Belafonte, Sotheby's Cancel MLK Auction

King estate disputes ownership of papers
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2008 9:23 PM CST
This undated photo released by Sotheby's shows Martin Luther King Jr.'s scribbled notes for a speech he had planned to deliver in Memphis, Tenn., three days after he was assassinated.    (AP Photo/Sotheby's)
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(Newser) – Sotheby's has canceled the auction of three Martin Luther King documents amid an ongoing feud between their owner—Harry Belafonte—and the King estate, the New York Times reports. MLK's heirs contend that Belafonte is not the rightful owner of the papers, which include an important King speech on Vietnam casualties and a letter of condolence from LBJ to Coretta Scott King. They were supposed to go up for sale tomorrow.

Sotheby's said it removed the items from auction at the request of Belafonte, who did not comment. The singer knew MLK during the civil rights heyday, and King reportedly wrote the Vietnam speech in Belafonte's apartment. King's family has come under criticism for its handling of MLK's papers and for trying to profit from them, the Times notes.