And Whitney Houston’s Emmy Goes To …

Federal Judge Percy Anderson recently sided with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences concerning the property rights of Emmy Awards. The Television Academy filed a complaint against Heritage Auctions and the estate of Whitney Houston on June 22, 2016, claiming that the award was its intellectual property. They claimed that if the “highly publicized auction is allowed to go forward, it will undermine the prestige of the Emmy Award and tarnish the Television Academy’s reputation , leaving the impression that the highest honor in the television industry is a commodity available for sale to the highest bidder.” On June 23, 2016, Judge Anderson granted a temporary restraining order to prevent the sale of Houston’s 1986 Emmy.

According to the judge, the trophies are loaned to an artist and the Television Academy retains ownership. Judge Anderson agreed with the Academy’s arguments and decided that the statue must be returned to the academy if the family does not want to keep the Emmy Award. The Television Academy will put the award in storage in “memory of the recipient.” The Academy contended that a label on the statue clearly states that the award was academy property and must be returned.

Heritage Auctions, who is handling the estate sale, commented: “We fought the good fight, but we respect the court’s decision. As ordered, the award will be withdrawn from the auction and returned to the Houston family.” The auction, which took place on June 24, earned in excess of $500,000. Interestingly, the President of Heritage Auctions also commented on the fact that more than 36 other Emmy Awards have been sold in the past and the Television Academy let it slide.

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