An economist's wife stashed away a treasured haul of more than 8,000 family photographs to stop him getting copies of them as part of their divorce settlement, a court heard yesterday. William Overholt, a Harvard graduate and keen amateur photographer, has taken the case to the Court of First Instance in a bid to win rights to the collection. He and ex-wife Monica reached agreement on splitting their assets when they divorced almost a year ago after 29 years of marriage. But Mr Overholt, chief strategist for Asia excluding Japan at Nomura International (Hong Kong), claims she has refused to keep an agreement to give him access to the photographs. 'I kept telling my lawyers I will let the other things go. But these photographs are really important to me. I am determined to get them back,' he told the judge. The former Mrs Overholt claimed through her lawyers that she had handed over all the photographs she had. But her ex-husband obtained a court order to search her new home and more than 8,000 were found in shoe boxes, envelopes and an antique cabinet, the court heard. Mr Overholt said some of the albums contained early childhood shots of their two daughters, who are now adults. There were pictures of one daughter being born and the other taking part in a ballet performance. He claimed photographs had 'mysteriously disappeared' from the matrimonial home before the division of possessions. A sterling silver album given to the couple by their two daughters for their 25th wedding anniversary was among items which went missing, he alleged. This was found during the search of the ex-wife's home, the court heard. 'It would have been one of the most important items for obvious sentimental value,' he said. Mr Overholt is seeking the right to borrow the collection, and any other pictures not found in the search, in order to make copies. He admitted his ex-wife had given him about 600 pictures before the search of her home. But he claimed many were of empty properties and had been taken in connection with her work as an estate agent. 'I looked through them. They had been selected to be almost useless to me,' Mr Overholt said. The case, before Mr Justice Arjan Sakhrani, continues today.