“The Macklowe split has it all – octogenarians fighting for 5 years in the most acrimonious of proceedings. Enter stage left, real estate mogul Harry Macklowe, allegedly erecting a 42+ foot billboard of himself and his new wife on a Park Avenue building where the parties had owned apartments, dubbed the ‘Height of Spite’” tells senior associate, Ella Welsby.
The split has since given way to two monumental auctions at Sotheby’s - the first held in November 2021, the second, most recently, in May 2022 – as the pair sought to sell off the trove of artwork they had amassed throughout their almost six-decade marriage. The auctions were certainly not anticlimactic either, with bidders breaking estimation barriers and raising an eye-watering combined total of almost $1 billion dollars, setting the record for the most valuable art collection ever to be sold at auction.
“The Macklowe divorce-driven auction is not the first of its kind, though - art is an increasingly important asset class, with NFT art beginning to feature in cases too. That said -it’s highly unusual for a collection to be worth more than the couple’s high-octane property portfolio – Russell Crowe’s divorce auction in 2018 netted a comparably modest $3.7m (comprising, as well as Australian art, movie memorabilia and more) – but this is credit to the couple’s eye” says Ella.
The Macklowe marriage found its bitter end in revelations of Harry Macklowe’s affair with Patricia Landeau. Their acrimonious divorce proceedings are therefore unsurprising, and some might call Linda Macklowe’s decision to decline a $1 billion dollar settlement (half of their $2 billion dollar fortune) unsurprising to this extent, too.
Surely, some may believe, the cheated should get more than the cheater? From a UK perspective, this kind of reasoning certainly doesn’t apply, however. Personal conduct, unless in severe and exceptional circumstances, has no impact on the divorce settlement.
Wherever one’s moral reasoning lies – there is one thing we can all agree on: Linda Macklowe, no doubt, will be walking away with a handsome sum after a successful auction of the pair’s beloved trove of pieces. And Sotheby’s, no doubt, will handsomely benefit too.