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About seven (7) years ago an older friend of mine, Craig, was having living and financial problems. I think he was getting some type of public assistance after he had to move out of his old family house after it was sold. I'd known him since I was 19 and am in my early forties now. I was an up-and-coming DJ/producer of dance music and he was a very powerful and influential promoter and manager of a popular dance music label at the time.

He had a very rare pristine vinyl record collection that all the DJs and producers wanted to get their hands on. The record collection reached mythical proportions.

So my friend told me he had to move out of his apartment and could not afford storage for his records, so I jumped to offer my assistance because I had dreams of being a world class DJ and producer (I still do) and have made good progress over the years with some vinyl releases mostly exported to Europe dance scene. This is a very large record collection, I guess easily over 10,000 records over 100 heavy boxes had to be moved and stored in my bedroom.

After about 2 years my girlfriend told me that I have to do something with all those boxes, they're taking up the whole bedroom, so I told him to take care of them. He wanted to go in and out of the boxes to take records out and record them at my house, but I said no because it would be disruptive to my life and go on and on. We came to an agreement that he could come over and record them from time to time if I could get ownership of them. I bought some large record shelves for more permanent storage because I was under the impression that they were now mine.

Now after 7 years he reached out to me saying he wants the records back, even though I have been storing them for so long and spent a lot of money to do so. Over the years he never said he wanted the records back. He only referred to how some of the records in the collection have gone up in value. Now he says he wants to come to my house and pack everything up personally and anything else I may have got during the move like wall pictures, art, desk, etc.

*** Would like to add his decision to give me the records did not come quick or forced , my girlfriend and Landlord started to complain about me having over 100 boxes in the bedroom for a long time so I had to do and say something . He wanted to have access to the records which could be in any of the 100 plus boxes and going in and out of them presented a mess because the boxes wouldn't sit neat anymore and would start to look like a big mess . He told me the only way he could have access to all the records were if they where put up neatly on record shelfs but I told him that I would only do that if they were mine because I didn't want to display something in my home that wasn't mine . He had every right to take them and I did not rush him at all . And I remember destinctily him telling me a story that his close record collecting friend said to him that he should just give me the records , and I thought wow thats cool for him to share that with me and maybe he will give them to me , I didn't know for sure , them He told me I can have the records and he was going to come over and set me up with them and he told me to take care of them . I wasn't sure if he would give them to me because he asked me before if he could move in with me but I said no , I don't think thats a good idea so I thought maybe he was unhappy at me because of that .

How can I ask him to honor his agreement to not take back the gift he gave me so many years ago without causing a big fight?

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    We came to an agreement that he could come over and record them from time to time if I could get ownership of them was there ever any written or otherwise documented form of this agreement? – Link0352 Apr 18 '18 at 17:04
  • @Link0352 no nothing was ever written I wish it was , only a video of him saying it's time for him to let the records go to me and if anything ever happend to him he wanted people to know he gave it to me . Don't know if thats worth anything but nothing on paper . But I believed it to be very well understood . – Solomon Apr 18 '18 at 17:21
  • Your additional information makes it sound as if the shelving project (even if it was in your home) was his idea and he coordinated it? – Peter Abolins Apr 20 '18 at 9:29
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    @Solomon What is more important to you, keeping the friendship or the vinyls? I think this changes the approach you should take. – QEDemonstrandum Apr 20 '18 at 11:00
  • Extremely similar situation involving video camera: interpersonal.stackexchange.com/questions/12420/… The answers on that question might be relevant to your situation. – English Student Apr 23 '18 at 17:36
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No one likes it when someone reneges a gift, especially one of this magnitude. The magnitude, both of the cost in time, effort, and money to you as well as the cost of the records to him, is what makes this particular problem difficult. Your friend really put you in a difficult situation by dumping all of his stuff onto you for such a long time, making it seem (agreement or no) that that stuff belonged to you (possession is 9/10ths of the law). Unfortunately, that is all in the past and you can't change it, so we need to look at the future.

