Heritage Auctions has suspended the auction of bitcoins.com for at least 14 days.
Mark Karpeles, former CEO of failed exchange MtGox had sought to raise funds from the domain’s sale to pay creditors. The domain belongs to Tibanne, MtGox’s parent company and 100% owned by Karpeles. Heritage estimated that the domain can fetch as much as $750,000.
The internet portion of the auction was to end last night, with the live in-person auction held today in Dallas. The US District Court of Seattle issued a restraining order preventing the auction at the behest of CoinLab, which sued MtGox last year over a failed partnership to market exchange services in North America.
Because of its suit, which goes to trial in November, CoinLab has a vested interest in Tibanne’s assets. Judge Marsha Pechman ruled that there can likely be immediate and irreparable damage to CoinLab if the sale were to go through. The court will consider extending the suspension after the 14-day period.
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Heritage Auction’s spokesman Noah Fleisher said in an e-mail: “Heritage Auctions has withdrawn Bitcoins.com from tomorrow’s auction as a result of a Temporary Restraining Order We look forward to our consignor resolving the matter and to rescheduling the sale.”
The auction’s page on Heritage’s website now says, “This lot has been pulled from the auction, but may be offered again in the future.” and “Bids are no longer accepted and previous bids are cancelled.”
CoinLab CEO Peter Vessenes commented:
“I’m pleased that we will see more judicial oversight and transparency in this litigation. I hope the information Tibanne is directed to deliver will help piece together some answers.”
CoinLab lawyer Roger Townsend noted that the ruling “sends a strong message” to Tibanne that assets cannot be dissipated without court approval.