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MMD > Archives > August 2007 > 2007.08.14 > 04Prev  Next

Current Value of Unfinished Player Restoration
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  I appeal to the wisdom of those in the group who may have
information that's relative to the realistic value of a 5'2" Aeolian
Duo-Art reproducing grand that had the Duo-Art system restored just
over ten years ago.  It must also be known that the reproducing system
was _never_ used after it was restored, and that it's current condition
is questionable.  Furthermore, the owner decided to refinish the piano
himself but stopped after he finished stripping all the pieces and
staining and sealing the main cabinet.  As such, the condition of the
parts that were stripped ten years ago is unknown at this point in time.

As a side note, my question is related to the postings I sent in about
1-1/2 months ago regarding two instruments that had gone unclaimed
after 8 and 10 years respectively.  [ See "Limit of Liability ...",
indexed at ]

As it so happens, I accidentally found the phone number of a person
whom I thought might be related to the deceased owner.  So, I made
a call.  Though she wasn't there, I was told that a message would be
given to her.  Today she called me and, as one might expect, there are
two different recollections of what was suppose to transpire after the
untimely death of the owner.

Mind you, as I believe I wrote in a follow-up to my initial posting,
I did as my lawyer and others suggested and sent a certified letter
(with specific terms) to the owner's mother's last known address.  That
letter was returned as undeliverable, no forwarding address available.

So, now comes the matter of how to resolve the situation.  Even using
the numbers from ten years ago, there's still over $4000 worth of work
that needs to be done before the instrument is back in one piece.  The
deceased owner already paid me $5500 for the complete restoration of
the Duo-Art system, the installation of new hammers and shanks, the
regulation of the action, the purchase and initial cutting of a new pin
block, the cleaning and refinishing of the soundboard and reconditioning
of the plate, and the purchase of the new bass strings and nickel-plated
tuning pins.

It was at that point that I required more money to continue with the
boring of the block and the restringing of the piano.  And, with no money
forthcoming, I stopped working, figuring that when they were ready,
they'd call me. ... They never called, and, as I was led to believe
that no one in the family had an interest in the piano, I didn't press
the matter.

My attorney has suggested that I make an out of court settlement if it
looks like they want to take the matter to court.  As he put it, you
can offer them some money to go away or pay me to represent you.  Either
way it's going to cost you...  And, assuming that the realistic value
of such an instrument is probably about the same (or maybe less) as
what it will cost the family to finish the job, they'd make out better
if they kept the $1500 that's supposedly in the bank and earmarked for
work on the piano (which sounds odd, doesn't it?) and I gave them some
money to get the rest of the parts of the piano (the legs, lyre, top,
music desk, cheek blocks, etc.)

Any help or advice on this matter will be much appreciated.

John A Tuttle
Brick, New Jersey, USA

P.S. Considering that there is $1500 in the bank that's 'earmarked'
for work on the piano, one has to wonder how much longer they would
have waited before trying to contact me?  I'm certainly not hard to
find.  Her claim was, 'time goes by so fast...', and then she started
getting emotional...

(Message sent Mon 13 Aug 2007, 20:10:59 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Current, Player, Restoration, Unfinished, Value

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