Approach the conversation with a tone of compromise.

Understand that in his eyes those records still belong to him, and are very valuable both emotionally and financially. Let him know that you have become attached to them because you kept them for so long. Also point out that you have spent money to make space for them for a very long time, and that he shouldn't ignore that fact. Try to come to an arrangement that is mutually beneficial even if it means you don't get everything.

Forget your gentlemen's agreement.

Your friend told you the records were yours, but obviously he feels differently now. Unless you want to make a legal claim for ownership, it is best that you move past this fact and forget that whole conversation. Focus on the current situation, which is that you have spent a lot of time and money (don't forget rent for the space that his property has been occupying). Try to understand each other now and don't become too hung up on what he said in the past.

  • To be clear I'm not asking for legal advice , I know thats not allowed . The problem is let's say it's to much of a headach and I decide to give them back , he can then claim that several records are missing and come after me for that except this time he would be in possesion which is 9/10ths of the Law as you say and put me on the defensive . – Solomon Apr 19 '18 at 0:17
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    "In his eyes those records belong to him" - This is quite important, considering the time, personal motivations and the way memory works it is quite probable that you both very confidently remember this transaction happening in two entirely different ways. – Jesse Apr 19 '18 at 0:36
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My experience in a similar situation, where a roommate left belongings behind, dictates that you should keep the records if you want to. Unless you value the previous owner as a friend. In that case just calculate the cost of climate-controlled storage for 7 years. Tell him if he wants the records, he has to pay for storage and related costs.

I think this is a good answer because it is an equitable solution to both parties, and, in my experience, it is the path taken in arbitration of such cases as yours. In the absence of written documentation, verbal agreements are valid.

If neither party provides written proof of ownership, and no crime has been committed, whoever physically possesses the items is the legal owner.

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    Hey, thanks for the answer! Can you please explain exactly why you think that this is a good idea? Why do you say to take this course of action? What’s the thought process behind this answer? As this currently stands, this is essentially a “Try this!” answer. We require that answers provide some sort of explanation for why they are suggesting this solution, and unfortunately, at the moment this answer doesn't appear to do that. – Kaspar Scherrer Apr 19 '18 at 6:53
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    Could you explain how the poster would charge for storage when there never was a contract saying that the storage wouldn't be free? And could you explain what the poster should do if the police arrests him for theft? Which is a distinct possibility, since he has absolutely no valid legal claim to the records. – gnasher729 Apr 19 '18 at 20:07
  • He does have a legal claim. In the absence of written documents, verbal agreements stand. And, neither party can prove the records belong to him. In that event, whoever is in possession of the items is the owner. – Awesome Apr 19 '18 at 20:59
  • Comments on this site have no guarantee of staying around. Please edit your question to include all relevant information. – sphennings Apr 19 '18 at 21:04
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    If both parties assert the items belong him, and there is no way to prove different, the one in possession is the legal owner. If my neighbor says, "That shovel belongs to me. You borrowed it." And I say, "No I didn't. It belongs to me." If the police get involved, and no further evidence is presented, it belongs to me. – Awesome Apr 22 '18 at 3:33
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Did you get any benefit at all out of this transaction? You mentioned that you initially offered to store the records, because it would feed into your dream of becoming a world-class DJ.

If you did get some benefit of being the curator of this sought-after collection, then that sort of cancels out the hardship and cost of storage over the years.

The complication is then the gentleman's agreement that the records belong to you, because you have been storing them. As has been said, any agreement like this which involves valuables, should be formally ratified with a document, to avoid drama down the track.

The question really boils down to whether you want to keep the records or not. Would losing the collection damage your reputation or dreams? If not, then you can return them and let his karma sort out the integrity issues of reclaiming a gift.

I have been looking after the records for seven years, and as we discussed five years ago, they technically belong to me now. While I would have cared for the records regardless, believing that they were mine meant that I spent more effort and money on ensuring that they were all stored properly and kept in good condition. Your request to have all the records returned to you has quite frankly come as a bit of a shock, but if you, in spite of our agreement, want me to return the records to you, then I will.

