Florida artists who are getting a divorce face the complicated question of how to divide artwork that they have created during the marriage. According to the Huffington Post, the courts have ruled that artwork can be considered community or marital property. This means that artwork created by a professional artist is subject to the rules of division that govern marital property, which include inventorying assets, valuating them, and eventually dividing them between the spouses.
When an artist begins a divorce, the first thing that should happen is an inventory of all the art created before and during the marriage. If the artwork was made before the couple tied the knot, the art is considered separate property and the non-artist spouse has no rights to it. The next step is to document the sales and prices of art that has been sold, and to list the art that has not been sold. From there, the unsold art needs to be valued.
Generally, professional appraisers will be brought in to examine the artwork and assign value to it, although gallery owners can also conduct the valuation if needed. Sometimes divorcing spouses will be fine with a single appraiser, but both spouses still retain the right to choose an expert they are individually comfortable with. In the event an artwork price is disputed, it may up to the attorneys involved in the case or a judge to negotiate the final value.
Assigning value can be complicated if it involves non-exhibited artwork or artwork that is not finished. A work of art that has never been sold will contain speculative value, with the ultimate value unknown until the art is finished. Some spouses will sign agreements to receive a certain percentage from the art in the future. Other spouses, however, might decide to trade off their profit rights if they have some debt related to the production of the art and want their debt cancelled.
Artists who still want to hold on to certain rights may try to negotiate for them. An established artist may have more leeway if that artist has other assets that can be used to negotiate for artwork rights or for the pieces of art that they wish to keep. Even artists who are not as wealthy may still try to bargain away assets like a vehicle, a boat or real estate to try to hold on to art that they believe will benefit them in the future.
This article is written to inform readers on high asset divorce and is not to be taken as legal advice.