Question: Rick Kenyon purchased a painting by a noted Western artist
Rick Kenyon purchased a painting by a noted Western artist, Bill Gollings, valued between $8,000 and $15,000 for $25 at a Salvation Army thrift store. Claude Abel filed suit against Kenyon seeking the return of the painting, which had belonged to his late aunt. Abel claimed that the Salvation Army mistakenly took the painting from his aunt's house when the box in which it was packed was mixed with items being donated to the thrift store. Abel's aunt, Billie Taylor, was a friend of the artist whose works were known for their accurate portrayal of the Old West. Sometime before his death in 1932, Gollings gave a painting to Taylor depicting a Native American on a white horse in the foreground with several other Native Americans on horses in the background traveling through a traditional Western prairie landscape. The painting remained in Taylor's possession at her home in Sheridan, Wyoming, until her death on August 31, 1999. After Taylor's death, Abel traveled from his home in Idaho to Sheridan for the funeral and to settle the estate. Abel was the sole heir of Taylor's estate, so he inherited all of her personal belongings, including the Gollings painting. Abel and his wife sorted through Taylor's belongings, selecting various items they would keep for themselves. Abel and his wife, with the help of a local moving company, packed those items into boxes marked for delivery to their home in Idaho. Items not being retained by Abel were either packed for donation to the Salvation Army or, if they had sufficient value, were taken by an antiques dealer for auction. The scene at the house was one of some confusion as Abel tried to vacate the residence as quickly as possible while attempting to make sure all of the items went to their designated destinations. The painting was packed by Abel's wife in a box marked for delivery to Idaho. However, in the confusion and unbeknown to Abel, the box containing Gollings's painting was inadvertently picked up with the donated items by the Salvation Army. It was priced at $25 in its thrift store and sold to Kenyon. After returning to Idaho, Abel discovered that the box containing the painting was not among those delivered by the moving company. He also learned that the painting had gone to the Salvation Army and had been sold to Kenyon. When Kenyon refused to acknowledge he had the painting, Abel brought suit seeking its return. Kenyon claimed that he was a good faith purchaser of the painting that had been given to the Salvation Army. Was Abel entitled to have the painting returned to him on the grounds that not having made a gift of the painting, he was still the owner, and that its sale by the Salvation Army was a conversion of his property?
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