Cleaning out the attic doesn't usually lead to courthouse drama, but one-of-a-kind memorabilia from Kobe Bryant's high school days isn't exactly your typical, worthless clutter.
The Lakers All-Star guard is now involved in a legal dispute with his own mother, Pamela Bryant, after she received $450,000 from Goldin Auctions in exchange for hundreds of Bryant's personal items that she had been storing for him.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Pamela Bryant took the money so that she could purchase a house in Nevada. A lawyer for Bryant reportedly contacted the New Jersey-based auction house with a cease-and-desist letter that requested that the auction, which is already being marketed on GoldinAuctions.com, be halted.
"Mr. Bryant's personal property has ended up in the possession of someone who does not lawfully own it," said Kobe Bryant's attorney, Mark Campbell. "We look forward to resolving this legal matter through the legal system."
The Associated Press reports that Goldin Auctions, which reached an agreement with Pamela Bryant for the items back in January, wants to continue with the auction and has sued Kobe Bryant in response to his cease-and-desist.
A New Jersey auction house filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Camden on Thursday for the right to sell the stuff after the NBA star's lawyers wrote the firm telling it to cancel a planned June auction.
In its court filings, Goldin says Pamela Bryant told the auction house that she asked her son five years ago what he wanted to do with the items that were in her home.
"Kobe Bryant indicated to Pamela Bryant that the items belonged to her and that he had no interest in them,'' the auction house's attorneys wrote. So she put them in a $1,500-per-month New Jersey storage unit.
Kenneth Goldin, owner of the auction house, says he can't cancel the auction because he's already advanced $450,000 to Bryant's mother and put money into advertising the auction.
Meanwhile, ESPN.com reports that Pamela Bryant only sought to auction the items after her son refused to provide her with the money to purchase the home she wanted.
A source told ESPN that Kobe Bryant offered to pay his mother up $250,000 toward a home she wanted. She refused, saying she wanted $450,000. When Kobe Bryant turned her down, the source said that unbeknownst to Kobe Bryant she struck a deal to get the $450,000 advanced through the auction company.
The source said Kobe Bryant was unaware that his memorabilia was being auctioned until hours before the auction company released the news of the sale. Sources close to Kobe Bryant confirmed to ESPNLosAngeles.com that before learning about the auction through news reports, the Lakers star has given his parents "millions of dollars in financial assistance" throughout his 17-year career.
So what exactly is at the center of this dispute between mother and son? Goldin Auctions announced the "The Bryant Collection" earlier this week, providing these details in a press release.
The centerpiece of The Bryant Collection: presented by Goldin Auctions is a road maroon Lower Merion High School (LMHS) #24 basketball uniform (shorts and jersey) from Bryant's freshmen year. This uniform is special in that he only wore #24, as a freshman, before switching to #33 for the remainder of his high school career. It is believed to be the only authentic game worn #24 Kobe Bryant LMHS jersey in existence. The next time he wore a #24 jersey was when he switched his NBA number to it after the 2005-06 NBA season. When he finally removes #24 from his back, it will hang in the rafters alongside, Wilt, Kareem, Magic and Shaq.
In addition to offering one fortunate collector the chance to own this rare #24 uniform, The Bryant Collection also includes two complete #33 LMHS uniforms (shorts and jersey) worn by Bryant during his high school career. One uniform is in the home white and the other is the road maroon.
The six rings in the collection include: a 1996 High School McDonald's All-American ring; 1996 High School State Championship ring; 1998 and 2000 NBA All-Star rings; plus a team issued Kobe Bryant 2000 Lakers championship ring given by Kobe to his father Joe Bryant and a specially designed version for his mother Pamela Bryant.
It's not often that sympathy is the first emotion that comes to mind when a professional athlete worth hundreds of millions of dollars winds up in a legal dispute with his mother but this mess surely could have been avoided and anyone can relate to the pain that would come with seeing a family member hawk your personal effects without your consent.
In an ideal world, the following things happen: Kobe Bryant gets his stuff back, stores it himself, and compensates his mother for her storage fees; Pamela Bryant gives the money back to the auction house and Kobe Bryant agrees to cover the costs of the inconvenience to Goldin Auctions, to a reasonable degree; Kobe and Pamela Bryant work together to reach a resolution on an acceptable new house for mom.
Will things play out that cleanly? Well, plenty of lawyers are already involved and the dirty laundry has already hit the national headlines, so don't bet on it.
Here's the GoldinAuctions.com promotional artwork for the collection, which includes shots of Bryant's jerseys, medals, trophies, and rings.