Martin Luther King's Bible to be sold after family legal dispute ends

Rev Dr Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. The Bible he used on his travels has been the subject of a legal dispute among his children.Dick DeMarsico

A long-running family dispute over the ownership of a Bible which Martin Luther King Jr travelled with was ended yesterday when a judge signed an order releasing it to his son.

There had been a disagreement about ownership of the Bible - along with King's Nobel Peace Prize - between his three surviving children: his two sons Martin and Dexter Scott who want to sell the Bible and their sister Bernice who does not.

The Bible became famous even before the days of social media, as it was carried everywhere by King in the 1960s as he led the civil rights movement.

The consent order signed by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney says the items are to be released to Martin Luther King III as chairman of the board of his father's estate, according to ABC news.

King's three children are the sole shareholders and directors of the estate, with Dexter as its president and CEO.

During a board meeting in January 2014, the brothers voted 2-1 against their sister to sell the two artefacts to an unnamed private buyer after the items had long been in Bernice's possession. A week later, the estate filed a suit asking a judge to order her to surrender them.

The parties released a joint statement saying the details of the settlement are confidential.

ABC reported that Bernice King said in 2014 that the idea of selling two of their father's most cherished items was "unthinkable". King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. The Bible was used by President Barack Obama during his second inauguration in January 2013.

A lawyer representing the estate said in February 2014 that the brothers voted to sell the two items because the estate needed funds. That same month, McBurney, the judge, ordered the items to be placed in a safe deposit box with the keys controlled by the court.

Yesterday, McBurney ruled that the keys to the safe deposit box are to be turned over to Martin. The bank is reportedly now set to release the Bible, Nobel medal and its accompanying certificate and box to him.

Earlier this summer, McBurney ruled that the Bible belonged to the estate, but Bernice appealed that ruling.

In October, the former President Jimmy Carter confirmed that he was working as a mediator in the case.

Carter said yesterday that he was pleased to work with the King family "to resolve some difficult and long standing issues." He added: "While Bernice has always believed that the Peace Prize and Bible should not be sold, I am grateful that she has agreed not to stand in the way of the Estate's decisions about how to handle the items...As in any mediation, compromises were required, and I am glad that the parties resolved the issues in the interest of the greater good and their parents' legacy."

Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in 1968. His widow, Coretta Scott King, died in 2006. Yolanda King, their eldest child, died in 2007.