Judge halts sale of Madonna's love letters and other personal items, which she claims were stolen
When a jailhouse letter from Tupac Shakur to Madonna claiming he ended their relationship because she was white surfaced this month on a rock and roll auction website, its origin was a mystery to the public.
It was also a mystery to Madonna, who thought the deeply personal letter was tucked among her belongings at home.
On Tuesday, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Gerald Lebovits temporarily halted the auction of the letter and 21 other items by Gotta Have It! Collectibles, a New York auction house for pop culture memorabilia, after Madonna filed for an emergency court order, the Associated Press reported.
In her statement in support of the order, Madonna said she was "shocked to learn" of the auction.
She accused Darlene Lutz - a woman described by the Associated Press as "a former friend, art consultant and 'frequent overnight guest' in Madonna's home when she was 'not in residence'" - of taking the items from her home.
Madonna claimed Lutz, who consigned the items to auction, "betrayed my trust in an outrageous effort to obtain my possessions without my knowledge or consent," Reuters reported.
A spokesperson for Lutz and the auction house staunchly disputed the star's allegations, claiming, "Madonna and her legal army have taken what we believe to be a completely baseless and meritless action to temporarily halt the sale of Ms. Lutz's legal property," in a statement to TMZ and New York Daily News.
"We believe that her 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," it continued.
The most notable items that were up for sale were a pair of letters between Madonna and two former love interests.
The first, which was expected to sell for up to $400,000, was what appeared to be a post-breakup letter written in January 1995 from Tupac to Madonna, in which he apologized for ending their romantic relationship and explained his reasons for doing so.
"For you to be seen with a black man wouldn't in any way jeopardize your career, if anything it would make you seem that much more open and exciting," Tupac wrote. "But for me at least in my previous perception I felt due to my 'image' that I would be letting down half of the people who made me what I thought I was.
"Like you said, I haven't been the kind of friend I know I am capable of being," he wrote, adding, "I never meant to hurt you."
The rapper's letter coincided with his time at New York's Clinton Correctional Facility for sexual assault. He was killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas the following year.
The second letter was penned by Madonna in the 1990s and addressed simply to "J." Rolling Stone reported "J" was likely actor John Enos, whom Madonna also dated.
The letter, which was expected to sell for $5,000, slammed fellow singer Whitney Houston and actress Sharon Stone for being "less interesting and exciting people" but more commercially successful than Madonna.
"Maybe this is what black people felt like when Elvis Presley got huge," Madonna wrote. "It's so unequivocally frustrating to read that Whitney Houston has the music career I wish I had and Sharon Stone has the film career I'll never have. Not because I want to be these women because I'd rather die but they're so horribly mediocre and they're always being held up as paragons of virtue and some sort of measuring stick to humiliate me.
"Everything I do is so original and unique, and I put so much of myself into it, like my book and record, and it's only brought me heartache and pain," the letter continued. "I don't think I can play the game to be accepted. I'm too intelligent. I have too much pride."
Most of the other items - including a pair of "personally worn" panties, unreleased recordings, photographs taken at a bachelorette party at her Miami home, and a brush with strands of her hair still wrapped around its teeth - were deeply personal.
The Material Girl seemed concerned about the potential spread of her genetic material.
"The fact that I have attained celebrity status as a result of success in my career does not obviate my right to maintain my privacy, including with regard to highly personal items," Madonna said in court papers. "I understand that my DNA could be extracted from a piece of my hair. It is outrageous and grossly offensive that my DNA could be auctioned for sale to the general public."
Travis M. Andrews is a reporter for The Washington Post's Morning Mix. Previously he was an editor for Southern Living and a pop culture and tech contributor for Mashable.