Legendary “Star Wars” producer George Lucas, along with his wife, Mellody Hobson, are vying for possession of Ebony magazine’s historic photo archives, which include iconic images of Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.
On Wednesday, Capital Holdings V, an enterprise run by Lucas and his financier wife, filed a motion in Chicago’s federal Bankruptcy Court seeking to foreclose on the archives, citing risk to their loan repayment for $12 million and the photo collection itself, according to the Chicago Tribune. The archives were used as collateral for a loan the couple made to now-bankrupt Johnson Publishing four years ago.
The Ebony photo collection, which encompasses 5 million images and videos, was appraised for $40 million in 2014. Since Johnson Publishing was sold three years ago, and earlier this month the magazine filed for Chapter 7 liquidation, the valuable archive asset has been in limbo. Company officials have tried unsuccessfully to sell it for more than four years.
In a company statement Thursday, Lucas and Hobson expressed the importance of preserving the archives.
“The Johnson Publishing archives are an essential part of American history and have been critical in telling the extraordinary stories of African American culture for decades,” the company said. “We want to be sure the archives are protected for generations to come.”
Ebony, founded by publishing pioneer John H. Johnson, published its first issue on Nov. 1, 1945. In 1951, its sister magazine JET was born. In 1969, the magazine would received a Pulitzer Prize for its photo of Coretta Scott King and her children grieving during Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral.
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