Michael Jackson‘s estate have claimed over two dozen unreleased Jackson tapes due to be auctioned were “unquestionably stolen”.
Last November, pop culture collectibles website Gotta Have Rock and Roll were reportedly planning on auctioning a number of masters tapes, which were claimed to have been recorded by the musician in 1994 at The Hit Factory. According to Billboard, these tapes were labelled “incredibly rare unreleased recordings”, which were estimated to sell for up to $4000 (£3100).
The tapes included songs entitled ‘Oh Love’, ‘Sexy Love’, ‘Doing What My Heart’ and ‘New jelly. Each tape also said it was “an artifact ONLY with no copyright”, and that reproduction was “STRICTLY prohibited”.
However, lawyers for the Michael Jackson estate reportedly threatened to sue the website, claiming the tapes were “unquestionably stolen.” In a letter dated on November 29, Jackson estate attorney Jonathan Steinsapir ordered Gotta Have Rock and Roll to “cease and desist from any and all efforts to further auction these tapes” and immediately return them.”
According to the letter, Steinsapir wrote: “Neither Michael Jackson nor his record company, Sony Music Entertainment, ever sold or gave away master tapes from his recording sessions at The Hit Factory (or anywhere else). These tapes were unquestionably stolen or otherwise taken without authorization. Accordingly, they are the property of the Jackson Estate.”
On December 12, the estate sent another email, this time from lawyer Alex Spiro (who has previously represented clients such as Jay-Z, Megan Thee Stallion and Elon Musk). Spiro wrote that Gotta Have Rock and Roll had apparently told Steinsapir that “it will not comply with these demands”.
In response, Spiro’s email allegedly said: “We write to notify you that we intend to seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction tomorrow (December 13) in New York Supreme Court. Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions.”
The company wrote back less than two hours later to ask for his phone number, and by the next day, the tapes were taken down from Gotta Have Rock and Roll’s website.
Both representatives of the Michael Jackson estate and Gotta Have Rock and Roll have been approached for comment.