Brief Fact Summary. This is an appeal from an order of the Appellate Division by the Plaintiff, Georgia O’keefe (Plaintiff), against the Defendant, Barry Snyder, d/b/a Princeton Gallery of Fine Art (Defendant) for replevin of three pictures painted by the Plaintiff.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The statute of limitations for replevin will begin when the owner of the chattel should have through due diligence discovered facts that form the basis for a cause of action.
If chattels are stolen can title be acquired and later transferred to others regardless of their good faith purchase?
Did the statute of limitations for replevin bar this cause of action?
Whether the Defendant acquired adverse possession of the chattels?
No, a thief cannot acquire title to a stolen chattel and cannot transfer good title to others, regardless of their good faith and ignorance of the theft.
Remanded. The discovery rule applies so the Plaintiff’s cause of action accrued when she first knew or should have know though the exercise of due diligence, of the cause of action. In determining whether the Plaintiff is entitled to the discovery rule the trial court should determine (1) whether the Plaintiff used due diligence to recover the paintings at the time of the alleged theft; (2) whether at the time of the alleged theft there was an effective method of for the Plaintiff to alert the art world of the theft and (3) whether registering the painting with an art organization would have put a reasonably prudent purchaser of art on constructive notice that someone other the possessor was the true owner.
No, title to chattels cannot be acquired through adverse possession and the appropriate test is whether the owner of the chattels has acted with due diligence in pursuing his personal property.
The court concluded that the discovery rule applies to an action for replevin of a painting the plaintiff's cause of action accrued when she first knew, or reasonably should have known through the exercise of due diligence, of the cause of action, including the identity of the possessor of the paintings.View Full Point of Law