Some of Lucille Ball’s love letters, awards, photos, and a Rolls Royce were set to be auctioned off on Saturday. Heritage Auction Galleries was selling the items on behalf of Susie McCallister Morton, the widow of Gary Morton. He was Ball’s second husband and an executive producer on Here’s Lucy and Life with Lucy. Susie Morton married him after the death of Ball in 1989. They were married for three years. Gary Morton died in 1999 and his belongings went to his widow as part of his estate.
Lucie Arnaz Luckinbill, the daughter of Ball and her first husband Desi Arnaz, sought to obtain the Morton/Ball love letters and Ball’s lifetime achievement awards after Susie Morton put them up for sale. Luckinbill said that she wanted to donate them to a museum.
Some of the items were reportedly left to Luckinbill after her mother’s death but Morton claims that she failed to collect them. Luckinbill threatened legal action over the auction. Morton sued Luckinbill earlier last week, seeking a judge’s order to allow the sale to go through. Luckinbill in turn sought a restraining order on Friday to stop the next day’s auction.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert O’Brien agreed to block the sale. As part of that, he imposed a $250,000 bond that Luckinbill would have to pay to get a restraining order issued.
Luckinbill’s attorney, Ronald Palmieri, said the amount was too high to be met. He said, “We won on a legal basis, and the judge took it away from us on an economic basis. That is very sad.”
However, Heritage later said that, as part of a deal reached Saturday, the auction house would returning her mother’s lifetime achievement awards to Luckinbill. The rest of the items in dispute remained on the block.
According to Heritage, the auction of personal items and memorabilia brought $230,000. Items that were sold included a variety of purchased paintings, costume sketches, several backgammon sets, china, porcelain figures, and Morton’s trumpets. The highest grossing item was the 1984 Silver Spurs Rolls Royce which sold for just under $30,000.
What do you think? Was Luckinbill entitled to the her mother’s property? Do you agree with the outcome?