Tupac Shakur’s sister has filed a lawsuit against the executor of their mother’s estate, alleging financial misappropriation and a failure to distribute Pac’s personal belongings in a “hide and control” strategy. According to Rolling Stone, the suit, filed by Sekyiwa Shakur, accuses trustee Tom Whalley of embezzling millions from Afeni Shakur’s estate. Whalley, who worked closely with Pac and Afeni during their lifetimes, deems the accusation as not only “offensive” but “legally baseless.”
In a hearing on Monday (July 25), Shakur’s lawyers requested that the court appoint an “independent” CPA to perform an audit of the trust and all of its assets, which has yet to be produced despite being requested by Shakur in years prior. Whalley, who previously assured the court in March that an independent firm had been hired to perform the audit, had been ordered by a judge to produce a full accounting of the trust by June 30, a deadline that has since passed.
“(Whalley) has intentionally refused to properly account to the beneficiaries for nearly six years, and even after being ordered to provide a compliant accounting by this court, he has refused again,” states the 31-page lawsuit. “Instead, he and his advisors have renewed their commitment to a years-long pattern of detrimental conduct by withholding critical information and refusing to properly account in accordance with the trust, California law and his own fiduciary duties. Either (Whalley) lacks the capacity or the will to properly account to petitioners, or else he has something to hide.”
Afeni Shakur’s trust includes Amaru Entertainment—which is owned by the estate, but operated by Whalley—and controls the majority of Tupac’s discography, likeness, and other intellectual property. Sekyiwa Shakur believes Whalley may be generously compensating himself in relation to his work with Amaru, as she and her legal team have requested information on just how much money Whalley has received since taking over the label. According to court filings, Whalley allegedly earns a 20% commission from his work with Amaru, a figure which Sekyiwa and her legal team have suggested may be exorbitant.
“When Afeni was alive, she got to make the choices. Now the only one getting to make choices is Mr. Whalley.” Sekyiwa’s lawyer Donald David told Rolling Stone. “There’s a specific provision in the trust that we cite that says the conflict of interest, which is obvious, is waived so long as the compensation that he receives is basically commercially reasonable. This is a different situation from when Afeni was alive and directing things, setting the goals. We aren’t even sure what he’s receiving. We have nothing that makes us comfortable that Mr. Whalley has accurately disclosed the compensation he’s receiving or that it’s proper compensation pursuant to the terms of California law and the trust.”
According to Sekyiwa, she has yet to receive the inherited items originally owned by Pac after Afeni’s death, including multiple cars, gold records, clothing, and the pinball machines included in the “Tupac Shakur: Wake Me When I’m Free” exhibit at Los Angeles’ L.A. Live. Whalley insists that since the exhibit is ongoing, Sekyiwa will begin to receive the personal property belonging to Pac and her mother, as well as his involvement in the estate having proved lucrative, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars in value for Amaru Entertainment since Afeni’s death.
Whalley’s legal team has also highlighted the role their client has played in helping to “preserve, protect and exploit Tupac’s name, likeness, and intellectual property for the Trust and its beneficiaries.” He is credited with acquiring ownership of Pac’s “Thug Life” trademark, as well as master recordings, copyrights, footage, and other material from Death Row Records and Universal Music during that time.
“Over the last five years, Amaru has increased in value by tens of millions of dollars as a direct result of Tom’s sound judgment and business acumen,” states Whalley’s March filings.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for August 10.