Over the years, I have handled countless high-net-worth, high-conflict divorces. On many occasions, some of the assets to be divided were so unique, that we had to bring in a myriad of expert valuators, antique connoisseurs, and art scholars to establish how much a particular item was truly worth in today’s market.
While a regular, middle-class couple may just hold a yard sale to split their jointly acquired furniture or appliances, for affluent people like my clients, this is not quite the way to go.
New Zealand-born movie star Russell Crowe is one of the rich and famous who have recently resorted to the glitterati’s alternative to a divorce yard sale, namely, an international Sotheby’s auction.
But Crowe is not just a rich man or a Hollywood actor, he has also been a savvy collector of rare film, music, and sports’ memorabilia, antique weapons and vehicles, art, and limited edition guitars.
Fans of Johnny Cash will find several items of interest at the auction to be held in Sidney on April 7, including a Grammy once awarded to the beloved crooner. But if you are looking for an ancient cannon or a dinoasur skull, you may be in luck too.
Crowe claims he and ex-wife Danielle Spencer are on good terms, but one cannot help but wonder what it feels like to part with such a carefully ammassed collection, so full of personal memories. For example, when it comes to Roman replica gear from the movie Gladiator, or memorabilia from another of Crowe’s idols, Elvis Presley.
“We’ve been separated over five years now, our divorce should be finalized around the time of the auction. Just as we collaborate on the upbringing of our kids, it’s easy for us to work together on something like this. I think she feels the same way I do in regards to just moving on things that help create space for the future... on the practical side, this collection probably equates to three rooms full of things I’ll no longer have to care for, document, clean, tune, and insure,” Crowe has commented.
“The Art of Divorce,” such is the name of the auction, will include 227 lots, and while I may well be mediating a high-conflict celebrity divorce, or helping a couple decide whether the kids get to ski in St. Moritz next year, when the event takes place, below is a list of the items I have my eye on, in case there’s a bargain on a few special wants:
VIOLIN BY LEANDRO BISIACH SNR (1864-1946)
USED BY RUSSELL CROWE IN THE FILM, MASTER AND COMMANDER (2003), MILAN, DATED 1890
ESTIMATE $110,000 - $140,000
If you want a near-magical musical instrument in your collection, the Bisiach violin is the way to go. Bisiach was one of the most successful workshops in Milan in his time. This violin belongs to the workshop’s age of splendor; post-1910 ones are less valuable. An excellent investment. If you have a violinist handy, all the better. The money’s a stretch but come on… the Master and Commander violin!
2008 CUSTOM 'RABBITOHS' CHOPPER MOTORCYCLE
DESIGNED AND MADE FOR RUSSELL CROWE BY ORANGE COUNTY CHOPPERS
ESTIMATE $35,000 - $45,000
This is an homage to Crowe’s beloved team the Rabbitohs, so, the only one of its kind. If you are into custom made choppers, this one is hard to beat and it’s dual celebrity provenance: Crowe and Orange County Choppers makes it all the more special.
REPLICA ROMAN CHARIOT
FROM THE FILM, GLADIATOR (2000)
ESTIMATE $5,000 - $10,000
A proper imperial luxury and while other Manhattan divorce lawyers are sporting luxury vehicles, my brand can differentiate with a functioning Roman Chariot. Tough to ship but likely the only one, or at least the best, for Manhattan divorce lawyer Bikel! I am a bit concerned there’s a really low WAF on this item though. WAF? That’s Wife Acceptance Factor.
ROLEX COSMOGRAPH DAYTONA LATE 1990s
REF 16528 NO 149099
ESTIMATE $40,000 - $50,000
A classic Rolex, and the most valuable one in Crowe’s extensive wristwatch collection. Just can’t wear it in broad daylight on the streets of Napoli... It’s not too flashy, is it?
PLATINUM 18CT WHITE GOLD RING
FANCY YELLOW DIAMOND AND DIAMOND RING
ESTIMATE $70,000 - $100,000
Same value as two private school tuitions but massive potential WAF (see above, Wife Acceptance Factor)
PAIR OF DUELLING PISTOLS
STAMPED F. HOUSE, 18TH CENTURY
ESTIMATE $5,000 - $8,000
I am not planning to challenge anyone to a duel. However, if the pistols evoke in you the desire to have the ultimate fight with your former spouse over splitting multi-million dollar assets, give me a call, I can help you fight in a more civilized, 21st century kind of way. A very different take on the 2nd Amendment.
STUNT ROMAN CUIRASS
WORN BY RUSSELL CROWE IN THE SCENE DEPICTING THE DEATH OF THE CHARACTER, 'MAXIMUS',
IN THE FILM, GLADIATOR (2000)
ESTIMATE $20,000 - $30,000
You can’t really find a Roman original in such a good state, and well, this one has a history too. The best birthday gift on Earth for a Gladiator fan. Matches the chariot nicely.
NORMAN LINDSAY 1879-1969
ABUNDANCE (CIRCA 1924)
ESTIMATE $30,000 - $50,000
A creation of one of Australia’s most celebrated artists, this is one of the most valuable paintings in Crowe’s collection, and probably the one with the best prospects as an investment. I have a perfect spot for it in my library – okay this one’s a fantasy pick but it would be a nice offset to the inferred combat of the chariot and Russell Crowe’s Roman Gladiator breastplate that I covet.