(CN) – An auction house claims concert promoter David Gest is trying “to cash in on his former association with the late Michael Jackson” by demanding $200,000 from it for mentioning that Gest had given the late singer some of the items it auctioned off.
Julien’s Auction House sued Gest in Los Angeles Federal Court, seeking declaratory judgment. It claims it was forced to go to court to stave off Gest’s demand for $200,000.
Julien’s claims Gest threatened to sue if for violating his publicity rights by telling bidders that he once owned 21 of the auctioned items. Julien’s describes Gest’s threat of litigation as an attempt “to cash in on his former association with the late Michael Jackson.”
Julien’s says Gest gave Jackson the items to satisfy a debt. It insists that its sale “did not violate Mr. Gest’s alleged right of publicity and that such disclosure does not entitle Mr. Gest to an ‘accounting’ of Plaintiffs’ books and records.”
Julien’s claims Gest told it that the “‘wrong’ could only be righted” if the auction house gave him $200,000.
But Julien’s says Gest’s threat came despite his knowledge that “collectors of Michael Jackson memorabilia are interested in the memorabilia because of the affiliation with Michael Jackson, not because of some past connection to David Gest.”
Gest was briefly married to Liza Minnelli after Michael Jackson introduced them.
After their divorce, Gest sued Minnelli for $10 million, claiming she had abused him.
Julien’s makes much of this in its complaint, stating, “(I)t is highly doubtful that Mr. Gest’s affiliation with the auction items could have increased their value. If anyone really knew who Mr. Gest was, they would also likely know that Mr. Gest has reportedly been involved in domestic abuse, sued his wealthy ex-wife for $10 million (alleging that she abused him), and – according to an article posted on his own Web site – is ‘in the process of dumping his homeland, the United States’ and has pledged his allegiance to the Queen of England.” (Parentheses and italics are as in complaint.)
Julien’s seeks declaratory judgment. It is represented by Gerald Hawxhurst and Daryl Crone with Baker Marquart.