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FutureStarr2Pac Estate Scores Victory In Battle Over Makaveli Painting
Los Angeles, CA -- (Marketwired) -- Tupac Shakur's estate and his former label Death Row Records are engaged in a battle over an original painting from The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory album cover created by Riskie Forever.
Sekyiwa Shakur, the rapper's sister, filed a lawsuit against Tom Whalley in 2016, who she has been the executor of her mother's estate since. In it she alleges he embezzled millions and refused to return items belonging to Pac.
Tupac Shakur, better known by his stage name Makaveli, tragically passed away from a drive-by shooting in September 1996 at 21 years old. Prior to that incident he had just performed at a concert.
Shakur was raised in New York City and attended Paul Laurence Dunbar High School before transferring to Baltimore School for the Arts where he studied art, poetry and jazz. As a rap competition winner and one of the top MCs in his class, he quickly rose to become one of music's most acclaimed names.
After graduation, Shakur accepted a job as a roadie for hip hop group Digital Underground and soon joined their band. He featured prominently in their hit song "Same Song" from the 1991 film Nothing but Trouble, along with appearing in its accompanying music video.
Afeni Shakur's legal disputes with the rapper's estate began long before she passed away in 2016, when she sought to retain ownership of unreleased songs that would become part of his legacy. The estate is filled with numerous legal documents which often become tangled up, with different individuals owning different pieces of music or other assets.
Some of these issues have been settled, yet others linger. For instance, Sekyiwa Shakur's sister has filed a lawsuit against the executor of her brother's estate over profits made from his albums.
Meanwhile, Shakur's family is fighting to claim ownership of another piece of his legacy - the album cover painting for The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, or Makaveli which was posthumously released two months after his passing in 1996. This artwork designed by Compton, California artist Ronald "Riskie" Brent depicts Shakur as Jesus Christ hanging on a cross.
As you can see, this is a difficult and costly issue to settle. That is why Afeni Shakur's Estate has been working so diligently towards finding an outcome. They have joined forces with Heritage Auctions in order to auction off her painting - which is currently live online auction!
Heritage Auctions announced a victory in the ongoing dispute over Tupac Shakur's iconic Makaveli painting. The Dallas-based company sold a Babe Ruth-signed bat from 1918-1922 for US$1.68 million, as well as Muhammad Ali's World Boxing Council heavyweight championship belt for an astonishing US$6.18 million.
The original artwork for Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (recorded under the alias Makaveli) is a masterpiece, described as "one of music and popular culture's most indelible images." Commissioned by Death Row Records and painted by Compton-based artist Roniskie Brent, this iconic image depicts the late rapper on a cross wearing a crown of thorns while being nailed to it.
Zelus, a company dedicated to revolutionizing how people engage with art and finance, has collaborated with Heritage Auctions to auction off Makaveli painting. Starting today and running through June 18, this one-of-a kind NFT includes an exclusive story from Riskie Forever about its origins.
Heritage Auctions emerged victorious in the battle for this monumental piece of music history, winning by a substantial margin. The museum-quality artwork depicting Tupac on a cross is signed by both Tupac and Death Row Records and boasts an impressive price tag.
Heritage's new location in Dallas is hosting a special event called "HeritageNow," featuring the Makaveli painting alongside other significant moments in American and world history - such as Babe Ruth's autographed baseball bat that set an all-time record for sports memorabilia sales.
In May 2022, Amaru Entertainment and Heritage Auctions both contacted Zelus to demand that his NFT listing be removed. After filing numerous court documents - including Amaru's motion for dismissal - Zelus and Leslie Ware ultimately prevailed in their case before being granted judgment by a Texas judge.
As Tupac's classic album The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory celebrates its 25th anniversary, artist Riskie Forever and crypto/NFT wallet manager Zelus are releasing a series of twenty-five NFTs as an ode to its iconic cover art. This includes a 3D NFT based on the cover image and generative designs inspired by stained glass patterns - all with a sweepstakes where fans can win a portion of the final sale price!
As part of this celebration, Heritage Auctions and Zelus have joined forces to auction off an original painting created for The Don Killuminati: The 7-Day theory. Titled "Makaveli," it depicts a crucified Tupac as Jesus Christ wearing a crown of thorns while being nailed to the cross. Additionally, his pelvis is marked with a parental advisory sticker - an indication that Tupac had struggled with substance abuse issues prior to his death.
In 2015, a fan purchased the original painting by artist Riskie Forever. Since then, Zelus/Heritage Auctions have worked to recover it from its new owner and are currently working to sell the original artwork using cryptocurrency/NFT token (NFT).
Heritage Auctions notes this case is an example of a work-for-hire copyright, which safeguards the creator against unauthorized use of their material. However, the pending case could potentially alter the law and establish precedent regarding works made for hire.
On June 13th, Roniskie Brent, a prominent artist, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in Texas Northern District Court against Zelus and Brent's own company Amaru Entertainment Inc. After being served notice of the lawsuit, Shakur's estate filed an immediate counterclaim to Brent and Zelus' claims of ownership.
In the lawsuit, Shakur's estate asserts that Brent created the painting "for hire," invoking the work-for-hire doctrine under the US Copyright Act. Furthermore, Zelus and Brent allegedly illegally accessed Shakur's property by purchasing the painting on May 17 without authorization from her estate.
Tupac Shakur's iconic Makaveli painting has taken an unexpected turn in his legal battle. According to AllHipHop, a Texas judge has dismissed claims from artist Ronald Brent and Zelus Group that the original work belonged to them.
This painting depicts a cross with Tupac Shakur nailed to it, an idea Shakur had approved before his passing away in 1996. It served as the album cover for Tupac's posthumous release The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, released two months after his passing. This idea was based on Machiavelli's legend that he faked his own death to seek revenge upon those who had wronged him.
When it came to creating the album cover, 'Pac selected Compton, California-based artist Ronald "Riskie" Brent. He presented a rough version to the rapper who approved it. Additionally, Thomas Guide map, compass and cities from around America were added by Brent as decorative elements.
After 2Pac's passing, Brent collaborated with the 2Pac Estate to make his painting available through Heritage Auctions. Additionally, he created a non-fungible token (NFT) that was sold along with the physical artwork; however, this has now become embroiled in legal controversy.
In addition to trying to take possession of the painting from Brent and Heritage, the 2Pac Estate also has its sights set on the NFT, which it claims is a copy of Riskie Forever's artwork for his album. This has ignited yet another battle between them.
Zelus and Heritage Auctions will offer the original painting in an online auction through June 18th, featuring a 1-of-1 NFT with an exclusive story about its creation.
However, if the NFT is a copy of the painting, that could raise questions regarding copyright violations. NFTs are still relatively new asset classes which often lead to legal battles over intellectual property rights.
This case serves as another illustration of how the legal landscape is evolving, redefining what it means to own art and how people engage with it. With more people turning towards cryptocurrencies and NFTs, legal disputes between them and traditional assets like paintings, books or coins will only become more frequent.