Billionaire Harry Macklowe, ex-wife Linda feuding over nearly $1B art collection

“The art world will be fighting over it."

Billionaire real estate developer Harry Macklowe and his estranged wife have had to deal with one unusual element in their ongoing divorce battle: their nearly $1 billion art collection, according to a recent report.

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Macklowe, 81, and his ex-wife, Linda, finalized their divorce late last year after 59 years of marriage, but are still working out how to split the massive and wide-ranging collection of more than 150 pieces by legendary artists, including Mark Rothko, Pablo Picasso and Jeff Koons, The New York Times reported.

"The art world will be fighting over it," said former vice chairman of Sotheby's, David Redden, to the outlet, describing the collection "fairly staggering" and "one of the great prizes."

Macklowe boasts a net worth just shy of $2.5 billion today, according to the Times. He is not currently on Forbes' list of 400 wealthiest Americans.

Linda is an avid art collector, according to the report, and an honorary trustee at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 11: The luxury developer Harry Macklowe places large 42 foot photographs of himself and his new wife, Patricia Landeau, on a building he built, 432 Park Avenue, as seen on March 11, 2019 in Manhattan, New York City. (Photo by And

The longtime couple's split was first announced in 2016, around the same time Macklowe was reported to be having an affair with French businesswoman Patricia Landeau. In March of this year, Macklowe plastered a picture of himself and Landeau on the side of one of the buildings he owned. The couple wed just days later.

Both Macklowes enlisted independent art experts to estimate the value of their art. Linda's expert appraised the collection at $625 million, while Harry's estimated $788 million.

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In 2015, Christie's valued the trove at $937.5 million, the Times report.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: Harry Macklowe and Patricia Landeau on May 2, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Amber De Vos/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

The collection was so vast it did not fit in their Plaza mansion, which was a combination of seven apartments that had been demolished and reconstructed. Some pieces were moved to their Hamptons home.  Others were put into storage.

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Following a back-and-forth court battle between the estranged couple, an appeals court granted Linda approximately $39 million of the collection, as well as their Plaza home, according to the report.

The rest of the collection – including the $50 million Warhol – will be sold, the Times reported.

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Harry's appeals attorney, David Boies, told the court at the time that the couple would need to cash in on their art collection "to sustain their lifestyle."

"They don't have the cash," Boies said, according to the Times. He allegedly added that the trove accounted for approximately 60 to 75 percent of their assets.

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But Linda was not keen to sell the art, according to State Supreme Court Justice Laura E. Drager, whose ruling was affirmed by the appeals court.

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"She stated that she wished to enjoy the collection and sell individual pieces only as necessary to support her standard of living," Drager wrote.

Appraisers Association of America President Lark E. Mason likened the sale of the Macklowes' collection to that of David Rockefeller’s and Royal Cruise Line founder Barney A. Ebsworth.

He told the Times: "My sense is this would be one of the major art collections to arrive at auction within the past decade."