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Simpson's Rolex is a fake, Goldmans find

October 06, 2007|Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writer

The Goldman family thought it had reached a turning point earlier this week in its decade-long battle to collect a $33.5-million civil judgment from O.J. Simpson.

A Santa Monica judge ordered the former football star to turn over his gold Rolex Submariner watch -- estimated to be worth $12,000 to $22,000 -- to the family.

But the Hall of Fame running back hit them with a fake -- literally -- when it was discovered that the luxury timepiece was a knockoff made in China, worth about $125.

"It was made by the finest craftsmen in China," said David Cook, the Goldman family attorney who plans to return the watch to Simpson. "It's a people's Rolex."

Simpson is making headlines after being charged with armed robbery and kidnapping stemming from a Sept. 13 incident at a downtown Las Vegas hotel.

Authorities have accused Simpson and five other men of bursting into a hotel room at gunpoint to steal signed footballs and other items from memorabilia dealers.

The Santa Monica case stems from the slayings of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson in 1994. Simpson was acquitted of murder charges, but a jury later found him liable for the killings and ordered him to pay $33.5 million. The Goldmans have yet to collect any significant money.

The family went to court in Santa Monica seeking proceeds from Simpson's memorabilia and other items, including the Rolex. (Simpson's civil attorney Ronald P. Slates had warned that the watch was of suspicious origin.)

The judge eventually ruled that the watch could be sold and that the Las Vegas memorabilia would be frozen pending further order of the court.

Cook, based in San Francisco, said he took the watch to a Bay Area jeweler, who notified him, as he put it, that the timepiece was "value disabled."

Despite the watch's dubious lineage, Cook said that he had received a $10,000 offer to buy it. But in court papers, Judge Gerald Rosenberg rejected the suggestion, ordering Cook to turn it over to Simpson's attorney.

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andrew.blankstein @latimes.com

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