Madonna on Monday lost a nearly year-long bid to stop an auction of intimate items including a breakup letter from rap legend Tupac Shakur.
A judge ruled that the Material Girl had directed her legal action against the wrong target in going after Darlene Lutz, a New York art dealer and former friend who helped Madonna build a collection before falling out with her.
Lutz had been the main source for 22 items including love letters, cassettes and a hairbrush that were up for sale by auction house Gotta Have Rock and Roll until a judge issued an injunction in July.
New York Judge Gerald Lebovits, in a ruling based on narrow legal grounds rather than on Madonna’s claims of violations of privacy, agreed with Lutz who said that her disputes with Madonna were settled in a 2004 legal agreement between the two.
Lebovits, in a decision dated last week but made public Monday, also questioned why Madonna was pursuing Lutz and not the singer’s assistants who Madonna said had handed items to the art dealer.
“If plaintiff’s allegations are accepted as true — that Lutz received the letters through inadvertent actions of the plaintiff’s assistants,” Lebovits wrote, then her case against Lutz is “time-barred and improper.”
The items up for auction — part of a collection of some 100 pieces — included a 1995 letter from Tupac, who would be shot dead a year later. Madonna has only recently spoken publicly about their then-secret relationship.
In the letter breaking up with Madonna, Tupac said his image would suffer by dating a white woman and voiced pain at an interview in which the singer said, “I’m off to rehabilitate all the rappers and basketball players.”
Madonna, in winning a temporary block on the auction, told the court that her celebrity status “does not obviate my right to maintain my privacy, including with regard to highly personal items.”
Lutz’s lawyers accused Madonna of a “personal vendetta” and mocked her appeals for privacy, noting that the auction included a pair of underwear she had mailed to a lover.