File of Martin Luther King papers surfaces, but who owns them?

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ATLANTA -— Less than a year after a dramatic eleventh-hour deal by a coalition of civic leaders saved a large trove of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s papers and personal items from the auction block, a new cache of his documents has surfaced for sale to the highest bidder.

The owner of an Atlanta auction house, Paul Brown, said he was given the papers by an elderly Maryland woman who wished to remain anonymous.

Mr. Brown said the woman told him she had accepted a large file folder of Dr. King’s letters, speeches and other writings to settle a debt she was owed by a radio station in Atlanta, where she once lived.

Mr. Brown said his auction house, Gallery 63, planned to put them up for bid on April 15.

Dr. King’s heirs say the papers belong to his estate, and they want the auction stopped.

“You can’t auction off what’s not yours,” Isaac Newton Farris, Dr. King’s nephew and the chief executive of the King Center in Atlanta, said Tuesday. “There could potentially be something improper or illegal about to happen.”

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