The archive, which chronicles seven decades of black life in America, was placed up for auction by the Johnson Publishing Co. after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in April.

Historic Ebony and Jet Photo Archives Sold for $30 Million

The archive, which chronicles seven decades of black life in America, was placed up for auction by the Johnson Publishing Co. after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in April, 2019.

Chicago, IL – The Johnson Publishing Company archives, comprising vast numbers of Jet and Ebony magazine photos that chronicled the lives of generations of blacks in America, was recently sold. The group of buyers that purchased the historic photos for $30 million included the J. Paul Getty Trust in association with the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“There is no greater repository of the history of the modern African American experience than this archive,” said James Cuno, president of the J. Paul Getty Trust, the lead purchaser in the consortium. “Saving it and making it available to the public is a great honor and a grave responsibility.”

The historic collection, which consists of more than four million prints and negatives from Ebony and Jet magazines, will go to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.

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