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Elvis Memorabilia Lawsuit Resurrected by Appeals Court

Heirs of Presley's friend seek proceeds from auctioned items

Elvis Presley's red suede jacket worn on the "Jailhouse Rock" 45 cover on display in New York City. Credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

An appeals court yesterday allowed the heirs of a friend of Elvis Presley's to go forward with a lawsuit over Elvis memorabilia they claimed was stolen and auctioned off, Reuters reports. John Tate and Normal Deeble, the heirs to Presley pal and fan club president Sterling Gary Pepper, had filed the lawsuit in 2009 over $218,000 in auction proceeds. The pair, taking on the suit in place of their late cousin, accused Pepper's former caretaker Nancy Pease White of stealing the memorabilia when Pepper moved to a disabled home.

An Iowa district court had ruled Pepper's family took too long to file the lawsuit and did not block the auction, which pulled in $1,400 for two dried white roses from Presley's funeral, $15,000 for hair that was cut when Elvis enlisted in the Army and $28,000 for a red suede shirt worn by Elvis.

Deeble told the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals that her family was unaware of the memorabilia's existence and thus were unable to file the lawsuit earlier, and a three-judge panel revived revived the case and sent back to the lower court. The $218,000 in proceeds, along with a painting of Elvis and wife Priscilla Presley, are being held by a third party while the case proceeds.

Last month, Elvis' original crypt was yanked from the auction block, with bids starting at $100,000.