King papers go for more than $130K
Some civil-rights movement history went up for sale Thursday, as papers from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., including speech outlines and letters, brought in more than $130,000 at auction.
They were sold by 88-year-old Maude Ballou, who worked as King’s secretary from 1955 to 1960, through the New York office of Texas-based Heritage Auctions.
A series of handwritten notes outlining one of King’s speeches, his farewell address when he left the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., was the top lot. It sold for $31,250. Two letters King wrote to Ballou from India sold for $18,750 and $17,500. More than 100 items were up for auction. The prices include a 25 percent commission.
One item originally marked for sale was pulled from the auction just before it started. The page was believed to have been from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington, but Sandra Palomino, director of historical manuscripts for Heritage Auctions, said there was some question of whether it was actually part of another speech, so it was pulled. The page was sent to Ballou on Jan. 31, 1968, weeks before King was assassinated, by Lillie Hunter, bookkeeper for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
King’s estate sued the secretary’s son, Howard Ballou, in federal court in Jackson, Miss., in 2011, in a bid to take possession of the items. U.S. District Judge Tom Lee dismissed the lawsuit in March, saying there was nothing to contradict Maude Ballou’s testimony that King gave her the material and that the statute of limitations had passed. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld the decision based on the statute of limitations.
Musical of ‘American in Paris’ eyes Broadway
A stage musical based on the film “An American in Paris” with music by George and Ira Gershwin is aiming for Broadway in 2015 after a stop in — where else? — Paris next December.
Producers said Thursday the new work will be directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon and have a story by Craig Lucas. Bob Crowley has been tapped to make the sets and costumes. The story centers on a romantic tangle in postwar Paris.
The score includes the songs “I Got Rhythm,” “S’Wonderful,” “But Not For Me,” “Stairway to Paradise,” “Our Love Is Here To Stay” and “They Can’t Take That Away.” It will follow on the heels of other recent Gershwin stage hits, “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.”
The 1951 film “An American in Paris” starred Gene Kelly and was inspired by a 1928 orchestral composition by the Gershwins.