A federal judge ruled Friday that auctioneers could not proceed with the sale of Whitney Houston’s 1986 Emmy Award.
A temporary restraining order was issued against both Heritage Auctions and the late singer’s estate to prevent the auction of Houston’s Primetime Emmy Award for Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program Emmy, which Houston won for her performance of “Saving All My Love for You” at the 1986 Grammy Awards.
“We fought the good fight, but we respect the court’s decision,” Heritage Auctions spokesman Eric Bradley told The Associated Press. “As ordered, the award will be withdrawn from the auction and returned to the Houston family.”
The three organizations that oversee the Emmy Awards – Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS), the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) and the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences – argued that, contractually, when an artist wins an Emmy, the award is simply loaned to them and cannot be resold. In the case of Houston’s Emmy, the award was slated for storage “in memory of the recipient” if the estate gave up its ownership.
Heritage Auctions president Greg Rohan argued that over 40 Emmy Awards have been resold in sales and auctions without those three organizations impeding on those transactions. However, likely due to the high-profile nature of Houston’s Emmy, this time the Emmy academies stepped in to prevent the sale.
While the Emmy was removed from the block, the Houston auction proceeded as scheduled Friday with a range of significant items from the singer’s life and career, from American Music Awards, People’s Choice Awards and MTV Europe Music Awards won by Houston to stage-worn dresses and the earrings Houston wore to her 1992 wedding to Bobby Brown.