By Roberts, Johnnie L.
Newsweek , Vol. 130, No. 9
Lawsuits plague rapper Tupac Shakur's estate
RAP STAR TUPAC SHAKUR'S ASHES had hardly cooled before the gold rush began. Now, almost a year after his death, his mother is defending the estate from an old lover who turned up to prove he's Tupac's father. An Arkansas court has already awarded $16.6 million to a woman who was shot at a Tupac concert. Until a tentative settlement last week, Tupac's label, Death Row Records, was demanding a $7 million slice, and its imprisoned CEO wanted millions more. Even C. Delores Tucker, the gangsta rap foe, wants a chunk. She and her husband claim that a lyrical attack by Tupac iced their sex life. "It's like being on a ship and watching pirates trying to loot it," says attorney Richard Fischbein, who administers the estate with Tupac's mother, Afeni Shaknr.
As Thomas Mann wrote, "A man's dying is more the survivors' affair than his own." Since Tupac was murdered last September, his multimillion-dollar legacy has become the contentious affair of kin, colleagues and alleged opportunists from L.A. to Australia. In his lifetime, Tupac's profane rap lyrics and violent encounters made him controversial, helping to swell by tens of millions of dollars the coffers of Death Row and its corporate benefactors, Interscope Records, Time Warner and Seagram's Universal (formerly MCA).
Yet Tupac was almost broke when he died. Alleging massive fraud and conspiracy, Fischbein and Afeni Shakur sued Death Row, its jailed CEO, "Suge" Knight, and its lawyer, David Kenner. They owed Tupac at least $9.9 million, the suit alleged, and $7.1 million more in expenses charged to his account that he hadn't incurred, including $120,000 for a house Kenner rented. As of last Friday, the estate was close to settling on its terms, according to Fischbein. Even before that, he adds, there was $7 million on hand from royalties and movies. A settlement could ultimately push the estate's value to $50 million, estimates one person close to the matter. …