A US judge has ruled against the Whitney Houston estate and Heritage Auctions, blocking their attempted sale of the late singer’s Emmy award. The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences filed suit June 23 against both parties, claiming an auction would tarnish its reputation and ownership of the statuettes, which it said were only loaned out.
Houston won the award in 1986 and it was part of her belongings, including a passport and a Dolce & Gabbana coat, on the block at Beverly Hills-based Heritage Auctions.
According to the Academy, Emmy winners’ heirs are entitled to keep their awards “to symbolize the achievements of the deceased honorees” but the trophies cannot be sold. The judge in the federal court in Los Angeles agreed but there will be another hearing July 7 to extend the current order.
Houston, who died in 2012, won the Emmy in 1986 in recognition of her performance of “Saving All My Love for You” at a televised Grammy Awards ceremony.
Heritage Auctions moved to return the Emmy to the Houston family and proceeded with the sale, earning more than $500,000. The top bid was reportedly a pair of Nike Air Jordan sneakers given to the singer by the basketball legend himself, Michael Jordan, in 1990. While the Emmy was not sold, other awards – a Billboard award and Houston’s gold records for example – were part of the sale.
The singer drowned in a bathtub at the age of 48 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, with cocaine and heart disease listed as contributing factors.
A coroner’s report issued a few weeks after her death said Houston died face down in the bathwater, possibly after overdosing on drugs and alcohol.
Various bottles were found in the room – in all some 12 medications prescribed by five different doctors, including anxiety treatment Xanax and the potent corticosteroid Prednisone.
The singer of hits such as “I Will Always Love You” sold more than 170 million records during a nearly three-decade career, but also fought a long battle against substance abuse.