Divorce Battle With $25 Million in Art at Stake Turns Focus to Shoe Collection
A socialite's shoes could determine who has the rights to the Amon art collection.
The contentious divorce proceedings between art collector Maurice Alain Amon and his wife, Tracey Hejailan-Amon, were the subject of a hearing at New York Civil Supreme Court on Thursday, although only the couple’s lawyers were present.
After the official divorce papers were filed this fall in Monaco, Hejailan-Amon filed a lawsuit in New York, accusing her husband of secreting 20 artworks worth $25 million from their Fifth Avenue home before asking for the divorce. The couple did not sign a prenuptial agreement.
Judge Robert Reed granted Hejailan-Amon a temporary restraining order on the couple’s art collection, scattered across the globe at residences in London, Paris, Gstaad, and Monaco, to prevent the sale of Jean-Michel Basquiat‘s Saxaphone (1986) at Christie’s November 10 postwar and contemporary art evening sale.
Vanity Fair reports that Reed has since thought better of the order, telling the court on Thursday that he was “embarrassed” and had been “bamboozled” by Hejailan-Amon. Now only the artworks in New York remain frozen.
Under Monaco law, Amon would retain sole rights to the art collection (which he claims belongs to his company, not to the couple), as the country does not recognize shared marital property. But if the Amons never really lived in Monaco, as Hejailan-Amon contends, the proceedings should take place elsewhere. Vanity Fair recounts the arguments from both sides:
“One need only look at the number of pairs of shoes in her closet to conclude she lives there [in Monaco],” [Amon’s lawyer, Peter] Bronstein wrote in a filing. He also filed evidence of the couple’s membership to the Yacht Club de Monaco, the Cercle club in Monte Carlo, and an invitation to celebrate someone named Tracey as further proof of their settled life in the tiny European city-state.
[Hejailan’s attorney, Aaron Richard] Golub contested this claim in court Thursday, saying he believes his client only spent one weekend in Monaco since the couple finished renovation in their waterfront apartment this spring, for the “car race.” He said she will vigorously fight that the case not play out in Monaco, and that it would “likely” take place in England or Switzerland, where matrimonial laws more closely resemble those in New York.
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