Los Angeles — A federal judge blocked the sale of an Emmy Award that Whitney Houston won 30 years ago after it was put on the auction block by the late singer’s family.
U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson issued a temporary restraining order Thursday against Heritage Auctions and the pop star’s estate, which planned to sell the Emmy. Houston won the TV award in 1986 for her performance of “Saving All My Love for You” during the Grammy ceremony.
Anderson’s ruling says the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has initially shown it owns the award, is likely to win the case and would suffer irreparable harm if the award was sold. He set a hearing for July 7 to extend the order.
“We fought the good fight, but we respect the court’s decision,” Heritage Auctions spokesman Eric Bradley said. “As ordered, the award will be withdrawn from the auction and returned to the Houston family.”
Anderson agreed with arguments by lawyers for the television academy that Emmy trophies are loaned to an artist but that it retains ownership rights to them and they cannot be sold after the artist dies.
If an heir no longer wants an Emmy Award, it must be returned to the academy for storage in “memory of the recipient,” according to court filings.
Heritage Auctions had pointed to other instances in which Emmy Awards had been sold before Anderson’s ruling.
“The academy has let slide … almost 40 sales and auctions. Why are they taking on the Houstons?” company President Greg Rohan said earlier this week.
Houston was found dead at age 48 in a hotel room in Beverly Hills on the eve of the 2012 Grammys.
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