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Lucille Ball: Heirs battle over billet doux auction

Saturday 17, July 2010



Legendary comedian Lucille Ball's heirs and her second husband are sparring over the planned auction of some of the couple's prized possessions, including a Rolls Royce and some of the actress' awards.

Other items on the auction block are photos, sketches, other personal items and love letters between Ball and Gary Morton, the comedienne's second husband.

Morton and Ball were married until the comedienne's death in 1989. He later remarried, and the items being offered for sale Saturday were consigned to Heritage Auction Galleries by his widow, Susie Morton.

She is now locked in a battle with Lucie Arnaz Luckinbill, the daughter of Ball and her first husband and "I Love Lucy" co-star, Desi Arnaz, who want some of the items and her mother's awards returned. Susie Morton sued Luckinbill on Monday to seek a judge's ruling that the auction can proceed.

Luckinbill said Wednesday through her attorney, Ronald J. Palmieri, that if the items she requested are not returned, she will go to court Friday morning to try to stop the auction. Luckinbill wants the return of seven love letters, Ball's address book, some portraits and several lifetime achievement awards being offered for sale, Palmieri said.

"It is clear these are personal effects earned by a lifetime of work by someone of great stature in the entertainment community," Palmieri said in a statement. "To demean their true nature, and prostitute their value in monetary terms, is insulting to Ms. Ball's memory and contravenes her express desire that these items were to belong to her daughter after her death."

Both Luckinbill and Susie Morton say Luckinbill was entitled to her mother's personal effects as part of the comedienne's estate planning. But Susie Morton's lawsuit contends Luckinbill abandoned the items when they were distributed after Ball's death. A phone message left for Susie Morton's attorney was not immediately returned Wednesday. Palmieri said the items would go to either a museum named after her mother and father in New York, or another museum where they could be shown.


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