I personally wouldn't go down the path of losing a friend over a record collection. But, I do think he needs to realize that just waltzing in after five years of the records being yours and asking for them to be returned, is not okay.

The problem is let's say it's too much of a headache and I decide to give them back, he can then claim that several records are missing and come after me for that ...

If several records are indeed missing, then that is a different problem, and one you would raise with him if you decide to return the record collection to him. Realistically, he cannot afford to be petty about the transaction, because had you not offered to look after the collection in the first place, it is likely that it wouldn't have survived seven years.

EDIT

He told me I can have the records and he was going to come over and set me up with them and he told me to take care of them

This doesn't seem like he was parting with the records forever. Why would he ask you to take care of them, and why would he assist you with setting them all up [on shelves] if they were now your records?

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Let's first try and see if from your friend's point of view.

"he had to move out of his apartment and could not afford storage for his records, so I jumped to offer my assistance"

The original agreement you made was not for you to assume ownership of the records. You offered to assist with the storage of his records, and you did that for 2 years without question. During that time there was no question that he owned the records.

"After about 2 years my girlfriend told me that I have to do something with all those boxes, they're taking up the whole bedroom, so I told him to take care of them."

So 2 years into the original agreement you asked him to "take care" of the records which presumably could have included taking them back. Again, at this point you still understood and accepted that they belonged to him despite the fact you had stored them for 2 years without question or charge.

"He wanted to go in and out of the boxes to take records out and record them at my house, but I said no because it would be disruptive to my life and go on and on. We came to an agreement that he could come over and record them from time to time if I could get ownership of them."

So his initial request was to have easy access to the records so he could make recordings of them, but after negotiation you eventually agreed that he would only get much more limited access to the records at times convenient to you AND only if you took ownership of them.

It would be very easy to side with you on this - you appear to have been very generous in your original offer to store these records for free; your request that his coming and going to get the records doesn't cause disruption also seems reasonable, and he does appear to be going back on a verbal agreement. But it does seem that you got a very good deal out of this while your friend lost out.

I accept that the storage has been something of an inconvenience to you but it is difficult for you to argue the storage itself has cost you anything financially when you did that for 2 years for free. As far as I can see the only tangible cost to you is some shelving.

Also, you do not mention whether or not your friend has managed to access all of his records over the last 5 years since this secondary agreement. If he hasn't, then arguably you have not kept your side of it. Did you include in your agreement a "reasonable" amount of time for him to complete the task? Five years ought to have been plenty of time, and as your ownership hinged on his getting reasonable access to these records, if he hasn't had that then arguably the agreement is void.

Your IPS question is how can I ask him to honor his agreement to not take back the gift he gave me so many years ago without causing a big fight?

I don't believe you can avoid a fight - not if you both take up a contrary position on the validity of this second agreement. Giving you some suggested words to state your position won't really help as your friend clearly has a contrary position. He already disagrees with you.

Your best chance is to highlight the second agreement you made and hope that as a friend he is prepared to honour that. The likelihood is that he knows very well what you spoke about and has come to consider it unfair. You are going to have to talk this over, whether that constitutes a reasonable discussion or a "fight" will depend on how you both approach it.

  • I think your take on the negotiations is strange. perhaps the OP could clarify if the original owner ever proposed to take the records away at that point or just wanted to use the OP's home at his convenience. There is a vast difference if the OP refused to let him remove the records and if the OO refused to take them away... – Spagirl Apr 19 '18 at 12:46
  • @Spagirl It's a matter of perspective. The OP is all about enforcing the second agreement which is clearly in his favour - it gives him a valuable collection of rare vinyl. He is quick to say that the original agreement which was clearly in his friend's favour was unfair because his girlfriend didn't like the records lying around (although she is fine with them on a shelf). If he is to achieve his goal of "no argument" he has to see the other point of view. – Astralbee Apr 19 '18 at 13:04
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    @Astralbee I just can't interpret this answer as other than making judgement and some assumption, which I understood we aimed to avoid. Perhaps it would be worth me raising a question about that as a general question on meta and using this as one example, if that's cool with you. – Spagirl Apr 19 '18 at 13:36
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Let's play Judge Judy: Your soon-to-be-ex-friend purchased the records. You don't have a written contract that you would be paid to store them. Actually, there is no verbal contract that you would be paid to store them. That's because you offered to store them for free. Which was nice of you, but doesn't give you any rights to the collection.

