Friday, February 29, 2008

Lost and Found

The Boston Globe reports on the discovery of three paintings (including a Hassam and a Courbet) that were stolen back in 1976. Now the question is, Who owns them -- the heir of the original owner, the insurance company that paid the claim three decades ago ($45,000, though they're worth millions today), or the guy who found them? The US attorney's office in Providence has asked the District Court to decide.

I think we can rule out the finder, as he seems to recognize (he says he would like the heir to get them, though he "would like the court to compensate him, too, covering his expenses and maybe throwing in a little reward"). As between the insurer and the heir, typically an insurance company acquires whatever rights the insured has to the paintings when it pays off a claim, so unless there was something unusual about this particular situation, the insurer would seem to have the pole position.