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Eye On Boise

Finder not keeper of James Castle art found in ceiling of home

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― An Idaho judge says the heirs of artist James Castle are the rightful owners of drawings found in the ceiling of his former home. The Idaho Statesman reports 4th District Judge Deborah Bail ruled Friday that Jeannie Schmidt of Boise must turn over the art she found in her home along with $120,000 she received from selling three pieces while the ownership was being disputed. Bail's ruling says under Idaho law, identifiable mislaid property belongs to the owner or his heirs. Castle's descendants sued Schmidt for about 150 pieces of art and 30 books Castle hid as early as the 1930s. Schmidt argued Castle's nieces told her any artwork she found was hers when she bought the house in 1996. Castle's drawings were made with a sharpened stick dipped in soot and saliva.

“Finders, Keepers” is a playground chant, not a legal doctrine,” Bail wrote in her ruling Friday, reports Idaho Statesman reporter Patrick Orr. “In Idaho, the person entitled to identifiable mislaid property is the owner and his or her heirs, not the finder.” You can read Orr's full report here.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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