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Divorce dispute over art collection worth up to $1 billion

Every divorcing couple must go through the process of dividing their marital property. This process is rarely easy for anyone, but it can be especially difficult in cases of high-asset divorce. Often, the biggest issue is ascertaining the value of certain assets, such as ownership stakes in businesses, stock options or investment accounts.

The divorce of billionaire real estate developer Harry Macklowe and wife Linda Macklowe has attracted a lot of attention from the news media, as the two argue over their extensive real estate holdings. But observers say that the trickiest part of their property division process may involve the value of Linda Macklowe's collection of paintings and sculptures. Her collection includes works by esteemed artists such as Pablo Picasso and Mark Rothko. Just one of her Rothko paintings is said to be worth $50 million.

According to media reports, an art expert testified in court about the value of the collection. The expert noted that some pieces, such as an 18-foot-long painting by Cy Twombly, may be difficult to sell, but said the entire collection could be worth as much as $1 billion.

Needless to say, few divorces involve $1 billion art collections. However, every divorce involves property division, and often this means negotiating a way to divide the value of assets and distributing that value between the two parties.

In many cases, the most valuable asset is the family home. Often, the parties will sell the home and divide the proceeds. However, in some cases, one party wants to keep the home. In this type of case, the parties often get a professional appraisal of their home in order to learn its fair market value. If the parties agree on a 50-50 split of the home's value, they will have to find a way to divide the value as part of their settlement without selling the home.

Much of the property division process involves negotiation. It can be important to seek out help from an attorney with experience in the high-stakes negotiations that come with high-asset divorce.

Source: New York Daily News, "Divorcing billionaire Harry Macklowe fights for art collection worth up to $1B," Stephen Rex Brown, Sept. 27, 2017

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