Robert Soros in Divorce Battle Over $7.7 Million Christopher Wool Painting

The painting's title is the best part.

Melissa Schiff Soros and Robert Soros attend the Center for Reproductive Rights 2013 Gala. Courtesy of Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for The Center for Reproductive Rights.

A divorce battle between Robert and Melissa Soros has turned ugly, and one of the major points of contention is who gets to keep the couple’s pricey Christopher Wool painting, an untitled work bearing the word “FOOL” in capital letters.

The New York Post reports that the disputed painting has risen in value by $7 million since it was purchased for $420,000 in 1999, but its potential price tag in 2016 could be much higher. The Post is going off the 2012 sale of a nearly identical “Fool” painting, which became the most expensive Wool ever to sell at auction at the time when it fetched $7.7 million at Christie’s London.

According to the artnet Price Database, however, that record has since been surpassed by the 2014 sale of another untitled “Fool” work, which fetched $14.16 million at Christie’s New York.

Christopher Wool, <em>Untitled</em> (1990). Courtesy of Christie's.

Christopher Wool, Untitled (1990). Courtesy of Christie’s.

Wool’s current auction record is a massive $29.9 million, set by Untitled (Riot) at Sotheby’s New York in 2015. Like the “Fool” canvas, it was painted in 1990 and measures 108 inches tall by 72 inches wide, and features a four-letter word printed in two lines with black stenciled block letters on a stark white background. It would stand to reason that the former couple’s disputed painting could achieve similar results at auction in the future.

Robert Soros claims that the Wool painting, along with three other works purchased at the same sale, was bought with his personal funds. For her part, Melissa points to documents showing the pieces were bought in her name, and do not list her soon-to-be ex as an owner.

Robert and Melissa Soros in 2010. Courtesy of Jimi Celeste, © Patrick McMullan.

Robert and Melissa Soros in 2010. Courtesy of Jimi Celeste, © Patrick McMullan.

The two testified at Manhattan Supreme Court on September 23 in front special referee Phyllis Sambuco. According to the Post, she found their differing accounts “very interesting” and will hold another hearing before issuing a decision.

The Soroses have been locked in a $350 million dispute since May 2014, when Robert filed for divorce after 22 years of marriage. He is the son of billionaire George Soros and Annaliese Witschak, and manages his father’s company, Soros Fund Management.

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