A Record Collection/Moral Conundrum - What Would You Do?


I’ve been rolling around an issue and I’m simply curious what others would do in my place.

Here’s the situation:

I had an long time great friend and audiophile buddy who I’ll call "John." Around 2009 or so John wanted to open a restaurant. I lent him some money. You already know how this story goes and why we aren’t friends anymore.

But to add some detail, he asked for a heap of money because he was in a fix - said he was expecting a bunch of money (from the government as I remember - showed me some papers about it) but it was going to show up a bit too late, so could I lend him the money just for about a month then he’d pay me back. I explained I was just starting a renovation of a room in my house turning it in to my long-dreamed of home theater, which I’d saved for, and that it would come out of my own savings for that project. I was very hesitant, he begged, promised it was only for a few weeks. I said I could lend him 1/2 of what he was asking (otherwise I couldn’t even pay for the contractors coming).

One of those situations where long time, very good friend who I knew was a good person, who was only ever honest with me, needed help. So I stepped in. That’s always how it goes, right? Yes, I learned the hard lesson about lending money.

Needless to say the money didn’t show up the next month. Or the next. Or the next. Whenever I asked it was another story on how the restaurant was sucking every spare dollar, he’d pay me as soon as he could. Of course the restaurant quickly went under. I was like "I need that money, I have contractors to pay" and he just said he didn’t have any to give. Next he told me he was selling his house, downsizing, and he’d use the funds to pay off his debts including to me. Ok. What else was I going to do?

He asked if he could store his much beloved record collection at my place while he sold his house. Ok. Several boxes full of nice records took up (some valuable) real estate in my basement.

Basically I never heard from him again. Heard he sold his house, but that was it. Other friends have been in occasional contact. I’d been hoping that with his records here maybe he’d show up one day. Of course not.

So...now...11 years later!...I need some money. And I’m cleaning out the basement, wanting those records out of there.

I could sell the records and at least make some money.

The question for the audience is: Do you do it?

The case for selling them seems relatively obvious. He stiffed me for many thousands of dollars that he never paid back. Had me store the records forever while he went AWOL. Clearly has zero intention of ever picking them up.Every arrow points towards "They Are Mine Now."

Except...I have a conscience. He never formally gave them to me.

So, would you try to track "John" down to ask if he wants his records back (and explain otherwise I’m going to sell them)?

Or would you just go ahead, assume ownership (and payback) and sell them?

Floor is yours.

"Basically I never heard from him again. Heard he sold his house, but that was it. Other friends have been in occasional contact. I’d been hoping that with his records here maybe he’d show up one day. Of course not.

So...now...11 years later!...I need some money. And I’m cleaning out the basement, wanting those records out of there."
 I see NO issue here,the records are yours to do with as you please.
For starters you need to contact notify your X-friend about your intentions...


This blurb "claims" that the info is for all 50 states (if you live in the USA), but I would still double check with your state.

Personally, I always strongly attempt to abide by the law(s) (except in rare/extreme circumstances where a decision needs to made immediately).

Post removed 
Some "friend" you had there!  "Friends" and money "agreements"  can get weird.

11 years? Take the hit, and wipe your hands clean.

If you're an LP fan, I'd cherry pick for the "stampers", dump all the rest. 
Either try and unload the lot to a store, or give them away to friends who can appreciate them.

Selling individually will take a long time, with little or possibly  NO success.

Unless you have specific genre ORIGINAL press/unmolested LP's, they're essentially worthless.
i would consult an attorney before you sell the records. or study the local property laws and establish some sort of legal basis of selling them.

i’m assuming you documented the loan.

every state has an unclaimed property law. it may or may not pertain to individuals. i just signed 150 checks totaling $9000 for un-cashed checks to customers. and we have to send $3500 to the state. we are required to do it once a year.

it’s the law.

Thanks for the replies so far.

Cripes almighty I never considered getting lawyers involved.(No I don't have any document of the loan that I recall - perhaps an old bank statement, but that's water under the bridge that I'm not going to re-visit)

I'm in Canada.

A quick google on my province only yields law pertaining to landlords (when they can dispose of/sell property left behind by tenants).   Basically it's considered abandoned after 1 month.  If the landlord sells the stuff the tenant has up to 6 months to claim any money.   Clearly 11 years later is a different ballgame, but I have no idea if this stuff pertains to individuals.

Nothing I can find on the matter.

document your research process and the whole episode, and then proceed. you can also research the value of the long term storage of the records and rationalize it that way. but document it and your reasoning.

just the facts.

then sell them.

