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Husband Files for Divorce After Taking $25M Worth of Art

By DivorceMagazine.com

husband files for divorce

Tracey Hejailan-Amon, a Manhattan socialite, filed a lawsuit against her husband, millionaire Swiss entrepreneur Maurice Alain Amon, after claiming he hid anart collection valued at $25 million before filing for divorce.

Hejailan-Amon, who was in Europe when Amon filed for divorce, stated that she collected the artwork – between 17 and 20 pieces – during the couple’s marriage. The collection included pieces by Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst, and other artists.

In her lawsuit, which was filed on Monday, she described her husband’s removal of the artwork from their $16 million Manhattan apartment as “illegal and unlawful,” claiming the artwork is marital property. Hejailan-Amon’s lawsuit states the couple did not sign a prenuptial agreement.

According to attorney Sarah B. Hechtman – who practices practices matrimonial and family law at Jones Morrison, LLP in Westchester NY – Amon did not have the right to take the artwork or attempt to sell it. “In New York, the law provides that neither spouse may transfer or sell or otherwise disturb any assets pending resolution of the matrimonial case,” she explained. “During the litigation (or settlement negotiations) of the matter, it will need to be determined what is marital property and thus subject to equitable distribution, and what is separate property.”

Peter Bronstein, a lawyer for Amon’s private company, has claimed that his client has full ownership of the artwork and that it is not marital property, adding that Hejailan-Amon was aware of Amon’s plan to remove the art from their apartment.

“If the art was purchased with marital or joint assets, then the court would find (or the parties would agree) that it is marital property and would divide it between the parties ‘equitably’ or fairly,” said Hechtman.

According to Hejailan-Amon, Amon had the artwork taken to a Queen’s store facility in October before filing for divorce in Monaco – where there’s no legal concept of shared property. In the lawsuit, she stated her husband had already put one painting up for auction. Amon claims to have residency in Monaco; however, Hejailan-Amon says the couple never lived in the country.

Hejailan-Amon, 47, and Amon, 64, married in Hong Kong in 2008. Since then, they have lived in various cities around the world. According to her lawyer, Aaron Richard Golub, Hejailan-Amon was not aware Amon was planning a divorce. “She was in Europe and she didn’t even know what was going on. She thought she was happily married,” Golub told the New York Post.

This isn’t Amon’s first conflict over marital property. Amon, who owns a security company, was previously married to Roberta Amon – whom he divorced in 2005. His ex-wife sued him for her share of marital money, according to New York Daily News.

When a Prenup is in Order

Should I get a prenup in new york state?

 

Prenuptial Agreement: An agreement made by a couple before marriage, usually concerning the ownership of assets should the marriage fail.

 

The Numbers

2009 marked a 40-year low for divorce rates in the United States, a symptom of the economic recession. Since then, rates have increased yearly, highlighting causality between financial stability and the ability to leave the relative security of an unhappy marriage. (source)

Over the past 5 years, 73% of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) reported that requests for prenuptial agreements have increased.  (source)

The Conversation

Having the conversation about a prenup is the first step to understanding if your marriage is financially compatible. Many people’s first reaction to having a prenup brought into conversation is that their spouse has no faith in the marriage. The ability to have a practical discussion about future financial security is one indicator of a compatible partnership. This is the ideal time to create plans and goals for future and calculating the path to get there.

I’m Not Wealthy

Prenups are not only to cover existing assets, but also future accumulated wealth. The agreement can cover any number of complications including one spouse being a business owner, one spouse agreeing to stay home to raise children, children from a previous marriage, real estate, and more.

Reasons to Sign

1. Children from a prior marriage – An individual entering a second marriage will often have major financial pre-existing commitments to children and possibly a former spouse.

2. People are marrying late in life after accumulation of assets – With fewer years to work, it is advisable to secure one’s assets against the possibility of a failed marriage and potential financial loss.

3. Did you know? In New York all assets are presumed to be marital and therefore presumed to be divisible in a divorce. In a prenup one can eliminate these presumptions, creating a contract that typically states that certain property shall remain one’s property. The burden of proving that property is separate (in NY property owned prior to the marriage) is eliminated, bringing greater certainty and eliminating potentially costly litigation.

4. Couples can use prenups to affirmatively plan for each other as well.

Who Needs a Prenup?

  • Second marriages
  • Business owners
  • People with assets
  • People with expectation of inheritance
  • Those entering marriage who already have children

Too Late?

No matter how long you’ve been married, a couple can always opt to create a postnuptial agreement. These contracts are usually created to set a household budget, settle financial turmoil in the marriage, or remove a newly acquired asset from any possible divorce proceedings (such as inherited real estate or a business venture.

When it comes to creating an agreement with your future spouse, the earlier you start the discussion, the better. If you are interested in learning more about prenuptial agreements, contact Jones Morrison LLP today at (914) 472-2300.

 
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