ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Jeremy Telman
Oklahoma City University
School of Law

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Of Ming Dynasty Bowls and Chelsea Doors

Ever since we broke the news of a man who bought a man who bought a valuable 15th-century bowl for $35 (by linking to stories about the incident), the Internet has picked up on the story and its happy conclusion, with a sale of the bowl for over $700,000 at auction.  We posed the non-musical question of whether the doctrine of mistake would apply.  Probably not.

Chelsea Hotel By Velvet
Photo Credit: Velvet 
CC BY-SA 3.0

Friend of the blog John Wladis reminds us of the similar and yet strikingly different case of the Chelsea doors.  According to this account, Jim Georgiou, a former resident of the Chelsea Hotel, went into the hotel as it was being renovated to use the restroom.  He noticed that the workers were discarding the old doors, which frankly appear unspectacular.  But Georgiou knew that famous artists and celebrities had stayed in the rooms concealed behind those doors, so he rescued them, connected the doors to the celebrities, and then arranged to have them sold at auction, where they fetched over $400,000.  Georgiou, who was homeless at the time that he salvaged the doors, shared half the proceeds with City Harvest, which helps feed the indigent in the city.  

The New York Times had a fine piece on the unique status of the hotel and the significance of the doors as souvenirs from various cultural moments now swept away by the currents of history.  Perhaps the lucky yard-sale enthusiast will be inspired by Georgiou's example and donate some of the proceeds from his find to a worthy cause . . . .

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On the other side of the coin, for out-and-out villainy, it's hard to surpass the bad actors involved in Wood v. Boynton:

Posted by: Otto Stockmeyer | Mar 24, 2021 6:37:04 AM