Auction of Bryant's items delayed

Updated: May 11, 2013, 7:45 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

A federal judge in California has ruled an auction house cannot sell, destroy or otherwise dispose of Kobe Bryant memorabilia offered by the NBA star's mother while courts sort out where the case should be decided.

The case revolves around a spat between Bryant and his mother and is playing out coast to coast and in more courts than a playoff series.

According to a court filing made this week by Bryant, his mother moved his treasures to a southern New Jersey storage facility a few years ago so she could convert his old bedroom in the family's Pennsylvania home into a playroom for her granddaughters.

Pamela Bryant reached a deal in January for Berlin, N.J.-based Goldin Auctions to sell hundreds of items of her son's old stuff, including practice gear and jerseys, varsity letters and awards from his days at Pennsylvania's Lower Merion High School, as well as items from his early days in the NBA, including a signed ball from an NBA All-Star game and championship rings the Lakers had made for Bryant's parents.

Pamela Bryant says in court filings that her son gave her permission to do what she wanted with his old things.

Kobe Bryant says, also in court papers, that's not so. And, he says, he confronted his mother and that she agreed with him that she had fibbed.

According to his filing, he said, "Mom I never told you that you could have the memorabilia," and that she responded, "Yes, but you never said that you wanted it either." In a court filing later Friday, Pamela Bryant denied that the conversation happened.

Bryant also says that two of his prized possessions -- a trophy and a surfboard award from the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards -- were last seen in his California home, and he doesn't know how they made their way to the New Jersey auction house.

Goldin says Kobe sent those items with his parents several years ago when he moved them out of his California home and back to the Philadelphia suburbs.

Goldin, which is being sued by Kobe Bryant in California, filed an opposition late Friday to Bryant's hope for an injunction against the company from selling his memorabilia.

In the filing, Goldin alleges Bryant and his wife Vanessa came to Philadelphia around 2005. When Kobe's mother, who claims to own the items, asked Vanessa about whether or not they wanted Kobe's memorabilia, she said they were items from his past and they did not want them.

In a new affidavit provided by Goldin, Bryant's father Joe said that when the couple moved from Pennsylvania to California to live with Kobe, his artifacts were not moved because Kobe never wanted them. The father also says that his son at no time requested the items back as they paid about $80,000 over the last five years to store and insure the memorabilia.

Goldin also filed an affidavit from Kobe's maternal grandmother, Mildred Cox, who was at the house when Pam told her that Vanessa said that they didn't want any memorabilia.

The auction house appraised the trove of 900 items at $1.5 million and gave Pamela Bryant a $450,000 advance, which a court filing said she intended to spend on a home in Nevada. Property records show that she and Bryant's father, former pro basketball player Joe "Jellybean" Bryant bought a Las Vegas home earlier this year.

On April 30, Goldin announced the first auction would be held in June. By the end of the day, Kobe Bryant's lawyers had asked the firm to scrap the sale, saying Pamela Bryant didn't have the right to sell it. 

Since then, Goldin has gone to a federal judge in Camden, N.J. to request permission to go ahead with a sale and Bryant has gone to a state judge in California to ask that the sale be scrapped. Goldin's lawyers had the California case moved to a U.S. District Court in Santa Ana. Judge Andrew Guilford ruled Thursday that the auction house cannot do anything with "The Kobe Bryant Collection" before a hearing scheduled for Monday, when he intends to listen to arguments about what court should deal with the case.

In the meantime, a federal judge in New Jersey has approved letting Kobe Bryant's California-based lawyer appear there.

Pamela Bryant did not answer the door of two Philadelphia homes she has owned on Friday or answer calls.

Lawyers for Bryant and Goldin also did not return messages.

Information from ESPN.com's Darren Rovell and The Associated Press was used in this report.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

ALSO SEE

MORE NBA HEADLINES