Painters, sculptors, writers and other artists often regard their artwork as their sole intellectual property. However, the state of Texas may not agree when an artist begins divorce proceedings. The artwork is considered part of the marital estate and must treated one of the estate’s assets when beginning the division of property. A spouse may elect to retain certain pieces or to demand equitable exchange of another asset based upon the pieces’ value.
An artist’s work has two types of value which must be considered in property division. The first type, fair market value, is determined by how many pieces the artist has sold and how the artist’s reputation and financial fortunes have fared as a result. The second type is speculative, which applies to unsold pieces and is based upon the artist’s reputation and evaluation by an independent art appraiser.
Upon beginning divorce proceedings, an artist may need to begin with a detailed inventory of marital assets, including all artwork produced or sold between the actual start of the marriage and the official separation to help prevent accusations of defrauding the spouse and possible loss of rights to artwork later. The inventory should reflect how many pieces are sold, for what price, the location of unsold pieces and their appraised or speculative market value.
An attorney may be able to help an artist during division of property proceedings. The attorney might solicit advice or appraisals from reputable art dealers or independent appraisers. Once the marital estate has been valued, the attorney may draft a settlement agreement for the other counsel and spouse. If the settlement is accepted by all parties, the attorney might present it to the judge to be entered as the final, governing court order.