NEW YORK – Death Row Records, the hip-hop label that released seminal gangster rap albums by Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, has been auctioned for $24 million.
The New York-based Global Music Group Inc. said in a statement to The Associated Press on Monday that on June 24 it purchased Death Row, including its enviable back catalog and current artist contracts.
The purchase concluded the roller-coaster saga of one of hip-hop's most famous labels. Under owner Marion "Suge" Knight, Death Row sold tens of millions of albums in the heyday of early `90s rap — its artists often flashing the spoils of the high life in music videos — before collapsing in debt and mismanagement.
A former couple, Lydia and Michael Harris, claimed they helped found the label, and won a judgment of $107 million, which they tried to collect in 2006. Unable to pay, Death Row and Knight filed for bankruptcy in April 2006, claiming debts of more than $100 million.
In 2006, a federal judge ordered a bankruptcy trustee takeover of Death Row Records, saying the label had undergone gross mismanagement. Knight's decision to file for bankruptcy protection staved off a move by the court to appoint someone to take control of the record label and his assets.
Global Music Group, an independent label, takes ownership of albums including Dr. Dre's "The Chronic," Shakur's "All Eyez on Me" and Snoop Dogg's "Doggystyle."
Other assets are believed to include unreleased material from Shakur that could result in another posthumous release from the rapper.
Knight has a history of legal problems. He was convicted of assault in 1992 and placed on probation, then jailed for five years in 1996 for violating that probation.
He was returned to jail in 2003 for again violating parole, this time by punching a parking attendant at a Hollywood nightclub. He was released the next year.
In 2006 under questioning from his creditors, Knight denied having money tucked away in foreign countries. His bank account then contained just $11.
Global Music CEO Anthony Davi, Jr., said the label planned to get "the best economic results of the catalog and provide long term stewardship of the artists' work." The company plans to later announce details of its plans for Death Row.