LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The rights to Marvin Gaye's life story go on the auction block Thursday and creditors with claims of more than $9.2 million against the slain soul singer's estate are eagerly waiting to hear the highest bid.

''We all hope ... that the auction brings in as much money as possible,'' said Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Magnuson, who will represent the federal government in its $4.2 million claim for back taxes, interest and penalties.

In 23 years of performing, the singer-songwriter was noted for the smooth voice and sultry lyrics that graced such trademark songs as ''Sexual Healing,'' ''I Heard It Through the Grapevine'' and ''What's Going On.''

Gaye, who left no will, was shot to death in April 1984 following an argument with his father, 70-year-old Marvin Gay Sr.

Gay pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and is on probation.

Marvin Gaye changed the spelling of the family name when he went into show business.

A portion of any payment made to creditors would come from the sale of television and movie rights to Gaye's life story.

The estate had proposed to sell the rights to Motown Records, where Gaye recorded some of his biggest hits from 1961 to 1981. But creditors such as Gaye's former manager complained that his story is worth more than the record company had agreed to pay.

In response to those complaints, Superior Court Judge Billy Mills, who had tentatively approved the Motown deal, established the auction.

''In my judgment, the moment he uttered those words, I knew that this was an extraordinary decision,'' said Jeffrey Glassman, the attorney for the Gaye estate. ''It's a brilliant stroke.''

The Internal Revenue Service has first shot at any money obtained by the estate, Glassman said.

The complaints that fueled the auction were filed by Marilyn Freeman, Gaye's former agent, and two of Gaye's business associates. Together they are claiming $3.6 million from Gaye's estate, which is valued at about $1 million.

Glassen said it was unlikely they will see anything like the money they are claiming.

''The estate has approximately $250,000 in cash with a big royalty payment due from CBS records. But it won't make a considerable dent into the (total debt of) $9 million,'' he said.

Also adding to the proceeding's unusual atmosphere will be the presence of television cameras in courtroom.

''It's the first time I'm aware of in my 14 years of probate law that there has been television coverage,'' Glassman said.

The coverage will help publicize other assets of the estate, he said.