Kobe Bryant settled two lawsuits with a New Jersey auction house over plans to sell his memorabilia, and the parents of the All-Star basketball guard apologized to him for their actions.
The confidential deal averted a trial between Bryant and Goldin Auctions LLC that was scheduled for June 17 in federal court in Camden, New Jersey. Bryant, a Los Angeles Laker, sought to block Goldin Auctions from selling 100 items consigned by his mother, Pamela Bryant. Under the accord, Goldin Auctions can sell six items, and Kobe Bryant got an apology.
“We regret our actions and statements related to the Kobe Bryant auction memorabilia,” Pamela and Joe Bryant said in a statement released yesterday by their son’s law firm, Loeb & Loeb LLP. “We apologize for any misunderstanding and unintended pain we have caused our son and appreciate the financial support he has provided over the years.”
The Bryants also apologized to Goldin Auctions “for their inadvertent involvement in this matter and thank them for their assistance.”
Bryant, one of the National Basketball Association’s all-time greats, contended in court papers that his mother falsely said he gave her permission to auction the items. The firm had initially estimated the auction could raise more than $1 million.
“Goldin Auctions thanks Kobe Bryant for his assistance in resolving this matter,” Ken Goldin, the founder of the auction house, said in a statement.
Under the accord, Goldin Auctions can sell items including two jerseys worn by Bryant when he was at Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania; a diamond-studded ring commemorating the Lakers championship in 2000 that he gave to his father; a similar one that he gave to his mother; and Bryant’s ring from the 2000 NBA All-Star game.
“It is clearly stated in our agreement that we have clear title and unencumbered rights to sell all of the items and promote them as we do all of the items in all of our auctions,” Goldin said in an interview.
The six items cleared for sale will be among 1,100 memorabilia pieces that Goldin Auctions will sell in bidding set to run June 17 to July 19, Goldin said. The firm also will auction 14 other Bryant items obtained from different sources, he said.
Bryant sued Goldin Auctions in California state court in Orange County on May 6, four days after the auctioneer sued the the basketball player in Camden. Goldin Auctions had the California case transferred to federal court in Santa Ana, prompting a judge to issue a temporary restraining order.
In court papers filed May 13, Bryant’s parents both disputed claims by their son and his wife, Vanessa, that he never gave them the items.
“My son has never demanded the return of any of the items, nor were they in any way improperly taken from him without his permission,” according to Pamela Bryant’s affidavit. “Neither Kobe nor Vanessa has ever requested that we return the items to them so that they can give it as family heirlooms to their children.”
Bryant’s father, former NBA player Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, said that he and his wife lived with his son in Pacific Palisades, California, from 1996 until he got married. Bryant then arranged for his parents to move back to Pennsylvania and shipped the memorabilia, according to Joe Bryant’s affidavit.
In 2005, when Kobe Bryant and his wife visited his parents, the younger couple “went upstairs to look at the memorabilia,” according to the affidavit. “Kobe and Vanessa left our house without taking any of the memorabilia. When my wife came back downstairs, she told me that Vanessa had said that the items were from Kobe’s past and they did not want them.”
The elder Bryant sold the house in 2008 and put the items in storage in New Jersey. They got a $450,000 advance from Goldin Auctions and used it to buy a house in Las Vegas.
In a May 8 filing in federal court in Santa Ana, Bryant said he “never told my mother that she could have my personal property, let alone consign it for sale by public auction.”
“Several years ago, while visiting my parents’ home in Philadelphia, my wife and I specifically requested that my mother return the property to me so that I may give it to my own children,” according to Bryant’s declaration. “My mother never returned those items to me.”
On May 2, Pamela Bryant called him, according to the filing.
“I confronted her about her false statement that I have given my memorabilia to her,” Bryant said.
“I said to her, ‘Mom, you know I never told you that you could have the memorabilia.’ Her response was, ‘Yes, but you never said you wanted it either.’ Of course, this is untrue since my wife and I requested that she return my memorabilia several years earlier.”
The cases are Bryant v. Goldin Auctions, 13-cv-00727, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana); and Goldin Auctions LLC v. Bryant, 13-cv-02816, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Camden).
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