1. No. To begin with, anyone whose chain of title includes a thief cannot prevail over the “true” owner. But the true owner’s right to recover the property can become time-barred. The modern rule on the running of the statute of limitations is sometimes called the “discovery” rule; by that rule, the statute of limitations on an action to recover stolen property normally does not begin to run against the record owner until the owner knows, or should know, the identity of the possessor. But the rule assumes that the owner has made prompt reasonable efforts to find the possessor or to put the world on notice of the stolen property. Here, Oscar did not do this; for instance, he failed to list the painting in the information bank, a step that a reasonably diligent owner would normally take. Therefore, a court will probably hold that the statute began to run against him immediately. In that event, Anita became the owner by adverse possession in 1990.
2. Yes. As a general rule, a seller cannot convey better title than that which he holds. This is true of the unknown thief. Therefore, Dealer never got good title (regardless of whether he thought he did), and could not in turn give good title to Arnold. Consequently, even though Arnold paid full value and was completely innocent, he will lose the car. (Statutes in most states set up a certificate of title program, which would have protected Arnold in this situation.)
3. Denise. There are three requirements for the making of a valid gift: (1) delivery; (2) intent to make a gift; and (3) acceptance by the donee. Here, the delivery requirement was not satisfied, since Sidney did not give Norman either physical possession of the painting or possession of any symbolic or written instrument representing the gift.
4. All, probably. The account here is a “Totten Trust” (the name commonly used to describe an account of the form “A in trust for B”). Most courts, and the Uniform Probate Code, hold that where the trustee of a Totten Trust (here, Albert) dies before the beneficiary (here, Bertha), the beneficiary is presumed to be entitled to all funds left in the account. This presumption is rebuttable by a showing that the trustee intended a different result, but there is no such evidence here.
5. No, probably. Beck obtained title to the 30 yard strip by the doctrine of adverse possession, 20 years after he first fenced in the property (i.e., in 1980). One of the requirements for adverse possession is that the possession be “hostile.” But most courts hold that one who possesses an adjoining landowner’s land, under the mistaken belief that he has only possessed up to the boundary of his own land, meets the requirement of hostile possession. (But a minority of courts would disagree with the result, and would hold that Warren may recover possession because Beck’s possession was not hostile.)
6. Yes. Steve and Deborah held the property as co-tenants. As a general rule, cotenants each have equal access to the premises. If Steve had refused Deborah’s attempt to live on the premises, then Steve’s occupancy for the statutory period would have been “hostile,” and Steve would have taken Deborah’s half interest by adverse possession. But since Deborah never asked to live on the premises, and Steve never said that she couldn’t, Steve’s occupancy was not hostile, so he does not take her interest by adverse possession even though he was in sole occupancy for more than the statutory period. Consequently, Deborah still owned her one-half interest at the time of her death, and that interest passed to Frank.