Tupac Shakur’s sister has sued the longtime executor of the late rapper’s estate, accusing him of embezzling millions of dollars.
In a lawsuit filed Monday in a Los Angeles superior court (via Billboard), Sekyiwa Shakur — Tupac’s sister and the daughter of Shakur’s mother Afeni — and the Tupac Shakur Foundation accused Tom Whalley, who has been the executor of Tupac’s estate since Afeni’s death in 2016, of taking $5.5 million over the past five years from Amaru Entertainment, a record label founded by Afeni and now managed by Whalley that is charged with Tupac’s classic LPs and posthumous albums.
“Whalley has already received more than $5.5 million that he has paid himself in the last five years through Amaru,” the lawsuit states. “He has effectively embezzled millions of dollars for his own benefit well in excess of what would be reasonably necessary to retain a properly qualified third-party to perform such services. As a result, Whalley has unreasonably enriched himself at the expense of the beneficiaries and in bad faith by taking excessive compensation in a position from which he should properly be barred based on the inherent conflict of interest.”
Tupac left his estate to Afeni as the sole beneficiary upon his shooting death in 1996. When Afeni died in 2016, all of her “tangible personal property” was left to Sekyiwa, who argued in the new lawsuit should include the items that Afeni inherited from Tupac. However, according to Sekyiwa, the Whalley-run estate is withholding those items from her for “investment purposes.”
“Among those items are: Tupac’s cars; a multitude of plaques and awards (including but not limited to so-called Golden Records; Tupac’s pinballs and games; Tupac’s renowned jewelry; Tupac’s artwork and sculptures; items of Tupac’s clothing, shoes and accessories; and furniture taken from his homes upon his demise,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also cites numerous instances of alleged “malfeasance,” including allowing the sale of an estate-owned houseboat to benefit one of its trustees instead of the trust itself.
Sekyiwa’s lawyers Donald David and Joshua Mandel also accuse the Tupac estate of not sharing financial information with the non-profit Tupac Shakur Foundation, of which Sekyiwa is the president; the estate has argued that the Foundation is not entitled to that information. David and Mandel did not respond to Rolling Stone’s request for comment at press time.
The lawsuit adds, “Because [Sekyiwa and the Tupac Shakur Foundation] have yet to receive an accounting compliant with the terms of the Trust and the governing law, they do not know the full scope of Whalley’s malfeasance and misfeasance, but it is clear that he has used and abused his powers as Executor and Special Trustee of the Estate and the Trust to convert the personal property belonging to Sekyiwa as a piggy bank from which he has drawn substantial funds for his own benefit.”
In a statement to Rolling Stone, Whalley’s lawyer Howard King denied the allegations against the Tupac estate executor, noting that Afeni herself had worked with Whalley since the mid-Nineties.
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“Tom Whalley was a friend and confidant of Tupac and his mother, Afeni Shakur, since signing Tupac to his first major recording deal in the Nineties and helping to arrange the funds to bail Tupac out of jail,” King said. “After Tupac passed away, Afeni requested Tom’s help with the job of managing the Tupac assets Afeni had inherited, a task he performed, without charge, for many years. In 2015, at Afeni’s request, Tom became the manager of Amaru, the company Afeni had established to protect and exploit all Tupac assets, on normal and typical terms. Under Tom’s management, enhanced by various personal loans Tom has made to the company, Amaru has gone from virtually insolvent to a solid financial footing. Afeni’s faith in Tom was further evidenced by her appointment of Tom as successor trustee of her trust. Tom became the current trustee after Afeni passed away, but has never taken any trustee’s fees even though his workload has increased well beyond what his management of Amaru required.”
King continued, “These legal claims are disappointing and detrimental to all beneficiaries of the trust. We are confident the Court will promptly conclude that Tom has always acted in the best interests of Amaru, the trust, and all beneficiaries.”