Michael Jackson Drops Court Bid to Block Las Vegas Auction

By: Ken Ritter AP
By: Ken Ritter AP

Lawyers for Michael Jackson dropped an effort Friday to block an auction of the pop star's personal belongings and other Jackson family items, including the gold record award for the "Thriller" album and the handwritten lyrics for the 1970 hit "ABC."

Jackson did not appear in person in a Las Vegas court where his
lawyer told a judge that a confidential agreement had been reached
with representatives of an auctioneer, the current owner of the materials, and a New Jersey man who claimed a warehouse full of
Jackson memorabilia after a failed business venture wound up in bankruptcy court.

"The matter's been resolved," Gregory Cross, a lawyer for Jackson, told Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez.

Lawyers declined to describe terms of the agreement, which settled an April 27 lawsuit.

Jackson sought to prevent the auction and force the return of items he claimed were personal property, court documents show. The entertainer also sought unspecified punitive damages.

Universal Express Inc., the Boca Raton, Fla., luggage transportation company that owns the items, claimed the materials were worth about $50 million, according to court records.

Arlan Ettinger, president of Guernsey's auction house of New York, said outside the courtroom that the auction will go on as scheduled May 30-31 at the Hard Rock hotel in Las Vegas.

Included in the auction catalog are Michael Jackson's platinum award for the single "Rock With You," his black silk jacket with gold sequined epaulets and a 1987 contract for the purchase of the Santa Barbara County, Calif., ranch Jackson renamed "Neverland."

Jeffrey Sylvester, a Las Vegas lawyer for Universal, said "very little" of Jackson's personal items would be sold.

The former owner, Henry Vaccaro, took control of the warehouse
full of items in 2006 after reaching a confidential settlement with Janet Jackson, and a Los Angeles judge threw out Michael Jackson's attempt to prevent the transfer.

Vaccaro's lawyer, Edgar Pease III, had claimed during an unsuccessful prosecution of Michael Jackson on child molestation charges that he turned over items from the warehouse in Oxnard, Calif., to the Santa Barbara County district attorney's office that included skin bleach, soiled underwear, sexual videotapes and sexual paraphernalia.

None of those items are in the auction catalog, which contains more than 1,100 items dating from the 1960s, when Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael toured as The Jackson Five. Included are various awards and proclamations; father Joe Jackson's 1971 key to the family's hometown of Gary, Ind.; early black-and-white photographs of family members; sketches and personal notes by Michael Jackson; and a white Kevlar bulletproof vest worn by the "King of Pop" in the 1980s.

Also included are a sketch of a young boy signed by Michael Jackson and dated 1994, stage costumes, microphones, drums, keyboards, and a "lutelike stringed instrument" that the catalog says has African origins.

Jackson, 48, has been living in Las Vegas while he evaluates proposals for a comeback after his June 2005 acquittal in Santa Barbara County.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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