Thanks Mike.
What if I’m able to find him to suggest a decision: either pick them up, or put in writing (email) that he has given them to me.?

You have every right to sell the records as your own without any pangs of conscience.
I don't see any need to consult an attorney as he can't prove that he gave them to you, just as you can't prove that you loaned him money. 
This is pretty simple. Even if you sell them he still ends up ahead considering storage fees and interest lost.
There may be a question of adverse possession.  It's possible that your ex-friend legally may have  a claim for ownership of your basement.  You fell right into his trap.
I'm not going to claim an attorney or inerrant. But I have been in Business for over 40 yrs. I think that 11 yrs absence has long since broken any type contractor of contract, verbal or written. But as @mikelavigne has said, it won't be a bad idea whatsoever to ask an attorney It all  hinges on the agreement you had with him.
Records as collateral = Fine. Or did you "store them" If so, You''ll lose IMO.  Terms of the loan are very important. If  he says it was a gift, you will have to prove it was a loan . Sorry. I'm a past maybe/nearly lawyer Check with a real one. My degree comes from Holiday Inn Express
I’m amazed you’ve held on to the LPs this long. You’re a good guy. Now sell them.
But selling LPs ain’t easy.
If you try a big stage like eBay maybe he will buy back his old records - with your money.

Didn't Curb just do something about borrower dementia?  
I forget.

Did you give him anything in writing about these records belonging to him? Are they serialized? Sell them and don’t fret. You have gone beyond what any normal and righteous person would have done given the situation.
I wouldn't go the attorney route or you'll just end up with another bill to pay.
I'd try to contact him regarding the money he owes informing him you really need it, if he says he still can't pay I would remind him of the records and tell him of your intent to sell and subtract whatever is made from what he owes and ask him to set up a repayment schedule.
Exactly. They’re abandoned, do whatever you like with them. Answer would be the same whether he owed you money, or not.
You have been in possession of the property for 11 years, I don't care if it's a 50 million dollar Picasso. The guy abandon it.. Plain and simple..

BTW 30-90 days at the max and you can sell the proceeds pay YOUR debts for storage and HE would have had 6 months to collect the difference including any EXTRA cost you may have ensued for housing HIS abandon property..

Honestly, he STILL owes you the money and he legally abandon THAT property eons ago.. I've gotten a FEW judgements in my life, 3 to be clear. NEVER collected on one. They were all BUMBS, liars and thieves.

Call them what you like.. 1 in 100 restaurants make it for 20 year..
1 in 10 for 5 years.. What the heck were you thinkin.. :-) Hind sight.. ay..

Goof ball friends.. I had one STUCK in Bolivia, no money.. IN JAIL..

What do you do, leave him there?  I did for 12 days, stupid $hit. LOL
I was in the similar situation, but without records or anything I could sell to get my money back :(

In your situation you have to check the value of the record collection first. Those dealers won’t pay much for collection if you want to sell everything at ones. You’re lucky if there are some rare records that cost a lot, but there might be only some cheapies, who knows. Did you check the titles? Use popsike.com to check for final auction prices, use discogs to check for price statistics. You could sell some of the rarest and most expensive records if there are any. 

Personally I wouldn’t sell record collection if there are good records I could listen to.
They are yours by default, by default he never paid you back and by default you haven't heard from him on 11 years.
I have lent money in excess of $1,000 about four times… I have NEVER gotten a penny back. Never lend a significant amount of money to a friend. Ever, unless you consider it a gift.

Dispose of records as you see fit. I am sure the eleven years of storage fees now cover the whole cost of the collection.
You didn't document the loan, did you document storage?

If not, then it's your word against his....

I'd sell the records you don't want to keep.  If you don't want to sell them.  I'd donate them.

If I was a lawyer, the first question I would ask is how much did you lend him and follow that up with how much do you think his records are worth. Not asking for the numbers to get a total but asking to determine how much liability am I exposing myself to. 
There are any number of record dealers who post clips on YouTube about large collections they've acquired. I would suggest you contact one of these dealers to ask their opinion of whether you have the right to sell the goods. If their response is encouraging, you then contact an attorney for a consultation about the legality of you selling the property. This could be a single consultation for which you would pay a flat fee; you wouldn't have to involve the attorney any further. I doubt a dealer would buy it from you if he wasn't sure you had the right to sell it.

