One man owns two of the only very expensive stamps in the world. Let us say each stamp was worth a million dollars. A second man comes along and destroys stamp one. The catch is that now according to the new value the one stamp is worth more than two million, meaning the owner had a zero net loss and even had a net gain.

Is the person who destroyed stamp one responsible to pay? If so, how much? Or does the owner of the stamps have to pay him for the extra value his stamp now has?

(sources please)

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    How about if someone breaks something where the owner is insured, is that not the same question? In both cases at the end of the day the owner does not take a financial loss. – CB01 Jan 24 '12 at 22:11
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    If I remember correctly, if you cause damage, you pay based on the value of the object at the time the damage was caused. – Shmuel May 18 '14 at 18:15
  • Somewhat similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/90618 – msh210 Mar 23 '18 at 5:44
  • Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/90810 – msh210 Mar 29 '18 at 16:34

There's a famous analysis of the two stamp question attributed to R. Chaim Soloveitchik - it's cited here, albeit without any source.

Reb Chaim Soloveitchik raised the following question regarding this scenario - there only exists two of a certain type of stamp and they both belong to one individual. Since two of these stamps exist, they are each worth $50. If there would only be one of them in the world, it would be worth $100. If someone were to destroy one of the stamps, would he be obligated to pay the owner or would we say that since there was technically no loss of money – as the remaining stamp increased in value – he is not obligated to pay?

Initially, Reb Chaim said that it is dependent on the question that we mentioned earlier. If the obligation to pay, when one damages, is to reimburse the owner for his loss, then in this case where there was no loss one need not pay anything. However, if one is obligated to replace an item that he damaged, and if he is unable to replace it he must then pay for it, then in this case that finds him unable to replace the item he should be obligated to pay for it.

Reb Chaim then said that even if the obligation of someone who damaged is to replace the broken item, he is only obligated when there is a loss. If there is no loss whatsoever, he is not a mazik (damager), and would thus not be responsible. Therefore, if the remaining stamp is worth less than the combined value of both stamps (less than $100) – namely that the owner incurred a loss – he is considered a mazik, and will therefore be obligated to replace the stamp at full cost.


No sources, but some logic.

Damages paid are the difference in value (fair market value) to the damaged object.

Here, the individual stamp is worth far less, while the collection of stamps is worth more. So if one considers the stamp as the object damaged, the tortfeasor is liable; if one considers the collection, he's not.

More than that I can't guess at.

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    We are in the frame of Halacha logic does not always work – simchastorah Oct 9 '11 at 13:06
  • @simchashatorah, right. If I had more daas tora, I could apply logic with confidence. Since I don't, my use of logic may be faulty even though I see nothing wrong with it. – msh210 Oct 9 '11 at 14:05
  • I meant that Halacha does not comply woiith logic like in this example judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/9740/… no one thinks it should be potur – simchastorah Oct 9 '11 at 14:33
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    Logically, though (and again, I don't have any source either), you should consider the individual objects rather than the collection. Previously, he could have sold each stamp individually, and might have been more easily able to find buyers for each one; now, he needs to find someone who's willing to pay $2 million+ for the one stamp. – Alex Oct 9 '11 at 15:14

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