Whitney St. John and James B. Fairchild’s acrimonious divorce began in 2011, and the couple has been fighting over how to divide their fabulous collection of art and antiques ever since. With no amicable resolution in sight, last week, a Suffolk County judge ordered the couple to liquidate their possessions and equally divide the proceeds. The sale took place over Memorial Day weekend at the couple’s Hamptons home.
According to Fairchild, the sale brought in far less than it should have because St. John squirreled away over $300,000 worth of jewelry that she was required to sell. The couple had purchased the jewels as inventory for a boutique they planned to open together before their marriage went off the rails. St. John lobbed identical accusations at Fairchild. Her lawyer told the press that Fairchild “intercept[ed] valuable store inventory.” She also accused Fairchild of selling a 1955 Jaguar for $175,000 and keeping the proceeds of the sale for himself.
As we wrote here and here, valuables like jewelry and cash can be extremely difficult, but not impossible, to track down. If we were conducting an investigation for either party in this case, we would first suggest subpoenaing the opposing side’s bank records. Each side knows when and where the jewels were bought, so they would not look for a large cash purchase. Instead, we would recommend looking for payments to jewelry appraisers, insurers, or payments to a bank for a safe deposit box. They should also subpoena the other side’s insurance policies and look for an itemized schedule of the items covered or evidence that the coverage amount of the policy was recently increased.
Determining whether Fairchild sold his car is far easier than finding hidden jewelry. As we wrote here, antique cars must be registered with the DMV just like any other vehicle. A vehicle registration search would thus reveal whether Fairchild recently transferred the car’s title to another owner. Some states’ DMV records are private, but we still might be able to find evidence of the sale in the form of a UCC filing if the buyer financed the purchase of the car.
To hunt down cash resulting from the sale, we would first look for companies, trusts, or other entities where Fairchild may have stashed the cash. Then, we would recommend getting the bank records for those entities. As we have written many times, this can only be done with a court order. At that point, it is just a question of looking for suspicious deposits or cash purchases that correspond to the car’s value.