MORRISTOWN, N.J. (CN) - Whitney Houston's estate claims in court that a company it hired to sell her house changed the locks, chained the gates and denied it access to the property after the bank approved its sale, leaving it unable to retrieve the late singer's personal possessions.
Marion Houston, Whitney Houston's manager and sister-in-law, sued CPMG Mendham LLC and Diego Cevallos in Morris County Court. Marion Houston, executor of the estate, says she hired the defendants to sell the late singer's house in December 2013.
Houston says the contract to sell Whitney Houston's Mendham, N.J., home "provided for the sale of the property only, and did not include any provision for, or make any reference whatsoever to, the sale of any of the personalty."
According to the 11-page complaint, Wells Fargo, the mortgage holder, approved the short sale of the house in February, but "despite defendants' initial agreement to allow the personalty to be removed from the property ... defendants have repeatedly refused to allow the Estate to enter the property and recover the personalty."
She claims that "even before the Estate was notified that the sale was finally approved by Wells Fargo, defendants or their representatives changed the locks on the house and chained the gates to the property, thereby preventing the Estate from gaining access to recover the personalty."
Houston claims she discovered the premises were inaccessible after "a representative of the Estate arrived at the property with movers, a moving van and a truck to begin removing the personalty and found that the gate had been chained and the locks on the house changed."
She adds: "In fact, the parties expressly discussed arrangements for the Houston Estate's movers to pick up and remove the personalty on several dates in February, all of which were canceled on short notice by defendants."
The estate made two separate requests in March this year for access to the house, both of which were denied, Houston claims.
She says, "the items of personalty that have been withheld by the defendants include a baby grand piano, a jukebox, valuable paintings, and home furnishings and other items that belonged to Whitney Houston."
"Ms. Houston's family members have a strong emotional attachment to many of the items" and "some of these items have considerable financial value and would hold particular financial value to Ms. Houston's fans and other collectors because they belonged to Ms. Houston," the complaint states.
According to public reports, the late singer's five bedroom, four bathroom, 12,561-square-foot mansion house was sold in February for just under $1 million.
USA Today reported that the home was the site of Houston's 1992 wedding to singer Bobby Brown, an event that drew 700 attendees. Brown, who divorced Houston in 2007, is not a party to the case.
The estate seeks damages for conversion and wants an injunction to prevent the defendants "from transferring, concealing, disposing, selling, using, encumbering or otherwise exercising dominion and control over the personalty."
The estate is represented by David Sellinger with Greenberg Traurig of Florham Park, N.J.