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David Bowie's hair, Prince's guitar up for grabs but fight on for Whitney Houston's Emmy

You could own Whitney Houston's wedding dress, passport and even her old credit cards. But trying to land her Emmy award just got a lot tougher.

Beverly Hills auction includes items from the 3 late musicians, TV Academy claims Houston Emmy can't be sold

Houston's Emmy, which has prompted a legal complaint from the Television Academy, isn't on display at the Beverly Hills auction house, but is part of the catologue of items for sale.

You could own Whitney Houston's wedding dress, passport and even her old credit cards. But trying to land her Emmy award just got a lot tougher.

Heritage Auctions is auctioning hundreds of items June 24-25 that once belonged to Whitney Houston, on sale by her family.

But there's one item that shouldn't be for sale, according to the Television Academy: Houston's Emmy. A lot of the singer's awards are on the auction block, including her 1986 Emmy for a show-stopping Grammy performance of Saving All My Love For You.

The Television Academy is suing Heritage Auctions for selling Houston's Emmy, saying the award must contractually be returned to the academy by the owner's heirs and cannot be auctioned off or sold. (Heritage Auctions/ha.com)

According to a legal document filed Wednesday, the Academy of Television and Sciences has filed a complaint against Heritage Auctions and Patricia Houston, Whitney's sister-in-law and manager, for intending to sell the Emmy, saying there's an obligation to return the statuette to the Academy rather than sell it.

Houston's Emmy sale challenged

"By offering the Houston Emmy for sale, defendants have wrongfully disposed of the Television Academy's rights in it and have violated the Television Academy's copyright in the Emmy Statuette," said the papers, which state the Academy is also seeking a restraining order to prevent the sale from happening later this week.

In response, Heritage Auctions says it believes the Academy is "simply trying to bully the Houston family."

"Why is the Academy now demanding return of Houston's Emmy when they did not stop over three dozen earlier public auctions of Emmy awards the past decade?" Greg Rohan, the company's president, wrote in a statement.

Rohan also said the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences claims that Whitney signed an agreement that the Emmy would not be sold when she received it.

"We have asked the Academy multiple times to produce that signed agreement but still have not received it," he said.

Buying the story behind each item

Not all of the items up for auction are as contentious. Many seem quite the opposite — mundane. Houston's passports and credit cards will be sold to the highest bidder, but many people might be buying the story behind the item, rather than just the item itself.

For example, her 1985 passport traces the many countries she visited while on tour when she hit it big and shows a very young Houston in the photo.

Houston's passport from the 1980s and 1990s containing country stamps from all over as part of her world tour. (Zulekha Nathoo/CBC)

"She went to so many countries, they had to provide extra pages," said Shrum, flipping through the pages of the mint-condition passport kept behind glass at the Beverly Hills auction house. "So if you look at it here, it folds out."

The 2007 passport, below, documents her final travels. It was the one she owned when she died in 2012 after accidentally drowning in a hotel bathtub following cocaine use.

Houston's passport before she died shows a much different woman compared to the passport she used for her first international tour 20 years prior. (Zulekha Nathoo/CBC)

The two credit cards on the auction block are the only ones with her signature, since she rarely signed the back of her plastic.

"[The Houston family] thought it was time to share some things with the fans and a lot of people have always approached them about buying things," said Heritage Auctions' consignment director Garry Shrum, who's been working closely with the family.

One of two credit cards up for sale, with Houston's signature on the back. (Zulekha Nathoo/CBC)

Houston's wedding dress

The wedding dress Houston wore for her 1992 nuptials with Bobby Brown, who revealed new details about their tumultuous relationship in a recent memoir, has its own share of drama as well.

The exclusively-designed Marc Bouwer gown is up for sale, but the Houstons preferred not to put it on display with the rest of the items, according to the auction house.

The dress Houston wore at her 1992 wedding to Bobby Brown is expected to go for thousands of dollars. (Heritage Auctions/ha.com)

Prince's guitar and early demo up for grabs

Alongside Houston's belongings are a few belonging to Prince. A "yellow cloud" guitar belonging to the late musician, which was custom-made and used to perform songs such as Cream, has a starting bid of $30,000 US.

Prince's yellow cloud guitar is decorated on the front and sides with black markers in the form of the spade symbol he made famous. (Zulekha Nathoo/CBC)

Bowie's hair can be yours, for a price

A two inch piece of David Bowie's hair, snipped from a wigmaker at Madame Tussauds in London could fetch thousands. John Lennon's locks set a precedent earlier this year, when a piece sold for more than $30,000 US at auction in February.

This lock of Bowie's hair was snipped in the process of trying to create his wax figure sporting a 1983 hairdo for the famous Madame Tussauds. (Zulekha Nathoo/CBC)

Enticing the bidder

A lot of the memorabilia seems affordable — for a reason. Bids deliberately start low, some in the hundreds of dollars, to entice buyers and keep them invested once they find a piece they like.

The singer spent a lot of time at the Beverly Hills Hotel (not to be confused with the Beverly Hilton, where she died) and was presented with a symbolic key. This item is one of many with relatively low starting bids. (Zulekha Nathoo/CBC)

Want to see more? Check out the photo gallery below for more auction items.

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