offshore accounts and family businesses, as these and other complex assets often present special issues when it comes to dividing marital property in the event of a California divorce or legal separation.

For instance, many people who have some extra money to spare like to purchase artwork. Whether this is an investment or just a hobby, works of art often have enough value to garner the attention of the spouses, and the courts, when there is a split.

Valuing a piece of art is one of those things that take some special skill and guesswork in part because it is both subjective and unique to the work of art itself. For example, there is no standard source that one can go and look up to see how much a painting with certain characteristics should be sold for, as one might be able to do for a car or even a house.

Short of just selling the work of art to a neutral third party, the best way to put a value on a piece of art is to get the help of an expert in the field who can appraise it. Doing so is still a matter of making an educated guess, but an appraiser should be able to compare the art to what is available or has been available on the market and consider other important factors.

Selecting the right appraiser, and knowing what to ask and in what manner, is an important step when trying to argue that piece of art is worth a certain value. A family law attorney who has experience helping high net worth individuals value their assets can be helpful in this respect.