Title

Adverse Possession of Art

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

12-6-2021

Abstract

Some cases and commentators have argued that the doctrine of adverse possession, which gives title to a long-term possessor of property, should not be applied to personal property, especially to artworks. This article examines California law, and concludes that it is impossible to determine whether adverse possession applies to personality or not. It then looks at the doctrine, policy and practicalities of the statute of limitations, laches and adverse possession. It concludes that most objection to the application of adverse possession is in fact objection to the application of the statute of limitations; that as a theoretical matter, once suit is barred by the statute of limitations, the application of adverse possession is appropriate, but adverse possession seems less important to successful litigants for personal property than it does for realty because there are few effective gatekeepers for personality.

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