High asset divorces in Massachusetts are often much more complex and drawn out than those involving minimal to no assets. This is because high asset divorces usually involve hard-to-value items. One such type of item is artwork. If you and your spouse have amassed a sizeable art collection over the years, or even if you have one or two pieces of value, you should obtain a professional appraisal. Doing so can ensure you walk away from your divorce with as fair of a settlement as possible.

EY explains the art of valuing artwork. According to the paper, The Science Behind Valuing Art, it is difficult to value art because it is highly subjective in nature. Art largely derives its value from the impact it has on a buyer, who is driven just as much by emotional considerations as financial ones. That said, to help in cases in which a monetary value is necessary, such as in a high asset divorce, an appraiser will look to non-subjective factors, such as the artistic value, the social/cultural value and the commercial value.

The artistic value is a standalone value inherent in the artwork and includes its quality and significance. An appraiser might determine the social value by the level of influence the artwork has over a group of people. The commercial value lies in the intrinsic attributes of the piece. Combined, these three values make up the piece’s overall economic value.

When assessing value, the appraiser will look to several factors. Those factors include the artist’s influence, physical attributes, quality, demand and supply, documentation, exposure and overall condition.

This article should not be used as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.