When Swiss entrepreneur Maurice Alain Amon filed for divorce from Tracey Hejailan in Monaco in October he presented photographs of his estranged wife’s enviable shoe collection as proof of their settled life there. He is eager for the case to be heard in Monaco where matrimonial laws would give him sole rights to the couple’s modern art collection. Ms Hejailan counter-sued in New York in November but at a hearing in Manhattan’s Civil Supreme Court on Thursday (10 December 2015), Judge Robert Reed held that the New York matrimonial court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case.
With no concept of shared marital property in Monacan law, Mr Amon could lay claim to the entire collection as ownership of the artworks would be determined according to who holds legal title. Under New York law, Ms Hejalin would at least be entitled to a portion of the collection. She argues that proceedings should take place in New York as the couple’s main marital home is their Fifth Avenue apartment. On the contrary, Mr Bronstein says they called their £26 million Monaco property home:
“One need only look at the number of shoes in her closet to conclude she lives there,” he said.
Ms Hejailan had filed suit after returning to the couple’s Manhattan apartment from a trip to Europe in October to discover the art collection had disappeared. Mr Amon had reportedly stripped the walls bare and stored the artworks in Queens before launching divorce proceedings in Monaco. Mr Amon’s lawyer, Peter Bronstein, says the collection is owned by his client’s company but Ms Hejalin claims it is jointly owned. They couple did not sign a prenuptial agreement.
Among the works in dispute are Jean-Michel Basquiat’s ‘Saxophone’ (1986), Andy Warhol’s “Self Portrait” (1966), Damien Hirst’s “Acridine”, an Alexander Calder, a Takashi Murakami and three works by Richard Prince.
The contentious shoe collection can be viewed here.