You don't have a written contract that the records are yours. The verbal concession that you got about ownership is close to blackmail in my book. But anyway, you have nothing in writing.

You have no choice other than returning them. If you refuse, you could very easily be accused of theft. But most likely this would end up in court. I see no way how you could convince a court that the collection is yours. I see no indication whatsoever that your friend ever intended to gift the collection to you. To me, it looks like you were trying to exploit your friends position and get hold of his record collection. That isn't going to end without a big fight.

  • He was given a choose and chance to take them and he choose not to of free will . He choose to give them to me . According to your Logic if he showed up 50 years later I still would not have a claim . Once he gave them to me I bought furniture for them that he personally set up records in , in my home . Not once did he mention I want them back after we set them up for years afterward . I gave him access to them for very long time in my home . My landlord and girlfriend started to complain about the boxes so I had to do and say something . – Solomon Apr 20 '18 at 5:26
  • Well no, you wouldn't have a claim. If this goes to court, the judge will say "please show us the contract where it says that you get paid for storing the records", and "please show us the contract where it says the records are yours". – gnasher729 Apr 20 '18 at 21:22
  • I can understand if you don't want to store the records anymore, in that case if your friend can't store them, he should put an advertisement in the newspaper and sell the collection. – gnasher729 Apr 20 '18 at 21:25
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Other answers focus on telling you that your friend has some ethical/moral rights to the collection. But that's not what you asked.

Sit down with your friend, preferably in a neutral place like a coffee shop. Go through the timeline with him - don't accuse and don't embellish. Don't mention the shelves you bought. The goal is to go through the entire timeline in one shot without any statement that starts an argument. Use a completely neutral tone, even more so than you did in your question.

End with stating that you were under the impression that these were your records since [date]. Tell him you are willing to discuss this, but you need to know what changed.

During the discussion that follows, you can bring up more details. If he tries to tell his own version of the timeline, focus on not interrupting him.

Make clear that you won't make the decision during the discussion, and that you will have to sleep on it - that is to prevent emotions making the decision for you.

  • "Make clear that you won't make the decision during the discussion" - I don't like this. From the original owner's viewpoint this sounds like OP is saying "I haven't decided yet whether I'm going to steal your records"... – AndyT Apr 20 '18 at 9:18
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Looking at it from outside as an emotionally detached third party, it is clear to me that (sad but true) the record collection belongs to your friend, since you didn't purchase it from him and he obviously does not remember giving it to you as a gift, and still considers you its caretaker, which is why

now he says he wants to come to my house and pack everything up personally and anything else I may have got during the move like wall pictures, art, desk, etc.

The fact that the records belong to him puts you at a distinct disadvantage in this matter, although your friend was extremely lucky that you could help him retain the collection.

So approach him gracefully says I, not to persuade him to give up ownership of the collection, but to convince him to give you continued access to the records in the same way that you stored them all these years and enabled him to access them whenever he wanted to.

If you are more concerned about permanently saving the musical material in that collection (which is what I would be concerned about, seeing that the discs don't belong to me), especially if you think he is likely to sell the discs without consulting with you in future, then you can consider asking your friend to allow you to record everything or only selected discs, either on vinyl or as digital files, which is your moral right for having saved his collection when he could have lost it all. This is a compromise solution that your friend might readily agree to, as long as you are willing to not dispute the ownership of the records.

A calm, friendly and neutrally-toned discussion with your friend will help you to understand his views and convey your points without any emotional accusations from either side, so that the two of you can remain friends and work out a mutually satisfactory solution.

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