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.

The moral issue seems clear, so I'll deal with the practicalities.

What are the consequences if you dispose of the records? He asks for them back or damages, i.e. the value of his loss. You counterclaim for your loans. 

If you want to protect your position, write to him at the most recent address you have - get proof of posting.

Document the loans, terms etc and the records. Give him a reasonable time to reply, to repay and deal with the records, or you will dispose of them and put the proceeds against his debt.

You may want to get 2 prices from record shops if they have a material value. 
I didn’t notice anyone recommending disposal of the LPs as trash or gifting them, but perhaps I have not read the whole thread. In the US, it could work out OK to donate them to a charitable organization and take a tax deduction. I have no idea of the tax laws in Russia. Sure, the OP could go through the collection and keep for himself anything he likes. So far, after X years of storage on his property, it does not appear he has done that. Anything he does now is justified and better from his point of view than what went before. By the way, although I have not discussed the issue with my wife, I plan to suggest to her that she should sell my LPs to a bulk buyer, likely to be a dealer. Or donate them to a charity. She won’t need the money, and I cannot imagine her or our sons selling them piecemeal.

I recently checked again the current auction finals on popsike.com for some of the records from my collection, for many Soul 45s from the 60s and 70s, purchased by me probably 15 years ago, the current prices are simply insane! I often see a typical $300-500 price tag per record when they are sold, here is one of them - this is what I call rare records.

My point is that sometime there might be 1-5 records that cost more than entire collection! Do you think the dealers will tell you that ? :)

P.S. I doubt that record collectors will tell a girlfriend (or wife) how much they paid for stuff they really want. And believe me they pay a lot for rare records. Prices go up every year, but at the end of the day there will be a dealer from the local shop (You die, We buy) with a typical offer of $5 per record for the entire collection and the wife will be like "yeah, fair price" :)

I own about 2500 LPs.  Some guys here own more, some fewer. I own zero collectible 45s or 78s; mine are all 33 rpm long playing records.  Some are more valuable than others, true.  My only point was that the highest possible value of an LP collection such as mine, the amount one might recoup if one were to sell each LP at its max market value, compared to its bargain basement value, the amount one might realize if one sold the entire collection to a dealer at say $5 per LP, is not going to make much difference to an heir.  The difference between the two valuations is not enough to change anyone's life style.  We don't even know the number of LPs left by the deadbeat on the property of the OP, let alone their potential collector value as individual LPs.  If they have been in a garage or an occasionally wet basement for 11 years, all bets are off.
Sorry for the loss of money and friendship...

These lp’s are abandonned for 11 years, they are yours....

Sleep well.....But you want to call back to him.... Then my admiration goes to you for your kindness and absolute moral standing...

My best to you prof....