This title stuff can be easy or hard with the way each of the 50 states here in USA set their own rules. I know I have mentioned it before on this forum but years ago I traded a bike with someone who got the one I wanted from a dealer who had taken the bike in for some repairs. The owner of the bike had died before the bike was fixed. It was parked out back until someone asked about it. Dealer then sold it to this person without a title but did have the name of the owner and the out of state registration information. Bike was registered in Virgina as I recall.
Once I had the bike I contacted the Virginia DMV about how I could get a clear title to the bike and to my surprise it was pretty easy. They gave me the last know address of the owner and I was told to send a certified letter asking for the title to this address. I was told that if the letter came back unopened/not deliverable to then forward to a person at the Virginia DMV with my information and a nominal fee. I did this and after a couple months I was mailed a title from the State of Virginia. There may have been a couple steps I forgot but that was basically all it took.
On the other hand I was given a XS400 many years ago that was titled in NY, my home state, and the BS they expected me to go through was not worth the effort so I ended up selling it along with another XS400 to someone else who I believe was going to be using as a parts bike. Kind of a shame as the bike was complete and running just missing one sheet of paper. But the value of the bike was way less than what it would cost to make it legal in NY!
This is where it gets tricky.
My friend bought the bike at an auction. The owner then mailed him the title that he did not transfer right away. When he finally tried to transfer the title, the previous owner was no longer a dealer. So, in order for him to do anything, he would have to get a duplicate title from that previous owner as a non-dealer.
We have attempted to contact this person several times, but he is not interested in helping.
I'm hoping for the best, but if it doesn't work out, I will have a complete motorcycle to part out.
Thanks for the reply.