Next judicial battle for Tupac’s NFT auction

Killed on September 13, 1996 in Las Vegas, the legendary rapper Tupac Shakur continues to be talked about, and not just for his incredible talent. His entourage doesn’t stop fighting around rights issues related to his work, and today it’s a visual album story that sets the dust on fire, Quartz explains.

The case concerns the last album of the artist, Don Killuminati: the 7 days theory, released two months after his death and for which he had decided to use his new nickname, Makaveli. On the cover of this album, the work of the Californian artist Ronald “Riskie” Brent, we see a dead and crucified Tupac – note that this visual was validated by the rapper and that the choice precedes his death.

In May 2022, twenty-five years and shortly after the release of this record, its visual was put up for auction, as was the related NFT – in short, this means that the person who acquires this illustration officially becomes the owner of the version. digital, unique and impossible to copy, of this illustration.

But on the side of Amaru Entertainment, a company founded by Afeni Shakur (Tupac’s mother) to manage her image and her heritage, we don’t feel that way. A letter was sent to Heritage Auctions, the auction company that co-organized the sale linked to the 25th anniversary of Don Killuminati.


Since then, the two camps have waged a real battle through lawyers, with this central question: Who really owns the artwork on Tupac’s (aka Makaveli) album? The fight has just begun, Quartz warns.

Despite the email received from the sales managers, it indicated among other things that Death Row Records – record company founded in particular by Dr. Dre and now managed by Snoop Dogg – is the owner of all the recordings and all the visuals related to the ‘work of Tupac, the auction was not canceled.

On June 13, five days before it took place, the lawyers of the Zelus company, whose business is the management and sale of NFT, confirmed that, in their opinion, the sale was perfectly legal. Topic: The album visual would have been pre-sold to an individual, which left Zelus completely free to acquire it from him. This appears to have happened in October 2021, for an undisclosed sum.

Despite the legal back-and-forth, the auction actually took place, and was won for the modest sum of $ 212,500 (about 208,000 euros). But the Shakur family’s lawyers have no plans to stop there, and they plan to take legal action to allow him to recover the NFT ownership linked to this album. But as Quartz points out, the legal fees should be so high that they can far exceed the auction amount …

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