My wife and I recently returned from an Alaskan cruise tour. It was a “bucket list” trip. In addition, we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary on a ship that included about 2,200 happy people. One of the many scheduled on-board activities was an art auction. I went to the afternoon event as a complete novice straining to remember the primary colors. The auction featured fine art by well-known artists. Each art piece, except sculptures, was beautifully framed and matted. The artists included Peter Max, Itzchack Tarkey, Pino, Daniel Wall, Norman Rockwell, Thomas Kinkade, LeRoy Neiman, Duaiv, Simon Bull, Viktor Shvaiko, and others.
The auctioneer was named Pierre who hailed from South Africa. He was sharply dressed in a business suit and tie. He knew how to move an auction quickly. In his introductory remarks, he said that each purchased piece would be framed and shipped to your home with a promise to replace any frame damaged in transit. An appraisal of a purchased piece was available for $35.00 and $15.00 for each piece thereafter. The appraisal would help to insure properly the purchased piece. I knew then that dynamic bidding must be next.
Pierre also said that purchasing one or two pieces was nice; however, the purchase of three or more pieces was a collection. I sensed immediately that Pierre was looking for collectors. Experienced art purchasers flanked me on all sides. As a result, my innocence was exposed. A couple to my left were particularly active successful bidders and proudly knew the names of most of the artists when a new piece was hoisted by the hired help to the center easel which was illuminated by a bright overhead light.
The free champagne courtesy of the auction company seemed to unleash the couple’s spirited bidding. In contrast, I sipped the free orange juice in stunned silence.
As an estate planner, I wondered privately how this active couple to my left would dispose of their purchases at death although the grim reaper did not appear imminent for either of them. Did they have a revocable trust? If yes, did they previously sign an assignment of a tangible personal property that included a provision for after acquired personal property items to add these new purchases to their trust? Was the couple’s estate planning based solely on two wills – one for him, one for her? Did their respective wills include a paragraph or incorporate a personal property list to indicate who should receive these new fine art pieces after the death of the survivor of them? Did they live in Missouri where a bill of sale could be used to avoid probate on their newly acquired fine art pieces? Did they have any estate planning in place at all? Shudder the thought that they were barren of any personal estate planning documents. Collections are often coveted and valuable assets in a couple’s net worth. These professional thoughts entered my mind as their bid number became a frequent winner. My professional musing was suddenly interrupted by Pierre the auctioneer stating loudly “Going once, going twice. Sold. Number 217. A very good purchase indeed.” The active couple to my left had added to their collection that afternoon in the Explorer’s Lounge on deck 6. My witness of their achievement and happiness along with my orange juice satisfied me enough.