The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences sued Whitney Houston’s estate and a Beverly Hills auction house Thursday to block an upcoming sale of the late singer’s Emmy trophy.
The academy, which presents the Emmy Awards, contends it owns the rights to the trophies, and that the statuettes are nontransferable.
Heirs can continue to keep the award “to symbolize the achievements of the deceased honorees,” but the statuettes cannot be sold, according to the suit filed in Los Angeles federal court.
Houston, who died in 2012, won the Emmy in 1986 in recognition of her performance of “Saving All My Love for You” at a televised Grammy ceremony.
Also named in the suit is Heritage Auctions, which is presenting a two- day auction Friday of Houston’s possessions. The auction is authorized by the late songbird’s family.
“If Heritage’s 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,” the academy wrote in the suit.
A message left with a Heritage spokeswoman was not immediately answered and attempts to reach a representative of Houston’s estate were unsuccessful.
Houston, 48, was found dead Feb. 11, 2012, in her room at the Beverly Hilton, the weekend of that year’s Grammy Awards.
— Wire reports