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.

@prof I applaud you for contacting your ex-friend and asking him if he wants the records back. If he replies that he does, and he wants you to deliver them, and he has no intention of paying you for your loan...
leads back to my advice to seek legal counsel. BTW, the Canadian web page that was referenced earlier in the thread has some very specific protocols regarding the abandonment and disposition of personal property. These protocols are there for a legal reason.
Not really interested (I thought): you never "lend" money to anyone.  You give it.    On the other hand, reading through this amazing thread helps me understand the psychological basis for many of the others here.

I'll buy the collection from you, but will need a few weeks to assimilate the funds. In the meantime, I'll stop by and pick up the records, relieving you of your moral dilemma.
Records?  What records?  Oh those - I threw them out years ago when you failed to come and get them......