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.

what if you just find it and RETURN THE PLATES FOR FREE? - if the person who has not deceived you, then maybe the universe will appreciate it and somehow reward it later ...

But if you are a non-believer, just contact the local mafia and these guys, for 50% of the amount, will find and take your debt ...
music - listen to music yourself or give it to children for music lovers for free.

(with this post you publicly admitted the fact of transferring property to you on bail ... in court it will be against you)
11 years ?  That is past the statute of limitations in the US.  Did you document the loan ?  Did "John" sign a promissory note, or in any way provide a document to show that he borrowed money from you ?  Did you create a storage agreement when he asked to store LPs in your basement ?   I suspect the answer is no. Thus it is one word against another.  I suspect he knew what he left behind, but also knew that he did not pay you from the proceeds of his home sale.  If he was a collector of any degree, he KNEW exactly where those records were stored, and made a decision not to retrieve them so he would not be confronted by you asking for your money.   Open the boxes and enjoy the LPs, then sell what you don't like/want.   If you live in a good size metro area, you likely have local buyers that will pay you a fair price for individual LPs.
I am a lawyer, Though in California. The law should be similar. You are in the wonderful world of “bailments”. When a party deposits property with another, an ailment is created. Look on any private parking ticket and it’ll say no bailment is created this is a license to park.  That’s because there are special conditions in a bailment.  You have the bailee and the bailor. Look up the obligations of both on Google.   Chances are there is a time limit, or statute of limitations.  After 11 years it may be way past, and may release you from any obligations to him.  Check to make sure there is no notice requirement for you to tell him he needs to pick em up to start the statute of limitation running.  Listening to Beethoven’s 3rd an 4 th while writing on my new vandersteen Quatro wood CT’s. Sound like  I’m actually at the concert.  Amazing accurate sound.  Highly recommend.  Good luck

Excuse my many spelling and grammatical errors. 
This thread has officially been done to death. Enough already.