US & Canada

Madonna blocks sale of intimate items at auction

Tupac (R) and Madonna Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Madonna confirmed two years ago that she had had a relationship with Tupac (R)

A US judge has halted an auction of personal items of Madonna, after she said her privacy was violated.

New York Justice Gerald Lebovits set a full hearing for 6 September, banning auction house Gotta Have Rock and Roll from holding a sale in the meantime.

Madonna's underwear, a chequebook, a hairbrush, photos and a break-up letter from the late rapper Tupac Shakur had been among the scheduled lots.

The pop superstar said her possessions had been stolen by a former friend.

Tupac's letter, in which the rapper suggests he broke up with Madonna because of her race, was expected to fetch as much as $400,000 (£307,000).

The letter is dated 15 January 1995 and was penned while Tupac was serving a prison sentence for sexual assault, 18 months before he was shot dead. Both artists were then at the height of their fame.

Image copyright Gotta Have Rock and Roll/PA Wire
Image caption A series of pictures purportedly showing parts of the prison letter written by Tupac to Madonna, released by Gotta Have Rock and Roll

Madonna, 58, confirmed two years ago that the pair had had a relationship, though it is unclear how long it lasted.

"For you to be seen with a black man wouldn't in any way jeopardise your career, if anything it would make you seem that much more open and exciting," Tupac, then 23, wrote from New York's Clinton Correctional Facility.

"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."

In court documents, Madonna said she had only learned from press reports that the letter from her former boyfriend - and many of the other items - were no longer in her possession.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tupac died in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas

Many of the lots were presented for sale by New York art dealer Darlene Lutz.

Madonna said Ms Lutz had access to them when she helped the singer pack up a house in Miami.

"It seems obvious that Defendant Lutz betrayed my trust in an outrageous effort to obtain my possessions without my knowledge or consent," Madonna told the court.

A spokesperson for Ms Lutz and the auction house said Madonna and "her legal army" had taken a "completely baseless" action to temporarily halt the sale, and vowed to challenge the allegations in court.

Objecting to the sale of her hairbrush, Madonna told the judge: "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."

The pop singer also sought to block the sale of a frank letter to another former lover, actor John Enos.

Writing in the early 1990s, Madonna said she envied the careers of singer Whitney Houston and actress Sharon Stone, saying they were "horribly mediocre" and had profited from her own success.

"Maybe this is what black people felt like when Elvis Presley got huge," she wrote.

Sharon Stone wrote in a Facebook post last week that she is friends with Madonna, adding: "I love and adore you; won't be pitted against you by any invasion of our personal journeys."

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