Petty Family Notches Small Victory in Auction Kerfuffle

Singer's items temporarily taken out of sale block while auction house investigates theft claims
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 25, 2023 7:51 AM CDT
Updated May 26, 2023 8:03 AM CDT
Family to Fans: Don't Buy Tom Petty's Clothes
In this Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, file photo, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers perform at KAABOO 2017 at the Del Mar Racetrack and Fairgrounds in San Diego.   (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP, File)
UPDATE May 26, 2023 8:03 AM CDT

On Wednesday, Tom Petty's family put an auction house on blast and warned fans not to purchase the late singer's items in an ongoing sale, claiming that property had been stolen out of a secured storage site. By Thursday, RR Auction had pulled the memorabilia temporarily from the auction, as a "precaution and in respectful deference to the family," reports the Washington Post. However, Mark Zaid, attorney for the auction house, tells the Los Angeles Times that Petty's family hasn't yet offered any evidence that the items were lifted or that Petty's estate remains the rightful owner. Zaid noted in a statement that his client is "aggressively investigating" the theft claims and would keep the items off the auction block until the matter is "properly resolved," per the Post. He added in a second statement that "we also take seriously any defamatory allegations against our company."

May 25, 2023 7:51 AM CDT

Tom Petty's family is urging the late rocker's fans not to buy jackets, T-shirts, pants, shoes, hats, and other items being sold by a Boston auction house. More than 40 items of Petty's clothing are listed on the website of RR Auction, along with items like signed albums. The family alleges that the items were stolen from a secured archive, Rolling Stone reports. In a statement Wednesday, they said they believe the auction house "is offering stolen Tom Petty memorabilia with a completely false provenance inaccurate to fact and in complete denial of clear evidence they have been presented."

The items include Petty's iconic black-and-white striped jacket. RR Auction will not disclose "who has provided these items or how they were acquired," the family said. "But they are clearly stolen, there is no other word for it," they said, promising "swift legal action" and saying fans should steer clear of the items to "avoid getting further involved in this legal action." Petty died in 2017 at age 66. The auction house says it acquired the clothes after Jane Benyo Petty, the singer's first wife, lost her home to foreclosure in 2015, the Guardian reports.

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On its website, the auction house says contractors disposed of the items after JPMorgan repossessed the home in Encino, California, and "our consignor purchased these items that the bank discarded" in February this year. The company's attorney tells the Guardian that it has been cooperating with Petty's family and "will happily continue to do so without unnecessary hostile threats of litigation." (More Tom Petty stories.)

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