Sometimes it takes a judge to state the obvious. The auction of Michael Jackson’s possessions from Neverland can go ahead later this month — at least according to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brett Klein, who rejected a preliminary injunction to stop the sale on Friday — for the very simple reason that Darren Julien’s auction house has a contract to do exactly what it is doing.
This is the latest loopy episode in Jackson’s frequently loopy legal chronicles, and it doesn’t look like it is going anywhere — except perhaps back to more courtrooms for more litigation and wrangling. A different judge is going to hold another injunction hearing on April 15, just one week before the auction is set to begin, and the arguments may well continue to rage thereafter.
Last month Jackson slapped a lawsuit on the auction house, accusing it of trying to sell the litigation-happy pop star’s possessions without his permission.
“We don’t want to spend the next few years in litigation, but if we have to we’ll do it because we want to make sure our reputation is intact,” Julien told me. “We have nothing to hide in this matter, we have no reason to be afraid of anything.”
Julien and his crew emptied out Neverland last summer, at Jackson’s express instructions, then warehoused and catalogued every piece in preparation for the monster sale being staged in the soon-to-be-demolished Robinsons-May space next to the Beverly Hilton. “We have a valid, binding contract,” he said. “That’s why we were hired — to conduct an auction.”
Julien is a hard man to ruffle. As a celebrity auctioneer, he’s had his share of demanding clients, but never has he gone ahead with a sale in the face of outright opposition from the person who hired him. “This is a new one for us, and probably for any auction house,” he said. “As we were when the lawsuit was filed, we are still puzzled. Nobody to this date has come forward and said, this is why we are doing this.”
If Jackson had a problem, he said, all he had to do was pick up the phone. “We deal with celebrities all the time, we’re very accommodating,” he insisted. “Canceling the auction never, never came up. We were never asked to cancel the auction.”