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Robert Johnson Photos: Mississippi Court Hears Dispute Over Pictures Of Bluesman

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ROBERT JOHNSON MISSISSIPPI
UNSPECIFIED - JUNE 01: Photo of Robert JOHNSON and Robert JOHNSON (GRAVE); Robert Johnson grave in Greenwood, Mississippi. He died on 16 August 1938 at the age of 27 (Photo by Robert Knight Archive/Redferns) | Getty

JACKSON, Miss. — A Mississippi Supreme Court panel has heard arguments about who should make money from the only two known photographs of the late Robert Johnson, a bluesman who myth has it sold his soul to the devil for guitar prowess.

Johnson was destitute when he died in 1938 at age 27. His estate is valuable, partly because of a collection of his recordings that won a Grammy in 1990.

Three justices heard arguments Monday in the photo dispute.

On one side are descendants of Johnson's late half-sister, Carrie Harris Thompson. Their attorney argues the photos were Thompson's personal property but that others profited from them.

On the other side are Sony Music Entertainment Inc.; Johnson's only heir, his son Claud Johnson; and a promoter who had a 1974 contract with Thompson.

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