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05-21-07, 09:07 PM #1
Wacko Jacko's personal possessions auctioned...contains sick shit
Despite reports to the contrary, the erstwhile King of Pop did not turn up in a Las Vegas court Friday to try to stop an auction of his personal possessions and some Jackson family souvenirs.
Jackson's publicist issued a statement refuting speculation that the singer was going to appear before Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez to personally protest the firesale.
Instead, Jackson attorney Gregory Cross appeared in the courtroom to tell Gonzalez that Jackson and Universal Express had reached an agreement to settle a suit the Gloved One filed Apr. 27. Terms were kept confidential, although a lawyer for Universal Express indicated some contested items were removed.
A spokeswoman for Guernsey's auction house of New York, which is handling the auction, said the sale will proceed as scheduled on May 30-31 at Vegas' Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
The singer had sought a temporary injunction to halt the auction as well as punitive damages against Universal Express, a luggage transportation firm based in Boca Raton, Florida. The company received a cache of 20,000 Jackson family items from Henry Vacaro, a New Jersey construction owner and onetime Jackson partner, as part of a bankruptcy case last year.
Vacaro scored the mementos to resolve a separate case against Michael's parents, Katherine and Joe Jackson, and brothers Tito and Jermaine in 2002. Vacaro was awarded ownership of a warehouse full of family belongings.
Universal Express estimates the value of the stash to be worth about $50 million, and the company planned to put about 1,000 pieces of memorabilia up for bid.
The lot featres stage costumes (including one of Michael's signature sequined jackets), musical instruments, sketches and personal notes, handwritten lyrics for the Jackson 5 hit "ABC," early black and white photos of family members, a bullet-proof vest Michael wore in the 1980s, his platinum award for the 1979 single "Rock with You," gold records (including one for Thriller) and a 1987 contract for the purchase of Neverland.
Richard Altomare, CEO of Universal Express, did not comment on Friday's development. However, he earlier told the New York Post that if Jackson pressed his legal action, Altomare would include some potentially embarrassing memorabilia withheld from the auction, notably "salacious" artwork that could dredge up memories of the Moonwalker's 2005 child-molestation trial, which ended in his acquittal.
"There are a couple of paintings Jackson made of children, of boys—naked. And there are some of his whitening creams, some sex aids...some of the old records in his sealed [sexual molestation] court case," Altomare said.
"This is stuff we have kept from the auction out of respect to Mr. Jackson. The guy has troubles. We all have skeletons in the closet and, if Michael hadn't put up a fuss, I might have quietly, discreetly, just given it to him. I'm a gentleman...but if he pisses me off, I may end up auctioning them."
Altomare seemed to be spoiling for a fight going into Friday. It was his company that was responsible for spreading the rumors that Jackson would be attending the hearing.
"Mr. Jackson will be questioned by Universal Express attorneys and asked to identify items, as our witnesses and documentation stands ready for exposure. I trust Mr. Jackson is equally prepared," Altomare said in a press release issued Thursday.
Jackson, 48, has reportedly been considering Sin City as the site of his U.S. comeback, perhaps launching a Celine Dion-style residency.
Meanwhile, with one lawsuit down, another could soon be settled.
A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge has ordered Jackson's current legal team to attempt to work out a deal with his former firm over unpaid bills.
The Torrance-based law offices of Ayscough & Marar sued the music icon last July, claiming he failed to pony up $216,000 in legal fees for work done in 2005 in a variety of civil cases, as well as shielding documents regarding his child molestation case from public view.
Jackson filed a countersuit the following month, claiming the firm was attempting to force him into involuntary bankruptcy by threatening to release confidential information. Jackson is not required to attend the mediation.
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