When retired Microsoft executive and minority Seattle Mariners owner Christopher Larson and Julia Calhoun got divorced this year, some things were easy to divide up.
Larson got to keep the 1911 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost (valued at $1.4 million) and Calhoun received 11 Volvos. He kept his baseball memorabilia ($7.4 million) and she got a collection of Victorian posey holders ($5.5 million).
What proved difficult to divide was the couple’s $102 million art collection, which consisted of works by, among others, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, John Singer Sargent, Albert Bierstadt, Claude Monet, William Merritt Chase, Thomas Moran, Frederic Church, Sanford Robinson Gifford, and Jasper Francis Cropsey.
After two unsuccessful attempts to divide their 47 piece collection (43 of which were paintings), the couple asked a King County Superior Court judge to handle the daunting task.
When Judge William Downing asked the parties to write down their preferences, Calhoun wrote a 7 page report expressing her emotional reaction to each piece that she wanted while Larson took a more practical approach, asking for a “well-balanced and diversified” collection. Larson also said that he had “lots of wall space to cover” in his home and did not want a “collection consisting of very few expensive paintings.”
In the end, Larson got to keep 24 paintings (valued at $1,942 per square inch) and Calhoun received 19 paintings ($3,082 per square inch). After the court issued its order, the couple elected to do some trading.
Source: Seattle Times, “The art of divorce: She gets the Monet, he gets the Renoir,” Ken Armstrong, July 28, 2012