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Michigan Family Law Blog

Friday, May 18, 2018

Why Did Russell Crowe Sell his Memorabilia Collection? A Divorce Attorney's Perspective

Russell Crowe's recent divorce has gained a lot of attention from the media, particularly because of the auction of his apparently vast collection of interesting movie memorabilia.  The memorabilia included the "jock strap" that Mr. Crowe wore in the movie Cinderella Man on the outside of his boxing gear.  Comedian John Oliver ended up purchasing this odd bit of history for eight thousand ($8,000) dollars, then donated the item to a Blockbuster Video in Alaska.  The Crowe family responded in a public announcement that they were donating the proceeds from the shots to help Koala's with Chlamydia and opened the John Oliver Koala Chlamydia Center.

In all seriousness though, this auction begs the question of why Mr. Crowe would sell all of his memorabilia in this divorce?  Was he broke despite his very successful career?  I don't think so.  As a divorce lawyer, I believe I know why he would do this.  In a divorce case, all property owned by either party to the marriage is divided in a relatively equal way. Certain property, like the memorabilia, can be hard to value and it may be appraised or valued at a price higher than either party really wants to pay for it. That may have been what happened in this case. 

First, there is a whole lot of odd and hard to appraise property that actually may have some value so the cost alone of appraising all of the pieces could be astronomical.  In addition, one would assume that Mr. Crowe picked up all this stuff at little or no cost due to the nature of the property (mostly from movies in which he was an actor or things he got from famous friends and co-workers).  So, one could see first why neither spouse would want to pay thousands of dollars to appraise this stuff when neither of them may really want to pay the other party for it.  Further one can see  why neither one really wants to pay the other for the fair market value of this stuff Mr. Crowe got for free and that really does not have the same monetary value to them that it would to a collector.  That is why it makes very good sense to auction off all of the items for cash: no appraisals are necessary as the market determines the value, both parties get cash and any items that don't sell the parties can easily divide or donate to charity (as they did with John Oliver's money).

Unfortunately, this type of issue can happen in every day divorce cases that don't involve celebrities and movie star memorabilia that can be easily auctioned.  If one party owns a business, the business may appraise for either more than the owner spouse can pay the other spouse for it or more than she or he wants to pay.  In this case, the parties will attempt to sell the business and split the proceeds, but if they are not able to sell the business, then unfortunately, the business may simply folds and go under.  The best way to avoid this type of issue is to get a prenuptial agreement which spells out each party's rights to property and how that property should be handled in the event of death, separation or divorce.  If you have any questions regarding divorce or prenuptial agreements, please do not hesitate to contact Cameron C. Goulding Family Law & Mediation, PLC.


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