The Emmy officials claimed the statuette is a loan to recipients and not a gift, adding rules state the trophy should be given back to the Academy upon a winner's death.

Whitney died in 2012 and her heirs were hoping to cash in on the prize as part of an estate sale of Whitney's costumes and keepsakes at Heritage Auctions.

The Emmy the late singer picked up in 1986 for her performance of Saving All My Love for You at the Grammys already had a bid at $10,000 (GBP676,000) on the auction house's website when company bosses were told to pull the item from sale by a federal judge who shut down the sale on Friday (24Jun16).

Heritage bosses insist they will respect the court's decision and the Emmy will be returned to the Houston family.