Inside the Tupac Shakur Tattoo Contest at His L.A. Museum Exhibit

The Tupac Shakur museum exhibit is getting major traction. It’s the first of its kind in celebration of the rapper’s life and career. A tattoo contest recently kicked off within the museum, highlighting fans who have the best Tupac art. All of this is happening amid a major lawsuit between Tupac’s estate and the estate manager.

Tupac performs on stage
Tupac Shakur performs at the Regal Theater 1994 | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

What the museum exhibit features

In January, Tupac’s estate announced a new museum exhibit, Tupac Shakur: Wake Me When I’m Free, was on the way. The museum officially opened in L.A. on Jan. 21 where it would be for until May 1 with plans to travel to other major cities. Described as an immersive museum that highlights the rapper’s life and legacy, the museum is a venture between Tupac’s estate and Arron Saxe. Saxe is president of Kinfolk Management + Media and has worked with the estates of other icons, including Otis Redding and Donny Hathaway. 

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“There are thousands of pieces of paper, handwritten pieces of paper – which is everything from his lyrics to all of the songs and poetry that you know down to a grocery list for a birthday party,” Saxe told the Miami Herald. “The whole point of this exhibit was to not only show the kaleidoscopic nature of Tupac, but also show how he is relatable. There are incredible pieces of clothing. This exhibit is also a mix of contemporary art and technology, too. Many of the artifacts have never been seen before.”

Tupac’s exhibition features his music, poetry, wardrobe, social activism and more. Certain artifacts included are his handwritten lyrics from his classic hits like “California Love” and “Dear Mama.” There are also several galleries that pay homage to his upbringing and late mother, Afeni. 

A Tupac contest coincides with the new museum exhibit of the hip hop icon

One event within the museum that took place on Thursday, Mar. 10 was a tattoo contest. A media alert revealed that Franco Vescovi provided a Tupac portrait tattoo live at the museum. The winner would receive Tupac x Bishop Full Machine Set to the person with the best tattoo of Tupac. In order for interested parties to be eligible, contestants were required to purchase a ticket for the exhibit. 

Tattoo artist were instructed to have their clients post an image of their Tupac Tattoo using the #tupactattoo on social media. They then had to stop by the Bishop table to register for a chance to win the grand prize. In addition to grand prize winners, 2nd – 5th Place winners were awarded the Tupac x Bishop T Shirt.

Tupac’s estate is embattled in a lawsuit against the estate’s manager

Before the museum’s opening, Tupac’s sister Sekyiwa filed a lawsuit against Tupac’s estate manager, Tom Whalley. Whalley inherited the estate after inheriting Afeni’s estate following her death in 2016. Sekiwya is accusing Whalley of embezzling more than $5 million for his own good. Whalley is a longtime associate of Tupac and signed him to his first deal with Interscope Records in 1991.

Sekyiwa’s lawyer L. Londell McMillan believes certain belongings she inherited from Tupac are scattered across the exhibit, and claims she did not give Whalley permission to use them. “It looks like [the museum] was done very well, highly curated with a lot of Set’s personal property,” McMillan told the LA Times

He added: “It’s a sweet and sour situation. It’s great that people get to learn and see Tupac more, but the timing, presentation, and curation of it should have included Set, with her personal belongings being included in the installation.”

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