In early July, the news broke that a letter by Tupac Shakur to his ex-girlfriend Madonna was being put up for auction.
The emotional 1995 letter revealed that the pair’s relationship ended because of the rapper’s concerns about race, and was set to be auctioned at a starting price of £77,363 ($100,000). “For you to be seen with a black man wouldn’t in any way jeopardise your career,” wrote Shakur. “If anything it would make you seem that much more open and exciting.
“But for me, at least in my previous perception I felt due to my ‘image’ I would be letting down half of the people who made me what I thought I was.
“I never meant to hurt you.”
However, it turns out that Madonna isn’t happy that the letter is being sold – because she thought it was still in her possession.
The singer has now filed a restraining order request with the New York Supreme Court in an attempt to block the sale of the letter.
“I have never sold, gifted, transferred or otherwise disposed of the Shakur letter,” says Madonna in the suit filed against the auction house Gotta Have It Collectibles.
She claims that the person responsible is her former friend and art consultant Darlene Lutz, who consigned the letter to auction.
Almost 20 other personal Madonna items were also slated to go up for auction alongside the letter, including underwear, photos of Madonna with a stripper, a chequebook and a corset. Madonna alleges that all of these items were taken from her illegally by Lutz.
Lutz “betrayed my trust in an outrageous effort to obtain my possessions without my knowledge or consent”, says the singer.
Reuters reports that the sale of the letter has now been temporarily halted until the legal battle is resolved.
The auction house confirmed that Madonna had halted the sale of the letter and other items. A spokesperson told TMZ: “We believe that [Madonna’s] intent is nothing more than to besmirch the good reputations of the auction house and Ms. Lutz.
“Madonna's allegations will be vigorously challenged and refuted in a court of law in due course.”
Madonna and Shakur dated briefly in the early Nineties, when they were two of the most famous musicians in the world. The letter, which can be read in full here, is dated 15 January 1995 and appears to have been written from the rapper’s prison cell while he awaited trial for sexual assault charges.
In it, Shakur apologised to Madonna for not being “the kind of friend I know I am capable of being”. However, he added that he had been upset by racially insensitive comments the Italian-American pop star had made.
“An interview where you said ‘I’m off to rehabilitate all the rappers and basketball players’ or something to that effect, those words cut me deep, seeing as I’d never known for you to be with any rappers besides myself,” he wrote.
The rapper and poet admitted that Madonna’s comments led him to lash out, “out of hurt and a natural instinct to strike back and defend my heart and ego”. However, he wrote that since their break-up he had “grown both spiritually and mentally.”
Shakur seems to have been conflicted about interracial relationships. He was an outspoken advocate for black Americans in the face of white oppression, and publicly spoke out against mixed-race marriages in an interview in 1994, criticising the music producer Quincy Jones (father of Rashida Jones) for marrying and having children with a white woman.
However, he later apologised for his comments – and ended up becoming engaged to Jones’ daughter Kidada, who is mixed-race.
Shakur died in September 1996, six days after being fatally shot in Las Vegas. A film about his life, All Eyez on Me, is out now.
Images: instagram.com/madonna / Rex Features