An inquisitive federal judge in Orange County today left a temporary restraining order intact for at least two more days in the dispute over whether an auction house working for the mother of Kobe Bryant is legally entitled to sell nearly 1,000 pieces of personal memorabilia of the NBA superstar's youth.
Because part of the legal battle is being fought in New Jersey and a ruling about jurisdiction is expected there later this week, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford said he will wait to determine his next move in the Los Angeles Lakers' case.
But Guilford also wondered aloud if the now infamous mother-son courthouse battles were merely a ploy to increase media and public attention to the auction as a sneaky way to boost potential profits.
Mark Campbell, one of Kobe's lawyers, rejected that possibility by claiming the threatened June 27 auction has prompted “extremely emotional” feelings in his client as well as “torn the family apart.”
Guilford stated that a public trial will be a nightmare for the extended Bryant family if they're put on the witness stand to air their personal stories.
“I think there's more here than $1.5 million in memorabilia,” said the judge. “There's hurt feelings and I just wonder if arbitration [in private] isn't the best way [to resolve the dispute].”
Apparently, Kobe's parents don't believe their son has adequately shared the fruits of his estimated $200 million sports empire.
A lawyer for Goldin Auctions LLC insisted they have the legal right to sell the memorabilia for Kobe's mother, want the case handled in New Jersey and hope for a quick legal resolution because the dispute is unfairly tarnishing the reputation of the auction house.
The judge delighted the auction house legal team by tentatively agreeing that they've made “a pretty strong case” that the matter belongs in a New Jersey courthouse.
In a more lighthearted moment near the end of the hearing, Guilford also said, “Perhaps this is a case about a young man who should have cleaned up his bedroom.”
More Kobe memorabilia from Goldin Auctions is on the next page.[