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The collection, scheduled to be sold on June 30 at Sotheby's New York as one lot with an estimate of $15m-30m, sold for an undisclosed amount. It focuses on the most active years of Dr King's life from 1946-1968 and contains over 7000 items in King's hand, a bulk of papers and pieces from his personal library hitherto unpublished and unknown, and virtually all of his important 1960s addresses and speeches, including his 1963 Washington March I Have a Dream speech and his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize lecture. Letters, telegrams and correspondence between King and major politicians of the day such as John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon abound, as well as an extensive range of ephemera, from airline tickets to returned cheques, that provide important pieces of biographical data.

The King children decided to find a permanent home for the collected works following the death of Dr King's widow in January this year.

They stipulated that it had to be sold as one lot in the hope that it would be housed somewhere to allow for public access and research.

"This is a wonderful outcome for the collection. I know my mother would have been happy to see it housed permanently in Atlanta, which always meant so much to her and to our family," said Dexter King, CEO of the King Estate.

By Stephanie Harris