Extravagant Jesse Jackson, Jr. auction called off after authenticity issue
Just when life looked like it couldn't get any worse for disgraced Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., it has.
An auction to help the Chicago Democrat repay the $750,000 in campaign funds that he illegally spent on personal items has been canceled after the U.S. Marshals Service received "legitimate concerns" about the authenticity of one of Jackson's forfeited assets: a guitar purportedly signed by Michael Jackson and Eddie Van Halen.
The auction, which was held online through auction house Gaston & Sheehan at txauction.com, began Tuesday, and conspicuously only had 12 items listed—despite a U.S. Marshals press release promising 13 of Jackson's treasures would be open for bidding. The guitar was not listed, but other memorabilia included framed, matted albums, such as Michael Jackson's "Blood on the Dance Floor."
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Bruce Lee photos were also among the collection, as were items that displayed Jackson's taste for the extravagant: two mink-lined cashmere capes, a woman's mink black jacket with silver fox sleeves, and a fur, mink-hooded parka.
The auction was to run through Sept. 26 and sales were to be subtracted from how much Jackson owes.
On Friday, the U.S. Marshals Service said in a statement that it was conducting a "secondary review of all the assets."
"The Marshals Service takes its responsibility to fulfill the asset forfeiture mission very seriously," said Kim Beal, acting assistant director for the Asset Forfeiture Division of the U.S. Marshals Service. "Because new information has come to light, we are taking additional steps to review all the items. It is our practice to be diligent about all matters relating to the management and sale of assets."
Jackson, 48, was sentenced to two and a half years of prison last month after he pleaded guilty in February to using campaign funds for personal expenses. He is to report to prison in November.
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Jackson's wife, Sandra, was also sentenced to a year in prison for filing false joint federal income tax returns.
Jason Rzepniewski, an auctioneer at Gaston & Sheehan, said this is not the first big name his auction house has been asked to represent for U.S. Marshals. The auction house also auctioned off some of Bernie Madoff's assets.
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—By Elizabeth Chuck, Staff Writer, NBC News