Dispute over Jackson family memorabilia continues in Las Vegas

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Dispute over Jackson family memorabilia continues in Las Vegas LAS VEGAS (AP) – A battle over ownership of Michael Jackson memorabilia is headed back to a Nevada courtroom, where the King of Pop is seeking the return of items withheld from an auction of family items, court documents show. Jackson’s sister, singer Janet Jackson, also is seeking the return of items held back during a May 30-31 memorabilia auction at the Hard Rock hotel-casino in Las Vegas. District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez ordered 60 items impounded at the Clark County courthouse, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Monday, while she sorts out ownership and decides whether to punish the company that brought the items to auction. Gonzalez scheduled a July 16 contempt-of-court trial after deciding June 12 that Universal Express Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla., violated earlier court orders to withhold some of the more than 1,100 items offered at auction, according to the court record. L. Joe Coppedge, a Las Vegas lawyer for New York-based Guernsey’s auction house, said Monday that the auctioneer had no stake in the continuing dispute and was complying with the court order to deliver the contested items. “Per the judge’s order, we have delivered 35 items claimed by Janet Jackson and 23 items claimed by Michael Jackson, with two in transit to Las Vegas,” Coppedge told The Associated Press. Overall auction sales were estimated at more than $1 million, topped by Michael Jackson’s black, military style coat with an “M” crest. Universal reported the jacket fetched $20,400. Michael Jackson items withheld following a last-minute court battle included a steamer trunk of the pop star’s personal effects, his personal collection of Three Stooges photos, sheet music signed by participants in the “We are the World” charity fundraiser, and a piece of Australian aboriginal art that Jackson received in 1987 to mark record sales of his “Thriller” album. Janet Jackson items withheld included the original certificate of her marriage to singer James DeBarge, high school notes, and script pages from her 1984 appearance on the “Diff’rent Strokes” television series. Gonzalez had accepted a confidential settlement May 30 allowing the auction to go forward, but prohibiting Universal Express from “selling, giving, conveying or transferring by any means” the 25 items specified by Michael Jackson’s lawyers. Under the settlement, which had been confidential, Jackson’s lawyers dropped their effort to block the auction. In a June 12 hearing in Las Vegas, the judge ordered the settlement to be enforced, made Janet Jackson a party to the agreement, and ordered Universal Express to pay some of Michael Jackson’s legal expenses. Universal Express lawyer David DeToffol of New York has denied violating Gonzalez’s order, and instructed Guernsey’s to return the items to Universal Express, court records show. DeToffol and a Universal Express lawyer in Las Vegas did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday. In another development, lawyers told Gonzalez that a dispute remained in New Jersey Superior Court over ownership of the items originally stored in an Oxnard, Calif., warehouse. They said several parties had sued New Jersey businessman Henry Vaccaro, who sold the memorabilia to Universal Express in 2006 after a four-year legal battle with Jackson family members. Gonzalez said she would notify the New Jersey court about the items she wanted brought to the Las Vegas courthouse, and said other unsold items could be returned to Universal Express. Source: [url=http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/nevada/2007/jun/25/062510882.html]Las Vegas Sun[/url]

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