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Ol' Dirty Bastard Widow Is Suing the Wu-Tang Clan Over Unpaid Royalties
Icelene Jones, the widow of Ol' Dirty Bastard, has filed a lawsuit against Wu-Tang Clan for $1 million in unpaid royalties.
Icelene Jones, the widow of the late-Ol' Dirty Bastard and administrator of his estate, is coming after Wu-Tang Clan. Variety reports that Jones has filed a lawsuit towards Wu-Tang Productions, Inc., seeking $1 million in unpaid royalties. In November 2004, ODB — whose legal name was Russell Tyrone Jones — died of an accidental overdose at 35.
Jones alleges that Wu-Tang Clan Productions did not pay royalties from 2011 to July 2021, when Wu-Tang Productions sent a check for $130,000. Payments were also received in 2019 and 2020 from Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp, which Jones says "“represent only a small percentage of amounts payable to the estate under the recording agreement,” according to court documents.
The motion was filed in the New York Supreme Court, where the lawsuit cites a 1992 recording contract which mentions that select members of Wu-Tang were to receive 50 percent of royalties from the group's catalog. According to TMZ, the suit mentions that ODB should receive 50 percent of net royalties from the exploitation of his image or likeness. Alleging breach of contract, the lawsuit also seeks $1 million in damages plus interest, along with attorney fees and costs.
However, “despite its repeated efforts and requests, the estate has been unable to obtain payments and accountings from the defendant under the recording agreement for the sale of Wu-Tang Clan Recordings and ODB recordings since at least 2011,” the suit claims.
On Tuesday morning, ODB's estate sent an official statement about the lawsuit to clarify false narratives that have circulated.
"Wu-Tang Productions, Inc., owned by Wu-Tang member Robert Diggs (RZA) has willfully refused to compensate or provide accounting records to the Estate of Ol’ Dirty Bastard, despite being contractually obligated," the statement read. "
The Estate will randomly receive partial checks such as the one sent for $130,000 in July of 2021 from Wu-Tang Productions but without financial records, we have no indication of the exact amount the Estate is still owed. It is crucial to understand that ODB's widow and Administrator of the Estate Icelene Jones has been requesting these financial records for years and has a legal obligation to do so. This is not an attack on Wu-Tang Productions, Inc., but a last legal resort we have had to pursue after being denied and ignored on this matter for over ten years."
“We have been very supportive in providing economically to the family through the estate and to his wife and children on record and off record,” RZA said. “ODB’s potential share of those records are minimal, are dismal, but nevertheless after those products are recouped his prorated portion belongs to him.”