There have been more than a few stories in the news recently about sports memorabilia being auctioned off without the consent of the true owner.
Some of the high profile cases surround NBA ultra-super star Michael Jordan and New York Yankees great Reggie Jackson.
Objects owned by the sports celebrities have been auctioned off without their consent or the consent of the actual owner. For instance, Michael Jordan’s high school girlfriend was shocked to learn that a love letter she received from Jordan decades ago had been removed from her home (stolen, she says) and auctioned off online. She only learned about the auction of the personal letter while watching a news report on TV.
Of course, over time objects that once belonged to a sports figure may fall into the hands of someone else or be given to another person. However, in the recent cases, actual owners claim that they did not consent to having their property sold.
Enter Reggie Jackson…
Baseball Hall of Famer Jackson sued an auction company in Las Vegas for attempting to sell the Cartier watch given to him by the Yankees commemorating his 400th career home run. The lawsuit filed by Jackson’s attorneys alleges that Jackson’s stepmother, Resurrection Jackson, provided items belonging to Jackson but once in the possession of his father, to the auction house without his (the owner) consent. The custom made Cartier watch in question was loaned by Jackson to his father with the caveat that the watch would be returned upon his father’s death. Reggie Jackson’s father died in 1994. Jackson alleges that his stepmother, in order to sell the watch and other related items at auction, has made a fake claim of ownership.
That is the power house phrase right there —“fake claim of ownership.”
For those of us who aren’t Reggie Jackson or Michael Jordan, that is the vital point —who owns what!?
Access to an object is not enough to give a person the power to sell an object. A person has to actually and legally own an item in order to put it up for auction.
You know that, I know that, and auction houses know that too. Family members know what belongs to whom when it comes to family heirlooms. If you think this type of problem only surfaces in the homes of the rich and famous, think again. Families need to know that they have, know what it’s worth, and know who really owns the item before moving forward with a sale.