The Seattle divorce between Microsoft executive Christopher Larson and his wife Julia Calhoun has been in the news since it was announced earlier this year. Larson is a minority owner of the Seattle Mariners, and the couple has given generously to charities and non-profits around Washington State. Now, the couple is making headlines again as they struggle to divide their wealth of possessions, including an extensive art collection featuring world-renowned artists like Claude Monet and John Singer Sargent.
The art collection, which consisted of 47 pieces priced at $102 million, was the most difficult aspect of the division of property, according to the Seattle Times. The art would have lost too much value if it had been sold, and held great personal value for both husband and wife. They tried and failed twice to divide the art fairly themselves before a King County judge was assigned the task of splitting the collection. The judge asked both parties to write an essay explaining which pieces meant most to them and made his decisions from there, trying to split the collection evenly and fairly.
According to court documents, Larson asked for pieces that were worth less per square inch – a strategy that would maximize the amount of wall space he could cover in the large mansion he got in the divorce. Calhoun asked for a number of specific pieces based on sentimental value and got the two she desired most. After the judge passed down his decisions, the ex-couple traded a few paintings among themselves, so that it is not clear to the public exactly who got which paintings in the end.
The couple originally married in 1986 – after being introduced to each other by Bill Gates – and separated in 2009.