LOS ANGELES - A collection of Michael Jackson's possessions from Neverland Ranch is safe from the auctioneer's gavel now that the pop singer and Julien's Auction House have reached a settlement to their dispute over whether 2,000 items were ever intended for sale.
Specific terms were not disclosed Tuesday. But, in short, Jackson keeps his things, while Julien's keeps its exhibition, which was open to the public and originally meant to promote next week's sale.
"There was so much interest from so many of Jackson's fans that instead of putting the items in the hands of private collectors, Dr. Tohme and Julien's Auction House have made arrangements that will allow the collection to be shared with and enjoyed by Jackson's fans for many years to come," read a joint statement from Jackson spokesman Dr. Tohme R. Tohme and auction organizer Darren Julien.
Jackson's production company, MJJ Productions, sued Julien in early March, seeking to halt the sale by arguing that Jackson hadn't authorized it. A judge blocked one effort by MJJ Productions to cancel it earlier this month, and another was scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday for an injunction.
"I believe both sides are pleased with the resolution," Julien said Tuesday by telephone.
Julien has said he spent $2 million organizing the sale, which another auctioneer estimated could have fetched $12 million after its April 22 start. The exhibition in Beverly Hills costs $20 to attend, and auction catalogues - a $50 single volume and $200, five-volume boxed set - were still selling, Julien said.
The statement also said MJJ Productions and Julien's Auction House would be making a "substantial" donation to MusiCares to benefit artists in need.
Julien said all of Jackson's possessions, which the auction house took directly from the Neverland Ranch property, would be returned to the pop singer. He would not say where they would be taken.
"It's been our hopes to resolve this in the beginning, when the lawsuit was filed," Julien said. "It was in our best interest to resolve it. We continue to have great respect for Michael Jackson. ... I guess you could call it the greatest auction that never happened."
The singer has struggled financially following his arrest in 2003 on charges that he molested a 13-year-old boy. A jury acquitted him of all charges.
Last year he faced foreclosure on Neverland, the 1,000-hectare property nestled in the hills of Santa Barbara County's wine country, about 190 kilometres northwest of Los Angeles. He was bailed out by Colony Capital, and months later transferred the deed to Neverland to another entity he partially controls.
Jackson plans a series of concerts in London in July that he has said will be his last in the British capital.
Julien has been entrusted to preside over numerous auctions of famous memorabilia. Some recent celebrity sales have included items once belonging to Ozzy Osbourne, Bob Hope and rare behind-the-scenes footage of Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable on the set of the film "The Misfits."