The sale of the instruments will be used to pay a $611,000 judgment owed by the quartet to its former first violinist, David Ehrlich. Ehrlich successfully sued his former colleagues after they ejected him from the group in 2000.
Howard Beck, an attorney for the two musicians, who are married, asked the judge to let them keep their instruments under a "tools of the trade" exemption, under which individuals may keep items that are necessary for them to make a living. That exemption, however, is capped at $10,000. The instruments are worth $166,000.
Judge Ross Krumm rejected the plea, and gave trustee Al McLean the authority to write an order to seize the instruments and other property, according to the Times.
Proceedings in the case may not be over yet, however. An appeal is still pending in the original judgment against the Audubon. Meanwhile, Shaw and Lederer hope to be able to rent their instruments back or find another way to continue using them, Beck said.