A billionaire couple has agreed to sell five Picassos, 44 of Monet’s masterpieces and a David Hockney vase as part of a divorce settlement that will allow them to leave their $17 billion fortune.
The art bazaar, involving the Légion d’Honneur honoree and his ex-wife, is part of a complex legal agreement reached at Manhattan Family Court this week that will allow the art savvy couple to escape bankruptcy and build their new life outside the courts.
Last October, a jury found Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife Wendi Deng guilty of third-degree assault after she threw the leering portrait of her father out of their daughter’s room at their family home.
Deng and her Australian husband, James Packer, also 25, had sought to divorce in a New York courtroom last July, though a ruling was postponed because the couple fell behind in their payments to the collector Lehman Bros.
The $600 million sales range for the work, paintings and paintings in progress indicates they might be the most valuable divorce settlement ever, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Guernsey’s, a New York auction house, told the Post that the paintings — $96 million for “Jaguar and Indian Motorcycle” by French artist Henri Matisse, $98 million for “Portrait of Ophelia” by Picasso and $25 million for “The Dove with the Ermine” by Mondrian — would fetch between $23 million and $62 million.
The Château de Wideville — also known as the Parc du Château de Wideville — is a 17th-century castle owned by the couple, whose global stake in companies such as News Corp. includes TV and movie interests in China, the two largest film studios in Hollywood and other media holdings, The Guardian reported.
“This is a private matter and we’re not able to comment on ongoing matters,” John Klepisz, a spokesperson for the couple, told the Post.
As part of the divorce settlement, the couple also agreed to demolish a 28-story tower they were building in a New York suburb. The structure, located in Belle Harbor, Queens, was being built on what was left of the old Belle Harbor Motel, which underwent extensive renovations as part of the Waldorf Astoria chain, the Post reported.
During the civil trial, the couple’s lawyer, Paul Shechtman, said the “incredibly intrusive” tower would “be almost as tall as the Empire State Building.” It would also leave a bad impression on those who live nearby.
In a statement, Belle Harbor Mayor Michael Serpa said, “The city is deeply distressed by what has transpired in the divorce proceeding. Our residents have indicated that they feel lost and apprehensive because they do not know what they’re getting into — especially when it involves a compound that’s so out of character with Belle Harbor.”
Packer and Deng had been married for seven years when she attacked Murdoch, who was 51, in front of their daughter.
It’s also not known if the couple will stay in New York. The Post reported that they recently returned to Los Angeles for a “summer getaway.”