Houston auctions off clothes to pay debt

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NEW YORK - Grammy-winning pop star Whitney Houston sold off clothes and instruments Tuesday -- along with music awards won by her soon-to-be ex-husband Bobby Brown -- to pay a debt to the warehouse storing the items.

Houston, one of the most celebrated pop artists of the 1980s and 1990s, was ordered to unload the items by the New Jersey Superior Court.

Due to ongoing legal action, the amount raised by the auction will not be released, said Steve Newmark, co-owner of A.J. Willner Auctions, which handled the sale.

More than 400 lots were put up for sale, including pianos, keyboards, organs, drums, designer hats, shoes and outfits from well-known names like Giorgio Armani, Jean Paul Gaultier, Pamela Dennis, Gianni Versace and Dolce & Gabbana.

Among the more intriguing items were "Whitney's Throne" chair, a designer Lucite cocktail stand, a church pew and some of Houston's undergarments.

"One of the things I kept hearing on TV and on the radio was that people want to buy her personal items such as bras and underwear and stuff like that," said fan Jon Recor, who traveled from Montreal, Canada, for the auction.

"God only knows what they would do with them. But if I do happen to win them, what I would love to do is send them back to her because, really, the rightful owner should have them back."

Houston's publicist, Nancy Seltzer, was unavailable for comment on Tuesday, but said last week that the singer was auctioning off old tour equipment that was no longer in use and that part of the proceeds would pay the storage debt.

"It is not unusual for an artist to sell off old equipment and costumes no longer needed," Seltzer said in a statement.

Houston filed for divorce from Brown in September after 14 tumultuous years of marriage and tabloid headlines.

The daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston and cousin of pop star Dionne Warwick, Houston shot to fame with her 1983 debut album and won several Grammy awards over the next decade.

She also found success as an actress, appearing opposite Kevin Costner in "The Bodyguard." She and Brown also starred in television reality show "Being Bobby Brown."

Houston largely retreated from performing after the release of her 1999 album, "My Love is Your Love," but surfaced alongside Brown in the tabloids, which have reported details of their stormy marriage.

In 2000, security guards in Hawaii found marijuana in the couple's luggage. Two years later, Houston admitted in an ABC interview that she had used drugs in the past. She subsequently entered treatment for drug abuse.

Brown also has had run-ins with the law, including arrests for drug possession, assault and drunken driving.
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