The Bible and Nobel Peace Prize belonging to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is being locked away in a safe deposit box pending the outcome of a legal dispute over who owns the items. King’s estate is controlled by sons Martin Luther King III and Dexter King. Their lawyers filed a complaint in January asking a judge to order their sister, Bernice King, to turn over the items. After several hours of deliberation Fulton County (GA) Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney says he believes the estate has a legal right to the items and is holding them until the dispute is settled. One side wants the items sold, while the other does not.
"I find that, at this point, that is a fair, equitable balance of the competing interests," McBurney said. William Hill, a lawyer for the King estate, said the Bible and Noble Peace Prize belong to the estate under a 1995 agreement in which King's heirs signed over their rights to some of the items they inherited from him. Eric Barnum, a lawyer for Bernice, said his client doesn't believe those items are part of the estate and doesn't believe her father's most cherished possessions should be sold.
The three surviving King children are all board members of the estate, and they held a special board meeting in late January to vote on a proposed sale of the bible and peace prize, Hill said in court. They voted 2-1 in favor of the sale, with Bernice being the dissenting vote.
Hill urged the judge to issue an immediate order asking Bernice to turn over the items, saying the money that would come in from the sale or lease of the items was crucial to the estate's viability.
It's a sad chapter in the King family saga.
Coretta Scott King, died in 2006 and Yolanda King, the eldest child, died in 2007. That left the three remaining siblings as the sole shareholders and directors of their father's estate, but their relationship has deteriorated over legal battles.
Rest in peace to the Good Doctor, who's watching his children from up high, displeased with this type of squabbling and embarrassment of the King family name.