When divorcing, don’t overlook high-value collectibles

If you and your spouse are divorcing, other than the custody of any children, the division of your property is likely the biggest issue you will face. Typically, the family home and any vacation homes or rental properties, along with the retirement accounts, are the largest assets to divide.

But along with those big-ticket assets, don’t forget some smaller, but also valuable, marital property like collectibles of any type. Often, these collections are undervalued or even not considered simply because one spouse has neither an interest in them nor knowledge of their true worth. But you could be leaving a lot of money on the settlement table by not determining the value of collectibles.

Where do you start?

Maybe your spouse collects rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia. You (and perhaps they) likely have no real idea of the true value of that KISS pinball machine or Keith Moon drumstick. But before you can start to argue over who gets what in your divorce settlement, you first need an accurate valuation of the property to be divided.

There are different types of value

With collectibles, the value can vary widely. For instance, below are several different types of valuation rubrics:

  • Wholesale – This is what a dealer would pay to purchase the pinball machine, drumstick, etc. It will be on the lower end of the spectrum.
  • Retail – This is the price one would expect to pay for the same item in a collectibles market or antique shop. Generally, this price is from 33% to 50% more than the wholesale value.
  • Fair market – This is what both the seller and buyer agree upon as the asking price. With collectibles, this can sometimes be a lot if it the last piece needed to fill a collection, for instance.
  • Insurance – If your house burned down or was destroyed by a tornado, this is what your insurance carrier would pay you for its worth.
  • Auction – Often referred to as the open market price, this is what it would presumably sell for at auction.

If all this has your head spinning, that’s understandable. It is well worth the money to retain a professional to valuate collectibles when dividing property in your divorce.


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