UK

Amy Winehouse’s friends issue defence in auction legal row

Two of the late singer’s friends are facing a High Court claim over allegations they benefited from selling her belongings.

Amy Winehouse died in 2011 aged 27
Amy Winehouse Amy Winehouse died in 2011 aged 27 (Niall Carson/PA)

Two “very close” friends of Amy Winehouse have issued their defence against a more than £730,000 High Court claim that they profited from selling the late singer’s personal property at auction.

The star’s father Mitch Winehouse, acting as administrator of his daughter’s estate, is suing Naomi Parry and Catriona Gourlay, alleging the two women sent “various items of personal property owned by Amy during her lifetime” to auctions in 2021 and last year.

It is claimed that by putting the items up for sale “in their own names and on their own behalf” the women “converted” the late performer’s property “to their own use”.

The Valerie singer’s estate is seeking £534,192.90 in damages from Ms Parry while also claiming £198,041.07 from Ms Gourlay.

Mitch Winehouse is administrator of his late daughter’s estate
Amy Winehouse Foundation Ball – London Mitch Winehouse is administrator of his late daughter’s estate

But in an initial written defence filed to the High Court, a lawyer for the two women said the case against them should be thrown out.

Amanda Hadkiss wrote that Mr Winehouse had not shown that the disputed items in the case belonged to his daughter’s estate and that he was entitled to sue the women.

She said it was denied that he “had actual possession of and/or an immediate right to possession” of any of the items, sold through a US auction house, at the time they are alleged to have been “converted”.

The women also deny that Mr Winehouse is “entitled to restitution of the value of the disputed items”.

Ms Hadkiss added: “The defendants (Ms Parry and Ms Gourlay) were very close friends of Amy’s and shared her interest in fashion and style.

“During Amy’s lifetime the defendants and Amy would frequently lend one another fashion items and other items to be worn and/or used by each other.

“In addition, the defendants and Amy gifted fashion items and other miscellaneous items to one another on a number of different occasions during Amy’s lifetime.

“The items gifted by Amy included, but were not limited to, presents, items which Amy had herself been gifted by brands and did not wish to retain, which increased in number as her fame grew, and/or items which Amy no longer considered she had use for.”

The lawyer said of some of the 156 items in dispute: “Amy was not the owner of any of these items at any stage during her lifetime”.

Other items were once owned by the singer, but not by the time of her death, she added.

“Many of them had not been owned by Amy for years before her death,” Ms Hadkiss wrote.

“Amy did not own nor have an immediate right to possession of, nor have actual possession of, any of these items as at the time of her death.”

She added that since Ms Winehouse’s death, Ms Parry and Ms Gourlay had “carried out extensive unpaid work in their own right on a variety of projects aimed at preserving Amy’s career and legacy”.

“The defendants have exercised sole and exclusive dominion as owners over all of the disputed items since at least 2012,” Ms Hadkiss said, save for a couple of items that came into their possession later.

In a November 2023 statement a spokesperson for the Amy Winehouse Estate said: “In 2021, Amy’s estate auctioned items from her life and career with 30% of the proceeds going to the Amy Winehouse Foundation.

“Two individuals sold a number of items at that auction and have retained the proceeds: the items were all Amy related.

“This year they have put more Amy-related items up for auction and together the two auctions have generated six figure sums for each of them.

“The estate has questioned how these items came into their possession and has not had satisfactory answers.

“The estate has, therefore, launched a legal process to clarify the situation.

“The Amy Winehouse Foundation will directly benefit if monies are recovered from either defendant.”

Ms Winehouse died in 2011, aged 27.

After two inquests, her cause of death was revealed to be accidental by way of alcohol poisoning.

Her 2006 album Back To Black made her an international star and won five Grammys, including record of the year and song of the year for Rehab.