Dealing with competing claims on property in a divorce can spark conflicts that drag things out for months or years, and those delays can create headaches for both parties.
So it is for Maurice Amon, a Swiss businessman, and his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Tracey Hejailan-Amon, who are battling in Manhattan Supreme Court over the status of an art collection valued at $25M.
According to filings, while Hejailan-Amon was traveling overseas, Amon relocated a number of pieces of modern art, including paintings by Basquiat and Andy Warhol, from their home in Manhattan to a storage facility in Queens.
He subsequently filed for divorce in Monaco, which doesn’t recognize marital property in divorces, although the couple had never lived there.
Hejailan-Amon subsequently filed for divorce in Manhattan, where a judge ordered the art collection to remain in storage until the parties conclude the action.
More recently, Hejailan-Amon fired her legal team and asked the court for a delay while her new lawyers get up to speed, which means that access to the art – and either party’s ability to sell any of it for an infusion of money – is off limits.
Amon has argued that declines in the art market mean any delays represent a substantial financial harm to him, while Hejailan-Amon argues that she helped build the collection and is entitled to a share of the profits.
Attorneys working on a case like this would have their work cut out for them well before their client filed for divorce.
First, they would have to consider whether a hypothetical husband in a situation like this is making the right call in moving the property to a storage facility prior to filing for divorce?
While every divorce is unique, there is a strong case to be made that when a spouse has concerns that filing may result in loss of property, removing it safely to an off-site location may be wise.
The disputed property will then immediately fall under court order, either through automatic orders or at the request of the other spouse, and can be dealt with as part of the divorce.
Another question that someone in a situation like this would need to consider up front is whether they are liquid enough to get through an expensive divorce without selling some of the property in question.
Whether the husband in this situation is actually in immediate need of the proceeds of a sale or not, the inconvenience of having to shift resources, delay other actions, or otherwise be held back by a court order is real, and may have damaging effects.
Not everyone hangs million dollar paintings on their walls, but most couples have accumulated substantial wealth and assets together after a long marriage. Determining how the physical goods or their monetary value is distributed between the two is a core concern for divorce lawyers representing either side.
Making sure that your spouse isn’t abusing the system with tactics designed to prolong the action, and hurt you financially, is another task that only an experienced attorney can handle.
At Zelenitz, Shapiro & D’Agostino, we are proactive advocates for our clients, starting in the planning phase of your divorce, sometimes long before you file.
We make sure that your most valuable assets are protected, and that your claims to property, custody, and financial resources are thoroughly argued.
If your marriage is ending in Queens, call the experienced Queens divorce team at Zelenitz, Shapiro & D’Agostino today at 718-523-1111 and talk to a lawyer for free.