Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Georgia O'Keefe v. Barry Snyder case brief

Georgia O’Keefe v. Barry Snyder

[1946]- Paintings stolen from gallery (March)
Stieglitz (husband/artist) died (Summer)
[1947]- retained services of Doris Bry to help settle estate.
Bry urged O’Keefe to report loss of paintings, declined: “they never got anything back by reporting it.”
[1972]- O’Keefe authorized Bry to report theft.
[1975]- O’Keefe learned paintings were in NY Gallery.
[1976] Feb 11- O’Keefe discovered paintings sold to Snyder from Ulrich Frank. Demanded their return, Snyder refused. Instituted this action for repliven.
-Ulrich Frank says father, Dr. Frank, who died in 1968 had paintings.
Does not know how father acquired paintings, recalls seeing them in father’s apartment [1941-1943]. Until [1965] Dr. Frank gave paintings to Ulrich, beforehand lent the paintings to him.
[1968]-Exhibited Cliffs and Fragments in an art show.
(all the events precede O’Keefe’s listing of the paintings as stolen in 1972).
Snyder moved for Summary Judgement on the theory that O’Keefe’s action was barred by statute of limitations and title had vested to Frank by adverse possession

-When did O’Keefe’s cause of action accrue?

-If the paintings were stolen, the thief acquired no title and could not transfer good title regardless of their good faith and ignorance of the theft.
[The Discovery Rule]: A cause of action will not accrue until the injured party discovers, or by exercise of reasonable diligence and intelligence should have discovered, facts which form the basis of a cause of action. The rule is essentially a principle of equity, the purpose of which is to mitigate unjust results that otherwise might flow from strict adherence to a rule of law.
-In determining whether O’Keefe is entitled to the benefit of the discovery rule, the court should determine:
1. Whether O’Keefe used due diligence to recover the paintings at the time of the alleged theft and thereafter.
2. Whether at the time of the alleged theft there was an effective method, other than talking to her colleagues, for O’Keefe to alert the art world.
3. Whether registering the paintings with the Art Dealers Association...Inc. or other organization, would put a reasonably prudent purchaser of art on constructive notice that someone other than the possessor was the true owner.

Equitable considerations through discovery rule > doctrine of adverse possession.
Discovery Rule: If an artist diligently seeks the recovery of a lost or stolen painting, but cannot find it or discover the identity of the possessor, the statute of limitations will not begin to run.
(Tolling – some states have “tolled” or delayed the beginning of the period if the true owner is incapacitated when claimant first takes possession)
-The owner of real property knows or should know where his property is located and reasonably can be expected to be aware of open, notorious, visible, hostile, continuous acts of possession on it.
-Statute of N.J. cuts off the remedy (such as repliven) but not the right of title.
Expiration on the statute of limitations, on the theory of adverse possession, has been not only to bar an action for possession, but also to vest title in the possessor. 

Reverse judgement of appellate division in favor of O’Keefe, remand the matter for trial in accordance with the opinion.

Property Notes 10/6
Adverse Possession
Based on statute of limitations. AP = SOL
“To constitute adverse possession, there must be actual possession which is uninterrupted, open and notorious, hostile and exclusive, and under a claim of right made in good faith for the statutory period.”
privity: The connection/relationship between two parties, each having a legally recognized interest in the same subject matter (Howard v. Kunto)
personal property:

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