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Yahoo to auction O.J. Simpson items

The portal is expanding its online auctions, getting off to a quick start with memorabilia seized from O.J. Simpson's home.

Yahoo is expanding its online auctions, getting off to a quick start with memorabilia seized from O.J. Simpson's home.

The February 1 sale will feature Simpson's 1968 Heisman Trophy, his No. 32 football jerseys from the Buffalo Bills, autographed photos, furniture, decorative arts, and paintings. The Simpson property is being sold by order of a California court with proceeds to be paid to the Brown and Goldman families, relatives of his slain wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman. Simpson was acquitted of their murders in a sensational 1995 trial.

In a new partnership with venerable San Francisco auction house Butterfield & Butterfield, Yahoo Auctions will let online users bid on the Simpson possessions.

Also up for online bids later this month are Hollywood memorabilia being auctioned off by Butterfield, which has been in business since 1865.

Auctions are a hot sector in Internet commerce, fueled by the stock market success of person-to-person auction site eBay. Yahoo's auction area features a person-to-person area that, unlike eBay's, is free to buyers and sellers. Online auction house Onsale provides the back-end technology for Yahoo's person-to-person auction.

The new partnership infuses the auctions section of Yahoo with higher-priced items that Butterfield has authenticated as legitimate.

For a February 15-16 auction on Simpson possessions and Hollywood memorabilia, registered users of Yahoo Auctions can bid simultaneously with those who show up in person for a Butterfield auction in Los Angeles.

Online auctions of unique items have had mixed success so far in their early lives. Last month, eBay and traditional auction house Guernsey's teamed up to sell baseball memorabilia at a combination event held simultenously online and on a real auction floor. The ball that home-run king Mark McGwire hit out of the park for his record 70th homer sold for more than $3 million, but online bids for that ball and others came nowhere near the asking prices.

Also, bidding for the baseball items was conducted online for a week, then closed for final sales in person and over the phone.

Yahoo will work with Butterfield to auction fine art, collectibles, memorabilia, and antiques. Movie memorabilia up for bid later this month include vintage film posters, props, costumes, and collectibles.

"Working with Yahoo Auctions, we are joining the experience and history of one of the most established names in the auction world together with the expertise of one of the Internet's most recognized brands," George Noceti, Butterfield senior vice president of Internet auction services, said in a statement.

After registering, Yahoo Auctions users can preview Butterfield auction lots and participate in online bidding. They also can buy catalogs for future auctions from the Butterfield Web site.

For live, online auctions, Yahoo will use technology from LiveBid.com. Online users must register by February 12 to listen, watch, or bid in real-time. Those who want to attend in person have until February 15 to sign up.