Judge Rules In Favor Of Julien's Auction House In Jackson Memorabilia Suit
(CNS) Posted Monday April 4, 2011 – 2:50pm
A jury today rejected a lawsuit in which a collector of celebrity memorabilia maintained that a Los Angeles auction house broke a contract to sell him 14 items that belonged to Michael Jackson.
The Los Angeles Superior Court panel deliberated for a half-hour Friday afternoon and part of this morning before finding in favor of Julien's Auction House and against collector Richard LaPointe.
The auction, which would have been the largest authorized sale of items associated with Jackson, was aborted in April 2009 after the singer reached a separate legal settlement in his own legal dispute with Julien's Auction House.
Jackson died two months later at age 50.
The items that were to be auctioned off included Jackson's large collection of antiques, decorative arts, costumes, music awards and other items that were once housed in his Neverland estate in Santa Barbara County.
LaPointe, of Quebec, Canada, filed suit against the auction house and founder Darren Julien in October 2009, claiming ownership of items he bid for online ahead of the auction.
They included a replica classic automobile used by Jackson to provide transportation to celebrity guests at Neverland.
LaPointe sought $306,600 in damages.
His attorney, Nicholas Hornberger, said the jury was unable to find a contract existed between his client and Julien's.
He also said current contract law has not kept up with the advent of the Internet and online bidding.
Hornberger said he is considering an appeal.
"We're disappointed, but this may not be the end of it," Hornberger said.
Julien's attorney, Miles Feldman, said the lawsuit should never have been brought and that the verdict was "a complete vindication of my clients."
Despite the distraction of the lawsuit, he expects Julien's to move on "and have an amazing year," he said.
During final arguments Friday, Hornberger said Julien was untruthful when he testified that the singer could pull items from the bidding.
Hornberger maintains the auction was "no reserve" in nature, meaning the highest bidder could claim each item without the possibility it could be removed from sale by
But Feldman said in his rebuttal argument that none of the Jackson items were explicitly listed in the bidding agreement as automatically available to the highest bidder.
Feldman also criticized LaPointe for asking for a six-figure award when his bids totaled $6,200.
In reality, the collector never spent anything because the live auction was canceled by Jackson and his adviser, Tohme Tohme, after the singer changed his mind about selling, Feldman said.
But according to Hornberger, $306,600 was the amount a memorabilia evaluator estimated the items would be worth on the market had LaPointe been able to buy them.
Hornberger also alleged Julien intentionally interfered with a contract LaPointe formed with Jackson when he made his bids, but the jury also rejected that claim.
Hornberger said Julien's received about $3.5 million in a settlement of the previous lawsuit.
However, Feldman said Julien's used the money to recover expenses in setting up the auction.
LaPointe also sued the Jackson estate and settled with the singer's executors before trial. The accord will allow him to buy other items among the 80-plus pieces he bid on, Hornberger said.
LaPointe began collecting items when he was a young boy in the 1960s after seeing the Beatles on the The Ed Sullivan Show, Hornberger said.http://www.bhcourier.com/article/Local_News/Local_News/Judge_Rules_In_Favor_Of_Juliens_Auction_House_In_Jackson_Memorabilia_Suit/75485