Another option open is to hire a private investigator to find the whereabouts and contact information for the person who left the records with you. You could then negotiate with the owner, and perhaps get a written agreement to accept the the abandoned property in lieu of payment of the loan. This could also be done through an attorney, who would have established relationship with investigators. Whatever course you take, arrange a flat fee for the attorney's services, and then decide if it's worth it to you.
Perhaps there are two separate issues here..;) One is the money you lent to your 'friend' and which perhaps he now still owes you ( assuming you had some kind of deed or note)- and two- is the sale of his possessions. I do not think they are connected. As such, unless you have his permission to dispose of his possessions, I would be very careful in doing so. ( More than likely there is a legal answer to this point. One which you have been advised to discover). You stored his possessions for 11 years, which was done at your cost, unless you had a lease agreement with him. Interesting conundrum..and one which if you are seriously interested in doing the right thing, should be legally consulted, IMHO.
My humble nonprofessional opinion, the records are yours and don't spend any money on a lawyer.
If you managed to get a receipt for the IOU that he *signed*, you’re in the clear on ownership of the records. If NOT, he can come back and burn you in small claims court—again. After 11-12 years, he could DENY you ever loaned him money. 
You lose! Again!
Here's what I would do. Stare neurotically at my navel, ask a random bunch of even more neurotic navel gazers what should I do I am so conflicted, etc etc, circle back to gazing impotently at my navel, lather rinse repeat until another 11 years goes by, try and remember wtf was the question, then start another discussion what is the most neurotic way to figure out how to sell them? Where should I list them? For how much? One at a time or in batches? Ha. Just kidding. I would never ask anyone here what to do, about anything! Why? SCROLL UP AND READ!🤣🤣🤣https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jOwmWJV0q8
I just hope that when you lent him the money, your financial situation was such that you could afford it. Otherwise, I wouldn't have given him "thousands of dollars." As for the records, yes, they're now yours given the time lapse and the fact that he stiffed you. Clear your conscience of any moral qualms you might have, and do with them as you wish. Apparently, your ex-friend had no moral qualms about not paying you back. 
If anything was ever said you could always say you sold them within the 1st year. Statute of limitations.
I've learned my lesson with a similar situation. If you loan money to a friend, be prepared to either lose your friend or lose your money. The only thing that worries me is suppose he calls you next week and wants to pay you back and get his records? That would be a difficult conversation. I would (at least) try to get in touch with him once, then do what you want. If he ever contacts you, you can always say you attempted to contact him. 
As stated above, the records have been abandoned. You have no obligation to store them indefinitely. You said he you have friends that are in contact. Tell them to let the deadbeat know your intentions, with a timeframe and if you still hear nothing, dispose of them as you wish.
If you and/or him did not sign anything about money or/and records then it’s just an illusion (a mutual agreement from 11 years ago). No one can prove anything. A pretty common situation between friends.

You will never get your money back unless he will give it to you for some reason. He will never get his records unless you will give them to him for some reason. Very simple. You both have been waiting for 11 years already.

What you have to know is that records DO NOT COST MUCH unless there is something rare, dealers will never tell you the real value of this collection and they will resell all the records separately for much higher prices. If you really want to sell records you have to look for each record online on the sources like popsike and discogs , then you will be able to separate rare and expensive records (if there are any) from cheap garbage. Dealers will rip you off again giving you about $3 per vinyl and then you will see them for $30 or even $300 (if there are rare records) at their store!
It is not that big a deal and lawyers are definitely not needed. He has no intention of picking them up. Sell them and get them out of your life. If he ever comes back looking for them, he never gave them to you and you have not idea what he is talking about. 
 If you didn't bother with documenting the loan you gave him I would guess you didn't document the records. In my opinion they are yours now.
You have no legal obligation at this point. However, I can tell by your post that you care about doing the right thing here. Your integrity is important to you. The past actions of your friend have nothing to do with how you conduct yourself now. He is responsible for his actions and you for your’s alone.

Go ahead and try to contact him. Ask him if he wants them and if so to please arrange to have them picked up by a certain date. If he does not want them, then just confirm you are good to sell them and keep the proceeds. Make no mention of the money he owes you, but be gracious. In the end this approach will win your past friend over more than any other action you could possibly take. You also maintain your impeccable character and integrity. No downside to reaching out and concluding this matter. 

If he cannot be found after taking reasonable measures, then sell them. Good luck.
Prior to posting here for advice: The records are yours.

After posting here:  Your hand-wringing shows you're consciously anticipating some type of legal fall-out. At this point ask for a legal opinion.

In the US lawyers are a dime a dozen (no derision intended), there are
enough that there are such things as "call a lawyer" for a somewhat minimum fee.

