Singer/actor Harry Belafonte has withdrawn rare documents linked to Martin Luther King, JR. from an auction after the civil rights leader's estate insisted the star had "wrongly acquired" them.
A trio of papers, including a handwritten draft of King's first anti-Vietnam war speech, was set to go under the hammer at New York's Sotheby's auction house on Thursday (10Dec08).
The documents were expected to sell for up to $1.3 million (GBP870,000).
But Belafonte, a prominent civil rights advocate, removed the items from sale while King's estate tries to determine how they came to be in the star's possession.
Isaac Farris, chief executive of the King Centre, says, "The King estate is currently in conversations with Sotheby's to establish the truth."
The Day-O singer allegedly claims the papers were passed on to him from King's wife. Belafonte and King became close during America's civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s.
The other documents include speech notes found on King when he was assassinated in 1968, as well as a letter of condolence from former U.S. president Lyndon B. Johnson to King's wife after his death.