O.J. Simpson book rights to be auctioned in April

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Authorities on Tuesday said rights to O.J. Simpson’s aborted book “If I Did It” would be auctioned on April 17, putting his quasi-confessional tome one step closer to finally being published.

O.J. Simpson during the final day of jury selection in his 2001 "road rage" trial in Miami-Dade County court. Authorities on Tuesday said rights to Simpson's aborted book "If I Did It" would be auctioned on April 17, putting his quasi-confessional tome one step closer to finally being published. REUTERS/Colin Braley

Proceeds from the court-ordered auction, to be held in Sacramento, California, will help satisfy a $33.5 million civil judgment rendered against the former National Football League star in 1997 for the deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

The public auction comes five months after News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch halted plans to publish Simpson’s book about how he could have committed the 1994 slayings had he been the one responsible for the murders.

Simpson has otherwise staunchly maintained his innocence.

A Los Angeles judge ordered rights to the book put up for bid at the request of Goldman’s father, Fred Goldman, who originally condemned it as shameful exploitation but whose campaign to collect on the civil judgment against Simpson has virtually ensured that “If I Did It” will find its way into circulation.

“He can’t cash grief at the bank,” said Goldman’s lawyer, David Cook. “The sheriff is now running the book-of-the-month club.”

Simpson, acquitted in 1995 of criminal charges at the end of a sensational murder trial, has vowed never to voluntarily pay the judgment, and little of it has been collected to date.

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department was assigned to conduct the book auction because the original publisher, News Corp.-owned HarperCollins, has offices in the California capital and its designated agent for “service of process” is located there.

Cook said he had no idea how much rights to the book might fetch at auction.

“Nobody can tell,” he told Reuters. “That is extremely difficult to assess. Who knows who’s going to show up?”

Plans to publish “If I Did It” and to broadcast an accompanying TV interview on the Fox network were both canceled by Murdoch in November amid a torrent of public outrage.

Publisher Judith Regan, who brokered the book deal and conducted the interview, was fired from her HarperCollins imprint, ReganBooks, about a month later.