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Tupac’s Sister Involved in Another Legal Fight for Ownership, This Time Over Rapper’s Album Cover Art and NFT

The sister of late hip-hop legend Tupac Shakur, Sekyiwa Shakur, is involved in multiple battles over her late brother’s estate, which is now worth an estimated $40 million.

She and the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation are suing the longtime executor of the late rapper’s estate, Tom Whalley, accusing him of embezzling $5.5 million. Sekyiwa, who has run TASF since 2016, has asked the court for an independent estate audit, alleging that the accounting provided by Whalley “falls woefully short of compliance with the legal and accounting requirements of the trust,” Rolling Stone reported.

Whalley is the manager of Amaru Entertainment, a record label founded by Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur Davis, to preserve her son’s classic LPs and posthumous albums. Tupac was murdered in 1996 in Las Vegas. Whalley became trustee of the estate upon Davis’ death in 2016.

The estate is also in a legal fight over the sale of an NFT using Tupac album cover art.

Rapper Tupac Shakur performs at the Regal Theater in Chicago in March 1994. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

Tupac’s Last Album Artwork Now An NFT

As most hip-hop heads will recall, Tupac’s last and posthumous album was “The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory.” The cover features a depiction of Tupac nailed to a cross like Jesus Christ. 

The cover was illustrated by Compton, California-based artist Ronald “Riskie Forever” Brent, and the artwork has now been reimagined as an NFT, a non-fungible token. An NFT is associated with a particular unique digital or physical asset that can be sold and traded.

The Tupac NFT auction was announced in May 2022 by Heritage Auctions in Dallas, and it was bundled with the original painting and sold on June 18, 2022, for $212,500.

Riskie Forever sold the painting back in 2015, but NFT distribution company Zelus helped him recover the art and purchased it in October 2021 for an undisclosed sum.

When Shakur’s estate tried to block the NFT auction, maintaining that the art falls under the umbrella of the late rapper’s property. Lawyers for Zelus said as the owner of the artwork, Zelus has the right the sell it as an NFT, Quartz reported.

The estate is pushing back. According to a letter it wrote to Heritage Auctions, the estate “owns all of Tupac’s DRR (Death Row Records) releases and recordings, including…all of the artwork created in connection with those releases and recordings,” according to a letter she wrote to Heritage Auctions. (Tupac was signed to Death Row Records the last few years of his career, signing with Suge Knight’s label in October 1995 while he was in jail.)

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