Goldin Auctions has asked a U.S. District Court for a declaratory judgment in the case of disputed ownership of Kobe Bryant memorabilia. The New Jersey auction company filed court papers on Friday after receiving a cease and desist letter from Bryant’s attorney over the impending sale of items from his life as one of basketball’s biggest stars. The auction company is asking a federal judge to keep Kobe "from interfering with the auction".
Founder and owner Ken Goldin had announced the auction last week, a large consignment of potentially valuable uniforms from Bryant’s high school career as well as awards and championship rings. According to court papers, Pamela Bryant, Kobe’s mother, had contacted Goldin on December 27 and was presented with a $450,000 advance on January 3. She used the money to purchase a home.
On Friday, Philly.com reported that Kobe Bryant's attorney, Mark Campbell, had sent the company a letter telling them the items didn’t belong to Pamela Bryant and asked them to put a halt to the sale, which was scheduled to conclude next month.
Goldin’s claim says Bryant “had no interest” in the Lower Merion High jerseys and memorabilia and that both the Lakers’ star and his wife had told Pamela Bryant several years ago that they didn't want them back. Pamela Bryant says she’s had the items for over 15 years and they've been sitting in a New Jersey storage unit for more than five years, while she paid $1,500 per month for fees and insurance.
“The evidence will show that even if he didn’t give them to her, he at the very least, abandoned them,” Goldin’s attorneys state in the court filing.
Goldin claims if the judge doesn’t rule that the auction process can continue, his business will suffer “irreparable harm” and that stopping the auction could have a negative effect on auctioneers’ attempts to sell goods from similar situations in the future (see below).
Goldin’s lawyers believe Bryant doesn’t have much interest in the items but simply doesn’t want them sold.
The court papers indicate Pamela Bryant has 900 other items in her possession relating to her famous son’s life and career that are worth $1.5 million. Those, too, could be headed for the auction block if Goldin succeeds in turning back Kobe’s efforts.