Kobe Goes on Offense

SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) – Kobe Bryant countersued Goldin Auctions, which claims he’s interfering with its sale of his memorabilia for which it paid his mother a $450,000 advance, in Superior Court.
     Goldin sued the Laker star in Trenton, N.J. Federal Court last week, claiming his interference with its auction of 100 of his mementos in June jeopardized its auction of “in excess of 900 items worth approximately $1.5 million in other collectibles set for auction not consigned by Pamela Bryant that will be in jeopardy of not being sold.”
     Goldin claimed it paid Bryant’s mother a $450,000 advance, which she spent on a house.
     Kobe Bryant countersued Goldin on Monday, in Orange County Superior Court.
     Pamela Goldin is not a party to either lawsuit.
     “This case concerns the illegal efforts of Goldin, a New Jersey auction house, to sell invaluable sports memorabilia owned by Kobe Bryant, including irreplaceable items from his past such as his high school basketball jerseys and state championship rings,” Kobe Bryant says in his complaint. “Mr. Bryant seeks to prevent the sale of his personal property by Goldin and to force the return of the personal property, which holds tremendous sentimental value to him.
     “Upon information and belief, on December 27, 2012, Plaintiff’s mother, Pamela Bryant, offered Goldin the opportunity to auction for sale numerous items of sports memorabilia from Plaintiff’s basketball career. Upon information and belief, Pamela
     Bryant falsely represented to Goldin that Plaintiff had gifted the memorabilia to her. Goldin agreed to offer the memorabilia for sale at auction.
     “Upon information and belief, on or about January 2, 2013, Pamela Bryant signed a Consignment Agreement with Goldin by which she agreed to consign certain Kobe Bryant memorabilia to Goldin to be offered for public sale at auction. In addition,
     Pamela Bryant signed letters of authenticity ostensibly certifying that she is Plaintiff’s mother and that the to-be-auctioned memorabilia was free of any liens and encumbrances. The memorabilia was delivered to Goldin on January 3, 2013.
     “Upon information and belief, pursuant to the Consignment Agreement, on January 3, 2013, Goldin wired $450,000 to a bank account controlled by Plaintiff’s parents, Joseph and Pamela Bryant.
     “Plaintiff was never provided notice of, or otherwise consulted regarding, the Consignment Agreement prior to its execution by Goldin and Pamela Bryant. Indeed,
     Plaintiff did not learn of the purported consignment of his personal property until Goldin issued a press release several months later. …
     “The April 30 Press Release creates a false and misleading impression that Plaintiff was involved in the consignment of The Kobe Bryant Collection. In the April Press Release, Goldin claims that ‘[a]ll of the items have been consigned to auction by the Bryant family,’ and further states that ‘[i]t is gratifying to once again work with the Bryant family. …’ The April 30 Press Release continues with a glamorized portrayal of Goldin’s supposed prior work with Plaintiff. These statements falsely insinuate that Mr. Bryant himself consigned The Kobe Bryant Collection for auction. He did not. The April 30 Press Release, and all other advertisements, solicitations and promotions concerning The Kobe Bryant Collection, were and are wholly unauthorized by Plaintiff.
     “Goldin does not have the right to sell the items in The Kobe Bryant Collection, or any of Plaintiff’s property. With possibly one or two exceptions, all of the items listed for auction in The Kobe Bryant Collection are the rightful personal property of Plaintiff and no one in the ‘Bryant family’ besides Plaintiff has any rights to these items.
     “Certain of the items listed in The Kobe Bryant Collection were last seen by Plaintiff and/or his wife, Vanessa Bryant, in their personal residence. Although it is unclear how Goldin ultimately came to possess those items, it is clear that those items were surreptitiously taken from Plaintiff residence without his permission. At no time did
     Plaintiff grant Goldin, or any other party, the right to possess or sell any of the items that were illegally taken from his home.
     “The remaining items identified by Goldin in The Kobe Bryant Collection were left by Plaintiff in the care of his mother, Pamela Bryant. Although Pamela Bryant maintained possession of certain of Plaintiff’s personal property for the benefit of Plaintiff, he never granted his mother ownership of that property, nor the right to consign such property for auction.
     “To the contrary, Plaintiff made it very clear on numerous occasions that the items listed in The Kobe Bryant Collection, as well as any other property owned by Plaintiff but in Pamela Bryant’s possession or control (collectively with The Kobe Bryant
     Collection, the ‘Kobe Bryant Property’), was to be held by Pamela Bryant for the benefit of Plaintiff. Indeed, beginning many years prior to the execution of the Consignment Agreement, Plaintiff and his wife made repeated requests to Pamela Bryant that she return the Kobe Bryant Property, so that they may eventually give those items to their own children. Those appeals became increasingly urgent after Plaintiff discovered that Pamela Bryant had placed some or all of the Kobe Bryant Property at risk of theft in a storage facility after she converted Plaintiff’s childhood bedroom into a toy room for Plaintiff’s nieces. Pamela Bryant promised Plaintiff that she would return the Kobe Bryant Property, but she never did.
     “Plaintiff also demanded that Goldin return any and all Kobe Bryant Property in its possession or control. Specifically, on April 30, 2013, counsel for Plaintiff sent a letter to Goldin demanding: (1) the immediate return of Plaintiff’s personal property; (2) immediate cessation of any and all references to the ‘Bryant family’ that insinuate that Plaintiff was in any way involved with the consignment of his items for auction; and (3) that Goldin provide assurances that it immediately discontinue the June 2013 auction of Plaintiff’s personal property (the ‘Cease and Desist Letter’). A true and correct copy of the Cease and Desist Letter is attached hereto as Exhibit ‘A’.
     “Goldin refused to comply with any of Plaintiff’s demands. Instead, on May 2, 2013, Goldin filed a complaint against Mr. Bryant in the United Stated District Court for the District of New Jersey for expedited declaratory relief, thereby initiating an action entitled Goldin Auctions, LLC v. Kobe Bryant, D.N.J. Case No. 13-2816 (RMB/JS). Goldin absurdly claims that it will suffer irreparable harm (i.e., loss of the money advanced to Pamela Bryant), if it is precluded from going forward with the June 2013 Auction. Goldin concurrently moved the Court for a temporary restraining order and order to show cause why Mr. Bryant should not be enjoined from interfering with the June 2013 auction. The hearing on the order to show cause is currently set for May 14, 2013. The New Jersey action, however, is ineffective as to Mr. Bryant due to a lack of personal jurisdiction.
     “The Kobe Bryant Property has tremendous sentimental value for Plaintiff and he desires to hand down his well-earned memorabilia to his children. No amount of money can compensate Plaintiff should his unique, irreplaceable personal property, which was gathered over an illustrious, decades-long basketball career, be sold to strangers at a public auction for Goldin’s monetary gain.”
     Bryant wants the auction enjoined; he wants his stuff back and damages for conversion. He is represented by Mark Campbell with Loeb & Loeb, of Los Angeles.

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