A Tucson guitar shop is being sued by the estate of Jimi Hendrix over the ownership of a guitar previously owned by Hendrix. The shop owner claims to have bought the guitar, valued at between $750K and $1 million, from an individual who obtained it from Sheldon Reynolds, the former husband of Hendrix’s sister. The estate claims that the shop does not have title to the guitar because the guitar was stolen by Reynolds. The estate also claims that the guitar is priceless to the Hendrix family.
1. Under Ohio law, a thief can obtain “voidable title” which means that he owns the property until the legitimate owner claims it. However, once the thief transfers the property to a purchaser who is unaware that the property is stolen, the purchaser becomes the lawful owner.
2. If this were an Ohio case, the guitar shop owner would have valid title to the guitar no matter how Sheldon Reynolds obtained it before selling it – whether through gift from his wife (doubtful) or from his 14 year old step-son giving it to him by mistake (less doubtful) or simply taking it – because the shop obtained it from a third party who was unaware it was stolen.
3. In spite of the family’s claim that the guitar is priceless to them, I suspect it is really worth $750K to $1 million to them.