Unfortunately, divorce can lead to the liquidation of a couple’s most beloved (and expensive) assets. These situations are often difficult for everyone involved, but sometimes there just is not any other option. Liquidating assets becomes even more likely when the assets in question have no real utility, and so co-ownership would not really provide any notable benefits. A prime example of this is an art collection. Unlike real estate property, you cannot use art to generate rent, and you cannot use it to create shelter (unless you get really creative). Because of this, the auction of Harry Macklowe’s art collection amidst his divorce probably should not come as a huge surprise. On the other hand, the price tags on some of these pieces definitely raised a few eyebrows. 

Art Collection Fetches Over $922 million to Pay for Divorce Settlement

Harry Macklowe is a successful real estate developer in New York, and he amassed quite a fortune over the years. How extensive was his fortune? Well, it was enough for him to splurge on quite a few notable art pieces over the course of his marriage – and these pieces managed to rake in $922 million in an auction. 

Although it was probably difficult to let some of these pieces go, the auction itself could only be described as a success, with every item sold during the “white glove sale.” The auction also raked in more cash than any other in history, surpassing the Peggy and David Rockefeller Collection, which brought in just over $835 million in 2018. A single piece by Mark Rothko sold for $82.5 million, while another piece by Jackson Pollock sold for $61 million. 

Harry and Linda Were Together From the Very Beginning 

Harry and Linda married in their twenties during the late 50s, and since then, the pair have accumulated a staggering fortune together. Not only did they collect close to a billion dollars in art, they also picked up a number of expensive properties (including a single apartment worth $72 million), yachts, and much more. So, why did they make the decision to sell their artwork? As it turns out, it was not their choice. They were ordered to sell 65 pieces by a New York State Supreme Court judge. The assumption is that neither spouse could agree on what they should do with the art, so the judge simply ordered them to sell them and split the proceeds. This is a common outcome when it comes to property division disputes. 

The Art World is Celebrating

A divorce is never easy – and neither is being forced to sell a priceless art collection. However, there is at least one silver lining to this entire incident, as the art world is calling this a “historic moment.” According to many experts, this is perhaps the greatest collection ever to hit the market – and it is not just about quantity, either. Some of these pieces are truly museum quality… but it remains to be seen whether they actually end up in museums, or whether they will be locked away in the residences of the elite. That is, until the next time a high-net-worth couple gets divorced, of course.