The value of an artist’s creative works in a divorce

On Behalf of | Mar 12, 2015 | Uncategorized

Illinois artists who are divorcing will need to inventory and assess the value of their artwork along with other assets. Work created by an artist during marriage is considered to be joint marital property just like real estate, vehicles and shared accounts. In this case, “art” may include not just works like paintings and sculpture but also film, comics and novels.

However, unlike conventional assets, the value of art may be more difficult to assess. This may be particularly true for those who are early in their careers and whose works may suddenly appreciate in value or may never be worth much. A spouse who does not place as much value on the artist’s work as the artist does may be willing to give up a claim on the art in exchange for other assets.

For more established artists who already have achieved considerable success, there may be a number of creative solutions available. For example, cartoonist Charles Schultz gave his ex-wife 27 percent of the revenue from his “Peanuts” comic strip, but over a period of time it decreased to 15 percent. The ex-wife of entertainer Jerry Lewis accepted a share of royalties from his films but allowed him to retain ownership.

In addition to the complexity of property valuation for artists and their spouses in divorce, there may be other issues as well. For example, in some marriages, one spouse works to support the artist, and this could become an issue in alimony considerations. On the other hand, if an artist has been very successful, they may have supported the spouse, and some sort of creative revenue-sharing arrangement may be appropriate. In many cases, alimony is not a permanent arrangement, but it instead lasts long enough for the recipients to begin supporting themselves.

Source: Huffington Post, “For Artists, Divorce Means Splitting Up the (Art) Assets”, Daniel Grant, March 3, 2015


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