Tolkien Collector's Guide
Oct 19
2020/10/19 7:10:00 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Stu made the simple example of a stolen car. You have to accept that the law doesn't care whether future parties sold/bought in good faith or the money involved. The item is not the sellers to sell & is viewed (in UK law) as stolen property. In this case I don't think any UK court would techinically define a un-returned loan of something (anything) as "theft" though. Not that it matters, the book is still the property of the library. If it does end up in the courts you'd imagine the library is still going to have to produce some sort of documentary evidence/records though i.e. loaned to Joe Bloggs, status un-returned. The value & length of time past etc are all, I'd think, irrelevant. The library's failure to previously report this to the police or elsewhere is also, I think, a red herring (for several reasons).
Oct 19
2020/10/19 7:26:26 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Everybody seems to be under the impression that this book was loaned out by Portsmouth Library and was not returned, but that's not what it says in the BBC report:

''The library service says the book had gone missing from its collection.

Portsmouth City Council library service claims the book in question was not officially checked out.''

Recently I watched a zoom presentation with Alan Lee, Ted Nasmith and John Howe. John was asked whether he'd paint his Gandalf picture again, and he said no; the original had been stolen while on loan to an exhibition and he just didn't want to paint it again.

Imagine the way this conversation would be going if the news broke that this painting had been sold at auction. Would the consensus be that it would be fair to allow the buyer to keep the painting, and give John half the money, I wonder?
Oct 19
2020/10/19 7:42:03 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
If that painting is ever found, it would be rightly returned to John, why should the book not be returned to the library?
Oct 19
2020/10/19 13:48:35 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
No, garm, but the difference is that with the theft of a painting, someone obviously acted in bad faith. (It turns out that that may be the case with the library book too, but that wasn't in evidence when I suggested sharing the auction gains.)
Oct 19
2020/10/19 17:00:27 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Accepting that the book belongs to the library, the sale could still go through with the profits going to the library, minus whatever it takes to reimburse the seller (assuming they initially bought it in good faith). I'm sure the seller wouldn't be thrilled with the missed opportunity that was never rightfully theirs, but at least they won't have suffered a loss downstream from the original theft.

The question going forward is: what is one to do should they happen upon an ex-library book of worth? Contacting the library before bringing it to auction seems to be the legally and morally correct move, but what if the library lacks documentation of theft or non-return? What if that library shut down many years ago?

I'll agree with the topic title that this is really an interesting precedent, as it challenges many collecting norms surrounding ex-library books. Seems these books have historically changed hands quite freely regardless of the legalities in place. Are past auctions of ex-lib books to be retroactively scrutinized and even brought to court?

These aren't rhetorical questions, I really just don't know.
Oct 19
2020/10/19 18:05:44 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Caudimordax wrote:

Accepting that the book belongs to the library, the sale could still go through with the profits going to the library, minus whatever it takes to reimburse the seller (assuming they initially bought it in good faith). I'm sure the seller wouldn't be thrilled with the missed opportunity that was never rightfully theirs, but at least they won't have suffered a loss downstream from the original theft.

Just to further muddy the waters, the Auction House have sold this item before, it went for $33,000 at that sale, so the current seller possibly bought it from this Auction House. The library obviously did not see that sale.
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