NEW YORK (Reuters) – A New York state judge on Thursday said an online auction of Madonna’s personal items including worn satin panties, a hair brush with her hair, and a break-up letter from a former boyfriend, late rapper Tupac Shakur, cannot go forward.
Supreme Court Justice Gerald Lebovits in Manhattan let stand his July 18 temporary restraining order blocking the sale of 22 items by Gotta Have It Collectibles. Lebovits will on Sept. 6 consider whether to issue a preliminary injunction.
Darlene Lutz, a former friend of Madonna, had consigned the items for auction. Madonna’s lawyers said they were stolen after Lutz helped the Material Girl, whose given name is Madonna Ciccone, move out of a Miami home in the mid-1990s.
At a hearing, Lebovits said “Ms. Ciccone has made a strong likelihood” of showing she would prevail, and said he “sincerely doubts” she lost her rights by waiting two decades to sue.
“There is no prejudice to Ms. Lutz or to the auction house, because if anything the property will increase in value if the court finds for Ms. Lutz,” the judge added.
Lutz’s lawyer Judd Grossman and Madonna’s lawyer Brendan O’Rourke declined to comment.
The 22 items were among 128 up for an auction that was to have begun on Wednesday.
Madonna claimed in court papers she would face “irreparable harm” from a sale of “extremely private and personally sensitive belongings.”
But Grossman said she gave up her rights in a 2004 settlement with Lutz, with whom she had a falling out.
“Every day this TRO remains in place … is another day that the world believes my client is a thief,” Grossman said.
O’Rourke countered that the 58-year-old singer “has lots of personal items, as you can imagine,” stored in many places, but this did not make them “any less” hers.
“My client frankly wasn’t thinking about these specific items until she saw them being auctioned,” he said. “That’s when the light bulb went on over her head.”
O’Rourke said it was only recently that Lutz unlawfully took possession, after Madonna learned where the items were, asked for their return, and was refused.
Lebovits held the hearing after Grossman complained that the TRO was issued at Madonna’s behest before he could object.
The judge found no foul play, alluding to a song from Madonna’s 1990 album “I’m Breathless.”
“I wanted to know whether there was any hanky panky on the part of the plaintiffs,” Lebovits said.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish