You would probably have a difficult time finding artists who really see their creations as property. Most will think of them simply as theirs. When two artists marry and then divorce, what is considered marital property? Does each artist simply walk away with all the pieces he or she has created?
In most cases, the court will determine what is marital property and what is separate property. The marital property will be anything that was created between the date of the wedding and the day of separation. Art created before the couple married, after they separated or that was paid for before the wedding is considered separate property.
Each artist-spouse will need to take a detailed inventory of their completed and uncompleted pieces, pieces that have sold and for what price and commissions for pieces that have been paid but not created yet.
As for valuing the art, it is often best to get an appraiser to do so — one that is not biased and that both spouses agree on. If that’s not possible, each spouse can hire their own appraiser and the final estimates on the art’s value can be hammered out between divorce attorneys or in front of a judge. Some artists may value their own pieces, using past sales as a price point for future sales.
New York is an equitable distribution state, which means that the property will be divided fairly, but that doesn’t always mean a 50/50 split. At some point, the two artists will need to come to some agreement — or let the court decide — that is acceptable. Both parties will want to get back into their art career and with as little delay as possible.
Divorce is not easy, but when art is involved and the value of it is subjective, it’s important to have the advice and guidance of an experienced lawyer.
Source: Huffington Post, “Artwork Gets Thrown into the Mix When Artists Divorce,” Daniel Grant, accessed Nov. 13, 2016