LOS ANGELES, April 14, 2009 – A huge sale of items belonging to former "King of Pop" Michael Jackson due to take place next week has been cancelled, the auction house organizing the sell-off confirmed.
Martin Nolan, executive director of Julien's Auctions, told AFP that the hotly anticipated sale had been scrapped after a settlement had been reached with the eccentric pop star's legal team.
Jackson's management company had been attempting to halt the April 22-25 auction despite earlier approving the sale and co-operating with Julien's.
"I can tell you that both parties today agreed not to move forward with the auction on April 22," Nolan told AFP. "The collection will stay together to be returned to Michael Jackson and MJJ Productions."
The terms of the settlement were not disclosed but Nolan said both parties were happy with the deal.
More than 1,300 items -- including a customized Rolls Royce limousine and dozens of Jackson's concert costumes -- had been due to go under the hammer in Beverly Hills in an auction expected to raise millions.
Items up for sale had been taken from Jackson's sprawling Neverland Ranch in California, which the singer left and has never returned to following his acquittal on child abuse charges in 2005.
All the auction lots were on display Tuesday at a public exhibition ahead of the sale which had sparked worldwide interest from memorabilia collectors and Jackson fans.
Jackson's production company MJJ Productions had contracted Julien's to arrange an auction of Neverland items last year before suddenly seeking to halt the sale in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles last month.
A judge said the sale could ahead at a hearing on April 3, although Jackson's lawyers had been due to argue for an injunction at a further hearing scheduled for Wednesday in Los Angeles.
Nolan said he believed that the reaction of Jackson's fans following news of the auction had made the singer think twice about going ahead with the sale.
"There was such a sentimental reaction from fans all over the world about the dispersal of the collection from Neverland that it made Michael aware of the level of the loyalty of the fans," Nolan told AFP.
Nolan said while he expected prospective buyers would be disappointed by the cancellation "there's going to be rejoicing as well because at the end of the day there was a touch of sadness about the dispersal of Neverland."
"But now it's going to stay together and there will eventually be a permanent museum," he said. Nolan would not speculate on where any future Jackson museum was likely to be placed.
Jackson, who dominated the pop world with hit albums like "Thriller" and "Bad" in the 1980s, has virtually vanished from public view since being cleared at his "Trial of the Century" in California four years ago.
Jackson is currently preparing for a series of comeback concerts in London in July. Tickets sold out within hours when they went on sale.