David Bowie's hair, Prince's guitar up for grabs but fight on for Whitney Houston's Emmy
Beverly Hills auction includes items from the 3 late musicians, TV Academy claims Houston Emmy can't be sold
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
Want to see more? Check out the photo gallery below for more auction items.