Russell Crowe sold dozens of items this past weekend at a Sotheby’s auction to help him fund his divorce from ex-wife Danielle Spencer. The auction appears to have worked better than expected.
The Art of Divorce
Crowe titled the event “The Art of Divorce,” the divorce auction took place in Sydney on his 54th birthday and featured more than 200 items, including movie memorabilia, antique treasures, artwork and a collection of instruments.
A replica Roman chariot from the same movie in which Crowe played the general-turned-gladiator Maximus, thought to be worth up to AU$10,000, was sold for AU$65,000.
Sotheby’s had estimated the sale would bring in up to AU$3.7m (more than $2.8 million in U.S. dollars), but many items sold for more than their original pricing.
Florida Property Division
In Florida, courts distribute marital assets and liabilities between the parties with the premise that the distribution should be equal unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution. Although it may seem like it, equitable distribution is not an auction.
I’ve written about various aspects of property division before, including Russell Crowe’s proposed auction when it was first announced.
Marital assets are properties acquired and debts incurred during the marriage, individually by either spouse or jointly by them.
Marital assets and liabilities also include the enhancement in value and appreciation of non-marital assets resulting either from the efforts of either party during the marriage.
Dissipation and Waste
One of the relevant factors courts look to in property division is whether one of the parties intentionally dissipated, wasted, depleted, or destroyed any of the marital assets after the filing of the petition.
Spouses can dissipate assets by giving away money irresponsibly, spending money on girlfriends, gambling losses, and drug usage. Some people would rather lose the money outright than split it with their spouses.
If the dissipation of an asset resulted from misconduct, the question is whether a spouse used marital funds for his own benefit unrelated to the marriage at a time when the marriage was undergoing an irreconcilable breakdown.
Misconduct is not mismanagement or even a simple squandering of marital assets in a manner of which the other spouse disapproves. There is no report that the Crowe auction was a waste of assets.
Instead, there has to be evidence of the spending spouse’s intentional dissipation or destruction of the asset. Where marital misconduct results in a depletion or dissipation of marital assets, it can serve as a basis for unequal division.
Alternatively, courts can look at the misconduct, and can assign to the spending spouse as part of their equitable distribution, the misconduct losses.
Battle for the Jockstrap?
Among the most popular items at the auction was the breastplate he wore in “Gladiator” when his character Maximus (spoiler alert) bites the dust. The piece sold for $125,000 while matching leather wrist cuffs scored $32,000.
Crowe also sold items from movies like “Master and Commander,” “The Silver Brumby” and “Proof,” though the Royal Navy dress blues from “Master” proved extremely popular, bringing in a $115,000 haul.
One of the more curious items was the leather jockstrap Crowe wore in the 2005 film “Cinderella Man.” The protective piece went for $7,000 to one lucky bidder.
“I put it in the collection as a piece of whimsy and a bit of a gag. Funny enough, it’s garnered a lot of attention,”.
He and Spencer wed in 2003, and news broke of their split in 2012. The divorce is just about finalized, and the ex-couple share two children.
The auction raised money for the A.C.M.F. charity, which provides free music education and instruments to disadvantaged and indigenous children and youth at risk in Sydney.
The New York Times article is here.