Socialite Accuses Husband of Hiding $25 Million Art Collection Before Filing for Divorce

A Basquiat from the collection is to be auctioned tonight.

A New York socialite accused her husband of stashing away over $25 million worth of art from the couple’s $16 million Fifth Avenue apartment before serving her divorce papers.

Tracey Hejailan-Amon filed a lawsuit on Monday in New York Supreme Court against her husband, Swiss entrepreneur Maurice Alain Amon, accusing him of secretly removing the art collection while she was traveling in Europe. Art world divorces, as is often the case with break-ups, can be fraught: Matthew Barney and Björk‘ dealt with a custody battle over daughter Isadora, and billionaires Elaine and Stephen Wynn had to carefully divide their collection when they split in 2010.

Hejailan-Amon is especially concerned that one of the works in the couple’s collection, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Saxaphone (1986), is due to go under the hammer at Christie’s postwar and contemporary art sale tonight, where it carries an estimate of $4 million–6 million.

Jean-Michel Basquiat Saxaphone (1986) Photo: Christie's

Jean-Michel Basquiat Saxaphone (1986)
Photo: Christie’s

The blue-chip collection—which was reportedly moved to a Queens warehouse—also includes Andy Warhol’s Self Portrait (1966), several other Basquiat paintings, as well as works by Jean Arp, Damien Hirst, Cy Twombly, and others.

“She was in Europe and she didn’t even know what was going on. She thought she was happily married,” Hejailan-Amon’s attorney, Aaron Richard Golub, told the New York Post.

The couple tied the knot in 2008 without a pre-nuptial agreement, and led a jet-set lifestyle in various cities including Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris, and the exclusive Swiss ski-resort Gstaad.

Now, Hejailan-Amon says she wants at least a 50/50 split, arguing the art collection was shared marital property. Perhaps that’s why Amon filed for divorce in Monaco, where there’s no legal concept of shared marital property.

The couple were avid art collectors, pictured here at the FIAC art fair in 2013. Photo: Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images via New York Post

The couple were avid art collectors, pictured here at the FIAC art fair in 2013.
Photo: Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images via New York Post

“It’s unlawful and outrageous and we’ll see them in court,” Golub is quoted as saying in the New York Daily News, adding that the divorce shouldn’t be carried out in Monaco because the couple never lived there.

Amon made his fortune founding a security firm selling ink used in several global currencies. A lawyer for Amon Ltd. told the New York Post that the corporation is the legal owner of the artworks, and the collection therefore isn’t considered shared marital property.

“Ms. Hejailan-Amon was fully aware of the artwork removal plans and her claims are without substance,” the attorney Peter Bronstein added.

Hejailan-Amon is also seeking an injunction to stop Christie’s from selling the Basquiat. However, she’s running out of time: the artwork could have a new owner by the end of the day.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics