A Beverly Hills auction house that was sued by the Television Academy when it put Valerie Harper’s Emmys on the block has been permanently barred from selling them, according to court papers obtained Thursday.
Harper’s four Emmys from her role as Rhoda Morgenstern on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Rhoda” were valued at $5,000 to $7,000 each on Julien’s Auctions’ website and were set to be auctioned in July.
The Television Academy filed suit, alleging that the awards were the property of the organization and, besides, the sale would undermine the prestige of the award.
U.S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall granted a stipulation Friday for entry of a permanent injunction in which Julien’s is barred from “reproducing, distributing, displaying, promoting, offering for sale, selling, auctioning, advertising or otherwise transferring” the awards.
Harper died in August 2019 at the age of 80.
According to the complaint, the academy repeatedly asked that Julien’s withdraw the Harper Emmys from the sale, but the auction house refused.
John Leverence, who was the top-ranking staff member at the academy’s awards department until he retired at the end of last year, wrote in case documents that the academy “permits all artists so honored to retain possession of an Emmy statuette copy for life, and permits the artists’ heirs and successors in interest to retain custody of the copies to symbolize the achievements of the deceased honorees.”
Leverence further declared that the Television Academy has a policy dating back to at least 1971 — communicated to Emmy recipients — that the Emmy cannot be used for any commercial purpose without the academy’s permission, “and neither the recipient nor his or her successors can sell or transfer the statuette.”
The suit included copyright infringement among its allegations and asked for a court order returning Harper’s statuettes to the academy.