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Chapter 2


  1. Oscar was the owner of a very valuable painting, “Rosewood.” In 1980, Rosewood was stolen from Oscar’s home. Oscar reported the theft to the police, collected insurance proceeds, and made no further efforts to locate the painting. (For example, he did not report the theft to a national information bank that lists stolen paintings, nor did he notify local art dealers.) In 1983, unbeknownst to Oscar, Anita, an art collector, “bought” Rosewood from a private gallery for $10,000. (This price was approximately the fair market value of the painting at the time, on the assumption that there was clear title.) The galley showed Anita documents indicating that the gallery had the right to sell the painting, and Anita had no reason to believe the painting to be stolen.

Anita proudly displayed the painting at her house for the next 25 years. Even though Anita and Oscar lived in the same town, Oscar did not learn of Anita’s possession of the painting until 2012, when a friend happened to mention it to him. The local statute of limitations on actions to recover personal property is 10 years. Assuming that the state follows the “modern” rule regarding when the statute of limitations on stolen personal property begins to run, if Oscar sues Anita in 2012, may he recover the painting from her? _______________

  1. Olivia’s 2005 Suburu was stolen one day while parked on the street in front of her house. Six months later, Arnold purchased from Dealer a used 2005 Suburu to which Dealer appeared to have good title. Arnold paid the full fair market value for the car. In fact, the car was the one which had been stolen from Olivia, though there was no way Arnold could reasonably have known that the car was stolen property. Through a random check of Vehicle Identification Numbers by local police, the police discovered that the car being driven by Arnold was stolen property, and so notified Olivia. Olivia has now sued Arnold in 2009 for return of the car. Arnold defends on the grounds that he is a bona fide purchaser for fair value. Assume that there are no relevant statutes. May Olivia recover the car? _____________
  2. In 1990, Sidney, a wealthy industrialist, said to his son Norman, “I am hereby giving you my valuable Monet painting, ‘Ballerinas.’” Sidney did not, however, at any time give Norman possession of the painting, nor did he give him any document indicating any transfer. The painting continued to hang on Sidney’s wall for the next 20 years. In 2010, Sidney died. His will bequeathed all of his personal property to his daughter, Denise. Who owns the painting, Norman or Denise? _______________
  3. Albert, an elderly widower, placed $100,000 in a bank savings account bearing the designation, “Albert in trust for Bertha.” Bertha was Albert’s girlfriend. During the next two years, Albert made no withdrawals, nor did Bertha. Albert then died, leaving all of his personal property by will to his son Steven. Steven and Bertha each now claim the proceeds of the bank account. Neither produces any evidence of Albert’s intent in creating the bank account. What part, if any, of the proceeds should be awarded to Bertha? _______________

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