A federal judge has temporarily blocked an auction house from selling basketball great Kobe Bryant's jerseys, championship rings and other memorabilia worth up to $1 million in a case stemming from a dispute between the Los Angeles Laker and his mother.
The All-Star guard has asked the courts to halt the sale of his belongings, which are in possession of his mother, Pamela Bryant, saying he had not been consulted and only learned of the sale in a press release issued by Goldin Auctions.
"Although Pamela Bryant maintained possession of certain of plaintiff's personal property for benefit of plaintiff, he never granted his mother ownership of that property, nor the right to co-sign such property for auction," an attorney for Bryant said in a May 6 complaint filed in a California court.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford in Santa Ana, Calif., on May 8 issued a temporary restraining order blocking the sale until a scheduled May 13 hearing.
Goldin Auctions, which has filed a suit to have the June sale move forward, said Bryant's mother contacted the company in December with an offer to sell the items, including her son's Lower Merion High School jersey and six rings, one of which is his 2000 Lakers championship ring.
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Bryant's mother allegedly told the auction house that the memorabilia had been in her possession for 15 years and that her son had told her five years ago the items belonged to her, according to court papers filed by Goldin Auctions.
The auction house said it wired a $450,000 advance to Bryant's parents, Pamela and Joseph. The items were legally obtained, Goldin Auctions's lawyers said on Friday.
Pamela Bryant "provided certificates of authenticity and attested in a sworn affidavit to their lawful ownership," said attorney Jeffrey Cohen.
"Goldin Auctions has already issued a substantial monetary advance for these items and is only interested in proceeding with its legal right to conduct its business without further interference.
A lawyer for Kobe Bryant, Mark Campbell, said in a statement that, "Mr. Bryant's personal property has ended up in the possession of someone who does not lawfully own it.
We look forward to resolving this legal matter through the legal system."
(Reuters - David Jones)