The longstanding legal battle over the estate of the late hip-hop star 2Pac is heating up. 2Pac’s sister Sekyiwa Shakur is challenging Tom Whalley, the trustee of hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur’s estate, over his control of 2Pac’s multi-million-dollar estate.
Tupac Shakur (who also performed under the name 2Pac) was killed almost 26 years ago in 1996. Considered one of the most influential hip-hop artists of all time, Tupac addressed issues such as social justice, urban decay, inequality, and manhood. In his lifetime, Shakur sold more than 75 million records worldwide.
When he died at the age of 25, his mother, Afeni Shakur, became Tupac’s trustee. Afeni launched Amaru Entertainment, a record label owned by the trust controlling the bulk of Tupac’s music and intellectual property. At the time of his death Tupac had a net worth of less than $105,000 in a checking account. Afeni made several business moves, including releasing new music and starting a fashion line, that help boost the estate.
When Afeni died in 2016, Whalley, a music executive, was named as the estate’s trustee. Whalley, who was instrumental in Tupac’s career and signed him to Interscope, manages Amaru Entertainment, a holding company for all of Tupac’s unreleased material that Afeni founded.
Yet, on July 25, Sekyiwa Shakur told a Los Angeles judge that Whalley had not been completely transparent about Tupac’s estate, arguing that Whalley has a “false sense of entitlement.”
In January, Sekyiwa and the Shakur Foundation accused Whalley of embezzling several million dollars through Afeni Shakur’s estate. The presiding judge ordered Whalley to submit an accounting report. Billboard reports that Sekyiwa attorneys argue Whalley has not complied. In the July 25 filing, Sekyiwa and her attorneys argued that the accounting field “falls woefully short of compliance with the legal and accounting requirements of the trust.” In addition, Sekyiwa argued that Whalley provided financial accountability for “very general categories” of Tupac’s assets. For example, jewelry valued at more than $200,000 did not include any specific inventory of items.
In the initial lawsuit, Sekyiwa alleges that Whalley received $5.5 million over the past five years from Amaru Entertainment. Sekyiwa charges this is “well in excess of what would be reasonably necessary to retain a properly qualified third-party to perform such services.”
“Either [Whalley] lacks the capacity or the will to properly account to petitioners, or else he has something to hide,” Sekyiwa’s lawyers wrote.
Sekywia questions how much Whalley has paid himself since he began heading up Amaru Entertainment. It is alleged that Whalley received a 20 percent commission at Amaru Entertainment, a fee Sekyiwa questions.
“When Afeni was alive, she got to make the choices,” Sekyiwa’s lawyer, Donald David, told Rolling Stone. “Now the only one getting to make choices is Mr. Whalley. There’s a specific provision in the trust that we cite that says the conflict of interest, which is obvious, is waived so long as the compensation that he receives is basically commercially reasonable. ”
Whalley would not comment to media about last week’s hearing, but in Whalley’s March respons he argued that Amaru has been profitable to “preserve, protect and exploit Tupac’s name, likeness, and intellectual property for the Trust and its beneficiaries.” In the five years that Whalley has controlled the estate, he has worked to monetize the use of Tupac’s name and likeness in national campaigns. Whalley also argues that he won the trust ownership of the “Thug Life” trademark while also regaining possession of copyrights and master recordings and video footage from Death Row Records and Universal Music.
Yet Sekyiwa and her attorneys argue that more transparency is necessary from Whalley.
The next hearing over Tupac’s estate will be held Aug. 10.