Rosa Parks artifacts sold for $4.5 million to Buffett son: lawyer

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[August 30, 2014]  (Reuters) - A foundation controlled by the son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett has paid $4.5 million for hundreds of artifacts belonging to civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, a lawyer for Parks' heirs said on Friday.

The artifacts, which include Parks' Presidential Medal of Freedom and a postcard signed by Martin Luther King Jr., were purchased by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation on Aug. 20, said Detroit-area attorney Lawrence Pepper.

Personal papers, notes, letters from presidents, and various awards and honorary doctorates were also among the articles, said Pepper.

"For lack of a better term, she was a pack rat," said Arlan Ettinger, president of Guernsey's auction house in New York, where most of the material was stored. "She had retained many things from her long and rich life."

The foundation was not immediately available for comment. Ettinger said Buffett was not interested in acquiring the collection for himself, but wants to find an appropriate home for it.

Parks, who died in 2005, became a symbol of the civil rights movement by refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. She later moved to Detroit and worked for Democratic U.S. Representative John Conyers.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago and Angela Moore in New York; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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