Ebony Magazine’s Historic Photo Archive Will Be Auctioned to Pay Creditors

Ebony Magazine Covers (Credit: Ebony.com)

It yet another sad turn for Ebony magazine, the publication’s photo archive will soon be auctioned to pay creditors.

The auction will take place in July if a Chicago federal bankruptcy court approves, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The photo collection is made up of  4 million images documenting African-American life.

It includes everything from the civil rights movement to the lives of iconic figures such as Aretha Franklin, Prince, Eartha Kitt, Martin Luther King Jr., Sammy Davis Jr. and Muhammad Ali. There is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of Coretta Scott King taken at MLK’s funeral.

The collection was previously appraised at $46 million, and Ebony tried to sell it without success. This time, opening bids are expected to start at $13 million.

“This is a great opportunity … to rescue this archive and find a way to both preserve and display this very important vision of American history,” said Gabe Fried, CEO of Hilco Streambank, which is holding the auction of behalf of a bankruptcy trustee.

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The auction will only be open to serious buyers, and walk-ins are not welcome, Fried told the Tribune.

“We need to have some assurances that people who are interested in looking at this are sufficiently liquid to participate in the process,” Fried said.

Chicago-based Johnson Publishing sold Ebony and Jet magazines three years ago. The company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in April.

Among Johnson Publishing’s creditors are filmmaker George Lucas and his wife Mellody Hobson, whose Capital V Holdings loaned the struggling company $12 million in 2015.