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Judge rules Wacko Jacko fire sale legal

A UNITED States judge on Friday denied Michael Jackson's attempt to rescue his Neverland Ranch possessions from an auction that will include memorabilia from the height of his 1980s popularity, but the pop star will get another hearing before the sale.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brett Klein ruled in favor of Julien's Auction House, which plans to sell about 2,000 Jackson items in Beverly Hills, California, on April 22-25.

Jackson's production company filed a lawsuit seeking the return of some items on March 4, the same day auctioneer Darren Julien arrived in Ireland to unveil the items on a tour. "We're still just as puzzled and baffled by this whole thing as we were when it first happened," Julien said.

Julien last year signed an agreement covering the sale with Dr Tohme Tohme, who is with Jackson's production company and serves as the singer's spokesman. The auctioneer said that he still does not know exactly which items Jackson wants back.

An attorney representing Jackson was not returning calls.

The singer's father, Joe Jackson, attended the court hearing on Friday but the pop star was absent.

The auction items in the catalogue include clothing, such as a rhinestone-covered equestrian cap, imperial-style military jackets and shiny belts.

There are also awards, statues, toys, furniture and a piece of scribble art created by child actor Macaulay Culkin in 1991.

Julien said he has spent US$2 million preparing the sale, and that the auction could fetch more than US$10 million.

Jackson's attorneys have asked Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ernest Hiroshige to issue an injunction blocking the sale and that hearing is scheduled for April 15.

But Julien's attorney, Jerry Hawxhurst, said Klein's ruling sets the matter to rest.

The sale items come from Jackson's 1,133-hectare Neverland Ranch. Jackson last year averted a foreclosure sale on Neverland, and later handed over the title to a company made up of himself and the firm that held his loan on the property.


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