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Art collection valued at $102 million at center of divorce

Few couples in Ohio have experienced a marital split in which only one category of assets is valued at more than $100 million. However, that is what happened when a retired Microsoft executive and his wife went separate ways. But what was the category of assets that was valued at more than $100 million? Artwork.

According to the divorce records, this High Asset divorce included art, a 1911 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, nearly a dozen Volvos, baseball memorabilia and almost 2,000 Victorian posey holders. The Rolls-Royce was valued at $1.4 million and the baseball memorabilia at $7.4 million. The collection of posey holders -- small vases that women once wore -- is reportedly worth $5.5 million.

The Rolls-Royce went to the husband as did the baseball memorabilia. The 11 Volvos and the posey holder collection went to the wife.

While these expensive assets were easily divided, the couple's 47-piece art collection proved difficult. The judge wanted to do his best to make sure that each party received roughly half of that value. Selling the collection was considered, but experts were worried that taxes would cut heavily into the value of the artwork, and a sudden flooding of pieces may devalue the collections of others.

The couple could not agree upon who would get which pieces, some of them having been painted by Thomas Moran, William Merritt Chase, Claude Monet and John Singer Sargent. The judge was then tasked with separating the collection but asked that each party submit a proposal of their desires.

The wife received 19 paintings while the husband received 24 paintings. She managed to acquire the two paintings that she wanted most, as well as the one that she wanted least. The husband also received enough artwork to decorate one of his massive homes.

Source: Seattle Times, "The art of divorce: She gets the Monet, he gets the Renoir," Ken Armstrong, July 31, 2012

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