Christopher Larson was an early Microsoft employee. Now he’s a very wealthy man who is getting divorced and trying to come to an equitable arrangement with his former wife. But dividing an collection isn’t only about who likes which works or how much the appraisers value each work at. There are other considerations like loans and wall space. (Click through to the Seattle Times to read the wall space aspect of this story.)
To be divided were 47 pieces, including 43 paintings. The paintings run deep on 19th-century American art, featuring the likes of William Merritt Chase, Thomas Moran, Frederic Church and Sanford Robinson Gifford. […] When the parties attempted to divvy up the art on their own, the chief obstacle — the “elephant in the ballroom,” as it was called in court records — was a painting by Jasper Francis Cropsey, an American 19th-century landscape artist.
She didn’t want it. He wanted it, but it was hanging in a house in London that she’d be getting in the divorce. And England, which apparently has a thing for Cropsey, wasn’t going to let the painting leave its shores without a struggle, insisting upon an export license.
The painting, “Richmond Hill in the Summer of 1862,” is a landscape of the River Thames and its surrounding countryside. To England, it has historical value. To appraisers, it’s worth $8.5 million. […] Larson’s objectives were more businesslike.
He said he wanted his collection to be “well-balanced and diversified.”
He said he needed artwork to secure a line of credit with JPMorgan Chase — and that the bank would count, as collateral, only those paintings worth $750,000 or more. […]
Calhoun got the two pieces she wanted most (a Monet and a Sargent), as well as the piece she wanted least (the Cropsey). She got the piece that reminded her of Wenatchee. […]
After the judge’s order was issued, Larson and Calhoun, on their own, elected to do some trading. So some pieces awarded to Calhoun now belong to Larson, and vice versa. Great art endures, but ownership rarely does.
The art of divorce: She gets the Monet, he gets the Renoir (Seattle Times)