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Michael Jackson auction canceled

April 15, 2009|Yvonne Villarreal

Sorry, Michael Jackson fans. The crystal glove worn in the "Billie Jean" video -- and many more artifacts from his years as the so-called King of Pop -- is no longer up for grabs.

An auction of Jackson's assets from his Neverland estate near Santa Barbara was canceled Tuesday, after Jackson and a Beverly Hills auction house reached an agreement that the items would not be sold.

Jackson's representatives had filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court to stop the sale, claiming the singer had never signed the auction contract and that certain items listed for sale were irreplaceable. A hearing on a preliminary injunction was scheduled for this morning.

But a joint statement from Jackson representative Tohme R. Tohme and auction organizer Darren Julien on Tuesday announced that Julien's Auctions would cancel the sale but extend its exhibition of the items through April 25, after which Jackson would get them back. Specific terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

A separate statement from Tohme said that "there was so much interest from so many of Jackson's fans that instead of putting the items in the hands of private collectors, Dr. Tohme and Julien's Auctions have made arrangements that will allow the collection to be shared with and enjoyed by Jackson's fans for many years to come."

What that means exactly was not clear. Julien would not elaborate and Tohme could not be reached for comment.

The eclectic collection -- which includes the gates of Neverland Ranch and elaborately beaded jackets Jackson wore in concert -- is on view to the public at the former Robinsons-May building in Beverly Hills. It is loosely organized into three categories -- stage wear and music memorabilia, toys and "Disneyana," and furniture and decorative arts. Tickets are $20.

Online bidding for the belongings had already begun, with winners to be determined at the live auction.

Julien, president and chief executive of Julien's Auctions, said, "We reached a resolution and we're very happy about. It allows Michael to retain ownership of his possessions. He contracted us to conduct the auction and had a change of mind for whatever reason. And we honor and respect that. We're very happy with the outcome."

Despite its cancellation, auction catalogs were still selling, Julien said. Nearly $2 million was spent to organize the now-canceled sale. "When the lawsuit was filed, we wanted to resolve everything," he said. "We're most certainly happy about the agreement. Sure, I'm disappointed that the auction is not going to take place. But I'm happy that the exhibition will continue."

Jackson has struggled financially after his 2003 arrest on charges of child molestation, and he has been unable to return to the level of success he achieved in the 1980s.

He was later acquitted of all of the criminal charges, but it is estimated that his debt could exceed $24 million.

Representatives of the auction house spent three months clearing the Santa Barbara County property, now co-owned by Jackson and private equity firm Colony Capital LLC and known as Sycamore Valley Ranch. Organizers had projected the auction could fetch between $10 million and $20 million. Auction proceeds, less the auction's house commission, would have gone to Jackson and a music industry charity. The parties said Tuesday that Jackson would make a "substantial" donation to the MusiCares charity.

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yvonne.villarreal@latimes.com

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