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The Good Faith Acquisition of Stolen Art


John Henry Merryman


Stanford University

October 29, 2007

Stanford Public Law Working Paper No. 1025515
Stanford Law and Economics Olin Working Paper No. 364

Abstract:     
Good faith purchasers of stolen goods fare differently in Western legal systems. American rules favor the owner, while the civil law world protects the good faith purchaser. Oddly, this striking difference is misunderstood or denied or both by American scholars. American lawyer-economists who have considered which is the better rule differ in their perceptions and conclusions, as do the positions taken by non-economists. A related difference exists in the application of statutes of limitation in good faith purchaser cases. Proposals that it would be fairer to split the loss seem bound to fail. A solution involving the Art Loss Register and the New York courts' use of the laches doctrine is more promising.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 28

Keywords: art, theft, contract, good faith purchaser

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Date posted: October 31, 2007 ; Last revised: September 29, 2009

Suggested Citation

Merryman, John Henry, The Good Faith Acquisition of Stolen Art (October 29, 2007). Stanford Public Law Working Paper No. 1025515; Stanford Law and Economics Olin Working Paper No. 364. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1025515 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1025515

Contact Information

John Henry Merryman (Contact Author)
Stanford University ( email )
Stanford, CA 94305
United States
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