appeals from the order of the Supreme Court, New York County
(Ellen Gesmer, J.), entered October 19, 2015, which, to the
extent appealed from as limited by the briefs, declared that
art purchased in either party's sole name during the
marriage, regardless of vendor, is that party's separate
property pursuant to the terms of the prenuptial agreement,
and from the order of the same court (Deborah A. Kaplan, J.),
entered March 15, 2016, which, to the extent appealed from as
limited by the briefs, upon reargument, modified the October
19, 2015 order only to the extent of ordering discovery and a
hearing to determine ownership of works of art, including
four specified works of art, purchased during the marriage
for which the purchase invoice is on its face ambiguous or
Clair Lans Greifer Thorpe & Rottenstreich LLP, New York
(Bernard E. Clair Jad Greifer and Benjamin A. Lilien of
counsel), for appellant.
Wolff & Foley LLP, New York (Alan Feighenbaum, Eleanor B.
Alter and Adam John Wolff of counsel), for respondent.
Rolando T. Acosta, J.P., Angela M. Mazzarelli, Sallie
Manzanet-Daniels, Troy K. Webber, JJ.
appeal we are called upon to rule on the appropriate method
of determining ownership of valuable works of art in the
parties' art collection.
parties were married on May 5, 1992. Plaintiff husband
commenced the instant matrimonial action on May 6, 2014,
claiming separate ownership of tens of millions of
dollars' worth of art, while defendant wife claims the
art was jointly owned. The wife also claims to separately own
four specified works of art purportedly worth a total of
approximately $22 million.
parties executed a prenuptial agreement on April 21, 1992.
The prenuptial agreement does not specifically address how
the parties should divide their art collection upon
dissolution of the marriage. It provides that any property
owned on the date of execution of the prenuptial agreement,
April 21, 1992, or "hereafter... acquired" by one
party remains that party's separate property. It provides
that "[n]o contribution of either party to the care,
maintenance, improvement, custody or repair of... [the
other's party]... shall in any way alter or convert any
of such property... to marital property."
prenuptial agreement further provides that "any property
acquired after the date of the marriage that is jointly held
in the names of both parties" shall, upon dissolution of
the marriage - which occurred on March 25, 2014 - be divided
equally between the parties. Under the heading, Non-Marital
Property, the agreement provides:
property hereafter acquired by the parties or by either of
them... shall constitute marital property... unless (a)
pursuant to a subscribed and acknowledged written agreement,
the parties expressly designate said property as marital
property... or (b) title to said property is jointly held in
the names of both parties."
the marriage, the parties agreed to acquire certain art as a
joint collection, including pieces acquired through Art
Advisory Services, Luhring Augustine, and The Kitchen. The
wife claims that all art acquired through those vendors was
jointly held. The husband claims that there was no blanket
agreement that all pieces from those vendors would be
considered marital property. Rather, he states that he relied
on the prenuptial agreement and purchased certain works
solely in his name when he wanted them to remain his separate
husband moved, inter alia, for a declaratory judgment that,
"consistent with the Prenuptial Agreement, the title to
the art purchased during the marriage determines whether it
is marital or separate property, regardless of the source of
funds used to acquire it or the alleged intent behind the
purchase." He argued that title should be determined
based solely on the invoice or bill of sale.
motion court construed the prenuptial agreement to provide
that any art purchased solely in one party's name
remained that party's separate property (see Van
Kipnis v Van Kipnis, 11 N.Y.3d 573, 577 ;
Strong v Dubin, 75 A.D.3d 66, 68-69 [1st Dept 2010])
and relied on the invoices as proof of whether the art was
jointly or individually held. We conclude, to the contrary,
that invoices, standing alone, may not be regarded as
evidence of title or ownership of the art.
invoice is defined as "[a] list of goods sent or
services provided, with a statement of the sum due for
these" (Oxford Living Dictionaries