The legal split of super-lobbyist couple Tony and Heather Podesta is off to a super-contentious start. Tony Podesta today filed for divorce from his wife of 11 years, which we reported on here. Now, Heather Podesta has filed a counterclaim in which she’s seeking the couple’s multi-million Kalorama home, as well as half of the couple’s vast and well-known collection of museum-quality artwork.
In the filing in D.C. Superior Court, Heather Podesta says the couple spent millions renovating the house, but that it was she who “oversaw every aspect” of the three-year project. “Given the extraordinary efforts [she] contributed to the acquisition and renovation of the marital home she is requesting that it be awarded to her,” her lawyers argued in the document.
The house wasn’t just a home, her legal team asserts. “Their goal was to create a uniquely beautiful architectural space for the dual purposes of having a wonderful home in which to live and promoting their shared interests, both professional and personal.”
She asserts that together they were more successful than they had been individually. Team Podesta “strategically cultivated their public image, and worked to build the ‘Heather and Tony Podesta’ brand for the success of their shared enterprise,” wrote her powerhouse lawyers Jonathan Dana, Marna Tucker and Michele Roberts.
As for the art, Mrs. Podesta wants to “equally divide” the trove of works, known internationally, she notes, as “The Heather and Tony Podesta Collection.” She takes issue with Tony Podesta’s handling of the collection after their separation last year, accusing him of giving away and loaning artworks in their storage facility over her objections and in some cases “without taking adequate precautions to protect valuable pieces.” She claims he also locked her out of a database used to catalog their holdings and has moved to sell some of their pieces at auction houses without her permission.
Neither filing places a dollar figure on the worth of the Podesta’s art, but individual pieces are said to be worth millions. “Podesta is counted among the nation’s most important contemporary art collectors,” The Post reported in 2004. “Inside the elite Chelsea galleries, he and his wife, Heather, are gossiped about, deferred to and ushered toward the choicest works.”
Heather Podesta asked the court to appoint a trustee to manage the collection “pending a resolution of each party’s rights and interests” and to issue an order precluding any sales or loans of the art.