Ebony photo archive to be auctioned to pay creditors

The collection of 4 million images chronicles the civil rights movement and the lives of prominent figures such as Billie Holiday and Muhammad Ali.
Image: John H. Johnson
John H. Johnson, publisher of Ebony Magazine and owner of Johnson publications in 1974.Bettmann Archive

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By The Associated Press

The photo archive of Ebony Magazine that chronicles African American life is to go on the auction block in July if a Chicago bankruptcy court approves.

The collection is being auctioned to pay off secured creditors of Johnson Publishing. The former magazine publisher filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in April.

Johnson Publishing sold its Ebony and Jet magazines three years ago. The Chicago-based company has tried since 2015 to sell its photo archive. The collection of 4 million images chronicles the civil rights movement and the lives of prominent figures such as Billie Holiday and Muhammad Ali. It was once appraised at $46 million.

The auction would recover money owed secured creditors filmmaker George Lucas and Mellody Hobson, whose Capital V Holdings loaned $12 million to Johnson Publishing.

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