Buyers compete for theater once owned by judge

August 20, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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An auction is scheduled in November for the former Slave Theater on Fulton Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant. The theater, which hosted countless African-American political and cultural events, was founded and owned by the late Brooklyn Judge John L. Phillips, who died in 2008.

The theater was last used in 1999, shortly before Phillips  who was known as the “kung-fu judge” because of his interest in martial arts  was declared incompetent and his estate placed into guardianship.

The story of Phillips and the theater is extremely convoluted, involving accusations of theft and incompetence by guardians, tax liens, fights between various relatives over who was the rightful heir to Phillips’ estate, and more.

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Meanwhile, the theater continued to deteriorate. Now, of those who have expressed interest in buying the theater, according to the Daily News, one seeks to keep it as a theatrical venue, but others are interesting in building a condos, a clothing store or a hotel.

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