What I would do or would have done should be obvious.  You are an honorable person sir.

I generally do not lend money to friends. I believe you may only meet one or two true friends in your life...if you're lucky. If I do lend, as I've done only once, I expect to never see that money again and look at it as a loss.

In my case, she paid me back. But 11 years is already too long for something not in writing and already a debt owed.

Still a good story. Thanks for sharing.

You should calculate interest to date and document the loan with accrued interest and total amount due. Then, try to find him through the internet and send him a polite demand letter with a final due date. If you cant find him, place an ad in the classified section of the newspaper in the last known town that you are certain he resided in with a respond by date.

Are the records worth more than what he owes you? If so, you are golden. In either case, sell the records after your respond by date, document the net sales proceeds of the records and keep in your files. Also document if you choose to keep some of the records the approximate value for your files.

All of the above is likely unnecessary and overkill, the steps however would ease your conscience and provide you peace of mind that you did everything the right way.
You shouldn’t have posted about this (here or anywhere), and you shouldn’t have tortured yourself over the moral implications - that just means your dickhead "friend" has now screwed you over TWICE!

In the future, just stop listening as soon as someone pitches a ridiculous "the money will be here in X months" scenario. Tell them to wait X months.

I've lent small money to friends, but never an amount I really cared about, or that in any way would complicate my life with its sustained absence. 
Just ran a WWW search of - abandoned tangible personal property laws Canada - and came up with this link for Alberta.


Their law "as I understand" it is (5 years/under $1K value/no need to report).

You might try the same for your area.

Also realize to get "top" dollar for those records you’d have to painstakingly list and sell them individually. There’s a HUGE value discrepancy between their sum of median / max values on DiscOgs marketplace versus dumping the whole collection off to a dealer (or collector) for what they offer. There is also a HUGE labor discrepancy in these 2 scenarios. Your time is valuable, and you didn’t "ask" for this job, so the latter (much smaller) value is what you should apply against the debt if you’re gonna do it that way.
The difference between consulting an attorney as opposed to a couple of dozen random jailhouse lawyers on a message board is that the attorney is likely to have an informed opinion about the law where you live. This costs money. Whether you want to sell them yourself depends on whether you think being an online record dealer would be a fun hobby. What a record dealer offers is the ability to pay you up front for inventory that is likely not to sell for months or years. This is why you will get a lower price for the collection than you might want. A middle ground would be to pick out the more valuable items to sell yourself, and dump the middling majority of it on a dealer. We're likely in an era of peak LP now, so this would be the time to do that. Where I live in Los Angeles I see ads from record stores soliciting LP collections.

Thanks for all the replies. I was as much simply curious what other people would do in the same situation, as for looking for advice.

I had not even considered the legal aspect of the whole thing. So I’m glad some raised that issue.

I’m not looking for my money back - gave up on that long ago, life is too short. Learn the life lesson, move on.

Of all the posts this one tracks my sentiments and thinking most closely:

You have no legal obligation at this point. However, I can tell by your post that you care about doing the right thing here. Your integrity is important to you. The past actions of your friend have nothing to do with how you conduct yourself now. He is responsible for his actions and you for your’s alone.

Go ahead and try to contact him. Ask him if he wants them and if so to please arrange to have them picked up by a certain date. If he does not want them, then just confirm you are good to sell them and keep the proceeds. Make no mention of the money he owes you, but be gracious. In the end this approach will win your past friend over more than any other action you could possibly take. You also maintain your impeccable character and integrity. No downside to reaching out and concluding this matter.

I’m not actually one to hold grudges. I think our estrangement comes more from his own embarrassment about contacting me than anything else.

As for selling the records, my situation is the following: I got back heavily in to vinyl several years ago and have been purchasing vinyl furiously. But also very cautiously and carefully. I don’t want to be one of those places overwhelmed with records everywhere and I’ve already reached my current storage limit. So I’ve already got a pretty big, well curated record collection. That’s why I haven’t spent much time even going through my friend’s records. I don’t want to have them "just to have them" and likely won’t want to keep many of them, if any.

Though he was heavy in to vinyl way before me, and I think he was pretty careful about what he bought too, in terms of quality.

The idea of putting much time at all in to the selling process is just a pain to me. There’s no way I want to turn selling the records in to some second job, e.g. using discogs etc. So I’m likely to get what I can for the ones local record stores will take, then maybe give away the rest.

That is, all depending on how things go if I get in touch with my ex-friend. (Apparently some of my other friends have been in occasional contact, to I might be able to contact him).