Michael Jackson sued an auction house Wednesday to halt the scheduled sale of thousands of his personal possessions, an action the firm says caught it completely off-guard.
The King of Pop's company, MJJ Productions, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday against Julien's Auction House. It claims founder Darren Julien promised to send Jackson an inventory of sale items, but that the singer hasn't given permission to move them all.
The suit claims many of the items are "priceless and irreplaceable" and describes the attempt to sell them as "malicious, fraudulent, extreme, outrageous and without any legal justification whatsoever."
Julien said Wednesday night that the lawsuit was a "total surprise to us, because Jackson had been apprised of everything since the day we started. His manager ... has approved everything."
"I am in Ireland right now but this comes as a surprise. Michael Jackson and his manager have been involved and we have communicated with them all along on this auction. We are not a moving company but we are an auction house. It does not make sense that he did not want the items sold that we picked up." Darren Julien, Julien's Auctions' President exclusively told China.org.cn.
In December, Julien's company announced it would administer a five-day auction in April featuring more than 2,000 of Jackson's personal items, including his American Music Award for "Thriller," a velvet cape given to him by his children for Father's Day in 1998, a pair of rhinestone-trimmed socks from 1981 and a basketball signed by Michael Jordan.
Platinum and gold records, a customized Harley Davidson, a Rolls Royce limousine and his own original artwork were also set for sale, according to the original announcement.
MJJ Productions authorized the auction house to remove the items from Jackson's Neverland Ranch, according to court documents, but not to sell them without Jackson's permission.
"There was no other intention when we picked up the items" but to put them up for sale, Julien said. He said that Jackson's camp had since requested some items be returned, which the firm honored.
"Up until two days ago we were working with his managers," including final details such as a date for the catalog to be ready and signed, he added.
Julien, who is in Ireland on a promotional trip and had not been served with the lawsuit, said he would be getting in touch with the Jackson camp before deciding what to do next.
(China.org.cn/AP March 5, 2009)