Should Property Acquired by a Celebrity During the Period of Marriage Be Equitably Distributed With Spouse ?

In Elkus v. Elkus, 169 A.D.2d 134, 572 N.Y.S.2d 901 (1st Dept 1991), the wife was Frederica von Stade, a renowned opera singer whose fame and income rose dramatically during the course of her seventeen-year marriage to the defendant. The Appellate Division, First Department held that the appreciation of Ms. Von Stade's career constituted marital property to the extent that it was due to her husband's efforts and contributions. Id. at 140. In Golub v. Golub, 139 Misc. 2d 440, 441, 527 N.Y.S.2d 946 (NY Co 1988), the wife was Marisa Berenson, a film and television actress and model. The court found that the increase in value of Ms. Berenson's acting and modeling career during her six years of marriage to the defendant was property acquired during the marriage. Id at 444. In Piscopo v. Piscopo, 232 N.J. Super. 559, 557 A.2d 1040 (NJ Super Ct App Div 1989), the plaintiff was an entertainer and comedian who rose to fame and fortune during his marriage to the defendant. The Appellate Division in New Jersey held that the goodwill associated with the plaintiffs celebrity status is property which must be valued and then distributed equitably among the parties. Id. at 1040-43.