Monday, January 16, 2012

Stradivarius, Doyle, and the Restatement

Law school exams are notorious for predicating questions about the legal ramifications of certain acts on events from the news, films, or literature, not infrequently amplified to provide more shocking details. It appears that the editors of the Restatement (Second) of Torts were not above showing their professorial stripes.
6. A is a violin expert. He pays a casual visit to B's shop, where second-hand musical instruments are sold. He finds a violin which, by reason of his expert knowledge and experience, he immediately recognizes as a genuine Stradivarius, in good condition and worth at least $50,000. The violin is priced for sale at $100. Without disclosing his information or his identity, A buys the violin from B for $100. A is not liable to B.
Restatement (Second) of Torts § 551 cmt. k, illus. 6.

We had a pleasant little meal together, during which Holmes would talk about nothing but violins, narrating with great exultation how he had purchased his own Stradivarius, which was worth at least five hundred guineas, at a Jew broker's in Tottenham Court Road for fifty-five shillings. This led him to Paganini, and we sat for an hour over a bottle of claret while he told me anecdote after anecdote of that extraordinary man. The afternoon was far advanced and the hot glare had softened into a mellow glow before we found ourselves at the police-station. Lestrade was waiting for us at the door.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box" in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894).