Legal Question in Business Law in North Carolina

Problem with a business trying to extort money from me before they will return my property.

I left art at a gallery for them to sell. They never told me they closed the gallery. Now they are trying to extort “storage fees” from me before they will let me pick it up. There was no agreement or even mention of possibly charging storage fees if they closed their gallery. I am considering offering her a ‘gift’ of $250 if she returns the art to me by Oct. 12, as long as it is in the same condition it was when I brought it to her gallery. She is asking me to pay a minimum of $720 up to $1,080. I don’t want her to infer that my ‘gift’ is an admission of me owing her money for storage. I am only considering offering it because it is an expensive piece of art, and I am concerned she might damage it if she doesn’t get any money out of me.

Asked on 10/10/22, 8:23 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Frank Natoli Natoli-Legal, LLC

It seems unlikely that a court would award them a storage fee under these circumstances, but the facts matter. For example, if there were written terms that dicuss this or that outline the timeframes and let's say you just ignored them and never checked in for months and months. Maybe if they can show that they tried to reach you many times with no success, etc. Otherwise, it sounds like unjust enrichment to me.

You might want to just file a claim in the small claims court for roughly the value of the artwork and have your day in court. They may reach out to settle the matter before the case is heard. No lawyer is needed for the small claims court and in NC the max award varies from 5K - 10k.

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Answered on 10/11/22, 9:06 am

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