Sotheby's filed a lawsuit Friday against pop superstar Michael Jackson, who the auction house claims has yet to pay nearly $1.4 million dollars for two 19th century paintings he purchased last October

Sotheby's filed a lawsuit Friday against pop superstar Michael Jackson, who the auction house claims has yet to pay nearly $1.4 million dollars for two 19th century paintings he purchased last October.

The suit, filed in Manhattan federal court, alleged Jackson's Los Angeles company MJJ Productions successfully bid on two paintings by French artist William Adolphe Bourgereau on Oct. 29, 2002. One of the paintings shows Cupid removing a thorn from his foot and the other is a portrait of a young woman with a child and a sheep.

Sotheby's asked payment of $1,324,247 for the paintings plus at least $60,733 in late fees. The auction house said Jackson does not dispute that his company bought the paintings or that he has been billed for them.

"Rather the reason stated for MJJ's failure and refusal to pay for the property is that Michael Jackson now believes the property ... no longer fits into Michael Jackson's collection contrary to his previous review," the suit alleged.

Brian Wolf, a lawyer representing Jackson, said MJJ was surprised that Sotheby's had decided to file the suit. "We remain confident that the matter will be resolved with Sotheby's," he said.

He confirmed that Jackson was no longer interested in keeping the two pieces after finding they did not fit into his collection as he had expected. Wolf said that MJJ offered to give them back to Sotheby's for reselling, but the auction house refused.

Diana Phillips, senior vice president for the New York auction house, said Jackson had been a client in good standing for a number of years and this was the first time there had been a problem and "we hope it is the last time. When Mr. Jackson's company bought these two paintings, it was his obligation to pay for them immediately," she said.

She said Sotheby's had made repeated requests for payments during some 20 conversations over the past few months, but "we had no choice but to take this action."


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