Martin Luther King ‘final’ autograph sells for £22,900 at auction


Martin Luther King’s ‘final’ autograph has sold at auction for £22,900 ($28,556).

The iconic signature is on the front of a church leaflet.

Inside is a copy of his final Sunday sermon at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. US.

It dates back to 31 March, 1968 – just four days before he was shot dead while standing on a balcony.

It is thought to be the last ever autograph from the civil rights movement leader, according to Hake’s auction house.

The signature comes in a 10.75×13.75 inch frame.

The bulletin features an image of the cathedral tower.

It reads: “Passion Sunday 31 March 1968.”

It was signed by King on 31 March 1968 – just four days before he was shot dead while standing on a balcony (Credit: Jam Press/ Hake’s)

It is signed by King on the top right of the page.

It reads: “Best Wishes, Martin Luther King”.

There are faint marks due to ageing along top and right edges and minor handling.

It comes with a JSA LOA and a letter from the consignor regarding the circumstances by which the autograph was obtained.

King was invited to speak at the cathedral to help defuse tensions around the approaching Poor People’s Campaign.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference planned their demonstration set to begin in May.

The campaign was a move towards economic justice, as part of the civil rights movement.

King stated at the time: “We believe the highest patriotism demands the ending of the war and the opening of a bloodless war to final victory over racism and poverty.”

The listing reads: “King headed off from Washington and spent two days in Bimini off the coast of Florida visiting Adam Clayton Powell and preparing what would be his final speech, “I Have Been To The Mountain Top.”

”Leaving there he stopped in Atlanta before flying to Memphis April 3, 1968. That evening he delivered his final speech at Mason Temple.

”A drained King retired afterwards to the Loren Motel getting some much-needed rest.

”The following day before heading to dinner he was shot and killed on his balcony.

”The timeline leaves little space for additional autographs.

”In our research we could not uncover any other signatures on this program from King’s final Sunday sermon and turned up no examples of any autographs known to have been penned later than the present offering, leading us to conclude that this is likely the last known King autograph ever offered for auction, and certainly the last known to us.”


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