Hello everyone,

I require some advice in regards to my fathers paintings.

Around 12 years ago my dad rented a converted barn to use as his art studio. He is a talented artist and after the death of my mother he found painting to be a break from reality and spent many days, weeks and months producing some beautiful pieces. After renting the barn for a couple of years he decided he could no longer travel to the studio as regularly and that he could no longer rent the barn.

Many of the painting are quite large and were hanging on the walls of the barn. When my father was organising the storage of the paintings the owner of the barn offered to look after them until my father was ready to collect them. There was no written contract in place in regards to storage charges, the owner of the barn was always a keen admirer of the paintings and they looked great on the walls of his converted barn. (More about this later)

A few years passed and my father had tried to contact the barn owner a couple of times and left voicemail messages as i had offered to store the paintings for him. However the owner never returned his calls and my father gave up. This has been playing on my mind for quite a while and I asked my father for the contact details of the barn owner to see if I could arrange collection of my dads paintings. I tried calling twice and didn't get a reply so I took it upon myself to visit the barn owner and ask him in person. After i explained to him who i was and why i was at his front door he started to behave very awkwardly, making it difficult for me to obtain any information about my dads paintings. He asked me to leave him a business card and he would contact me in due course to discuss.

A couple of weeks passed and i hadn't heard anything so I called him and text him. He then replied saying that he had been very busy and hadn't had anytime to think about the best course of action to take. He came back to me via email stating:

1. He needed an original copy of my "power of attorney" to act on my fathers behalf (I have no problem with this)
2. To advise him how my father is (No problem with this)
3. He stated that he had a very long standing "duty of care" over the paintings and he looked after them as a "bailee" He then asked for a legal contract to be drawn up for him handing my fathers paintings back.
4. He asked for me to agree to cover the legal costs.
5. He then asked me to agree to paying rent for providing the "Duty of care" over the years. He also said as far as he can see they are in tip top condition.

I replied to him stating that I am not prepared to agree to anything until I have seen the condition of my fathers paintings and take an inventory. He declined, stating that he would take photos of the paintings but I cannot come and see them.

In short the owner of the barn is asking for me to pay over £10,000 plus legal fees to collect my dads paintings. My concerns are as follows:

1. He won't let me view the paintings.
2. He won't meet with me to discuss in person as adults
3. There is no contract between my father and the barn owner, the barn owner said that he liked my dads paintings and he would look after them until my father was ready to collect.
4. The barn has been used for functions, events, parties and glamping. While he was renting the space to people my fathers paintings have been hanging on the walls inside the barn for all of his guests to see. Therefore increasing his revenue and desirability over the period. I have proof of this saved on my computer from youtube videos and photos posted online.
5. It seems that he is being as difficult as he can, i have offered him a painting as a thank you and even offered to pay him some cash if my father sells a painting. I am trying to be amicable but he is becoming very hard to talk to and work with.
6. My father tried to contact him on numerous occasions and left voicemails over the years to try and retrieve his paintings.

He has now stated that if nothing is sorted out by the new year he will talk to his lawyers as he doesn't want this "duty of care" hanging around his neck any longer. It seems to me like 1. He wants to make as much money out of this situation as possible 2. He wants me to back down so he can keep the paintings for himself.

I really need some advice on this if possible please. My father spent so much time on these paintings and he would love them back. I promised him I would do my very best to get them back but the barn owner has decided to make things a lot harder than they need to be.

What is my best course of action and does he have any right to behave like this?

Kind Regards