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Auction House Counterpunches Holyfield

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Evander Holyfield's legal demand to retrieve boxing memorabilia is "frivolous," Julien's Auctions claims in a countersuit, not against the boxing champ, but against his personal assistant.

Julien Entertainment.com dba Julien's Auctions sued Toi Irvin in Superior Court, alleging breach of contract and intentional interference with contract.

Holyfield sued Julien's on Nov.1, claiming it was withholding 20 valuable pieces he had handed over because of financial problems after his Georgia home was foreclosed - including robes, belts, trunks, and title belts. Holyfield claimed that he told Julien's that some of the items he consigned it were not for sale.

But Julien's that Holyfield's personal assistant Toi Irvin knew that once the items were consigned they could not be withdrawn.

Irvin, Holyfield's personal assistant and the mother of one of his children, is the only named defendant.

"Holyfield claims he never gave Julien's authorization for these disputed items to be sold at the auction," Julien's complaint states. "With Irvin's assistance, Holyfield has since engaged in a negative-publicity campaign that has substantially damaged the business and reputation of Julien's. Without these key items, the auction is at risk of not being successful, or, even worse, not going forward at all."

Julien's claims it has spent $500,000 promoting the auction set for Nov. 30 in Beverly Hills, and marketing the 450 pieces that Irvin allegedly said Holyfield approved for sale.

Without Holyfield's most valuable pieces the auction will be "pointless," the auction house says in its complaint.

"The central focus of the campaign were certain of Holyfield's most iconic items, such as the 1996 Tyson fight worn gloves, the 1993 WBA [World Boxing Association] and IBF [International Boxing Federation] championship belts, the 1990 WBA, IBF, and WBC [World Boxing Council] championship belts, the 1983 Pan Am Games silver medal, the 1984 Golden Gloves ring, and the Olympics bronze medal and ring," the complaint states.

Julien's claims it paid Irvin a $20,000 advance, and that she has "utterly and totally failed in her obligations."

"Not only has Julien's been forced needlessly to defend a frivolous lawsuit brought by Holyfield, incurred over $500,000 in costs and expenses for the auction, paid $20,000 of the Advance to Irvin, Julien's has been substantially injured in its reputation and goodwill in the industry. Without its reputation and goodwill, Julien's cannot exist."

Julien's claims it has conducted auctions for a panoply of celebrities, including Madonna, Michael Jackson, and the estates of Marilyn Monroe and Mary Pickford.

It seeks damages for breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and intentional interference with contractual relations.

It is represented by Sonia Lee with Raines Feldman of Beverly Hills.

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