By Amanda Costikyan Jones
WASHINGTON – A Rockville company has unusual plans for the O.J. Simpson football trophy it bought at a Los Angeles auction Tuesday for $4,000.
“We’re going to melt it down on June 12 in Los Angeles,” said Arnold Duke, a vice president of the International Gem and Jewelry Show Inc.
June 12 is the fifth anniversary of the murders of Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.
Duke plans to melt the bronze trophy and mix it with silver to make angel-shaped lapel pins. He hopes to use the pins to raise funds for battered women’s shelters.
“We’re asking people to make a $100 donation to their local battered women’s shelter,” Duke said. In exchange for proof of the donation, “We’ll mail them out one of these pins.”
Duke said one of the charities he hopes to support with the pins is the Nicole Brown Charitable Foundation. Brown’s sister, Denise, declined to comment Friday on Duke’s plan, saying she has not had a chance to talk to him yet.
Duke said he also plans to sell the angel pins at his company’s jewelry shows — 85 a year all over the country, he said — with the proceeds to be donated to battered women’s charities.
Until then, jewelry show shoppers can see Simpson’s 1972 AFC Player of the Year trophy intact.
The football-shaped trophy occupies a place of honor at the “Fabulous Jewelry of the Stars” booth, which offers such items as Natalie Wood’s monogrammed bracelet for $975 and a book of Audrey Meadows’ matches for $35.
Most of the shoppers at the Washington Convention Center for the show Friday walked by without seeming to notice the trophy, but those who stopped said they approved of Duke’s plan.
“I think it’s a great idea. It’s a nice thing to do in her (Nicole’s) memory,” said Karen Cohen of North Potomac. She said O.J. “doesn’t deserve to have that” trophy.
Duke had hoped to get his hands on Simpson’s Heisman Trophy for his angel-pin plan.
“We really had our sights on it,” he said. “I was bidding on it and dropped out at $125,000.”
The Heisman sold to another buyer for $255,500. Fortunately, Duke had bought the AFC Player of the Year trophy earlier in the auction as a backup.
Duke hopes to melt the trophy in front of the Santa Monica, Calif., courthouse, where Simpson was ordered to pay a $33.5 million wrongful-death judgment to the Brown and Goldman families. But, he admits, “We’re not sure if they’re going to let us do it.”
Once again, Duke has a backup plan: to melt the trophy across the street, where his company will be holding a jewelry show that he says has been scheduled for that location for years.
Duke said he was motivated by a desire to bring something positive from the court-ordered Simpson auction, the proceeds of which will go toward paying the wrongful-death judgment.
“Taking one of his prized possessions and turning it into something that raises money (for battered women) … it’s a good lesson for everyone,” Duke said.