The Whitney Houston Estate is reportedly reeling from Kanye West’s choice to use a photo of the late music icon’s drug-laden bathroom for the cover of Pusha T’s DAYTONA album.
In a statement obtained by Entertainment Tonight, the estate says it’s “extremely disappointed in Kanye’s choice. Even in Whitney’s death, we see that no one is exempt from the harsh realities of the world.”
“The person who violated the trust of my aunt by taking the photo and selling it to tabloids for their own personal and/or financial gain is more of a travesty to me,” Gary Michael told Good Morning America. “People should research that — because whoever exposed it are the people who violated her trust, mistreated her, and who should ultimately be held accountable for contributing to circumstances surrounding her demise.”
West spent $85,000 to obtain the controversial photo, which was reportedly taken by a family member in 2006 when the legendary singer was in the depths of her drug addiction.
Whitney Houston died on February 11, 2012 in Beverly Hills.
(The original version of this article was published on May 26, 2018 and can be found below.)
The image, which is a 2006 photo of Houston’s drug-laden bathroom, has reportedly infuriated Houston’s cousin Damon Elliott. He told People Magazine he wasn’t aware of the album art until he got a call from his daughter.
“[She was] frantic,” Elliott said. “She sent me this picture from the album cover and I immediately got sick to my stomach because it took me right back to six years ago.”
The late pop icon passed away in 2012. According to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office, Houston’s death was caused by drowning and the “effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use.”
The image was a brutal reminder of the pain they felt finding out Houston was gone.
“I was actually in shock because I’m in the music business,” he said. “I’ve watched the train wreck happening, but I didn’t think he’d [West] go this far in invading someone’s family privacy. To do something for a publicity stunt to sell records, it’s absolutely disgusting. It hurt my family and my daughter. It’s petty. It’s tacky.”
“I just want him to tell me why he did it,” he added. “What is the creative side of this? What’s the point? It shows no creativity.”
Elliott said he reached out to his mother, legendary singer Dionne Warwick, to warn her before she stumble on it herself. He said he has yet to hear from Houston’s mother Cissy Houston.
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Elliott is demanding an apology from West and wants the cover art to be replaced by something else. If he gets a call from ‘Ye, he’s prepared with questions.
“What were you thinking?” he said. “Did you think this through? And if you did, why did you do this? Because you’re hurting people. It knocked the wind out of me last night. When someone passes, you try to mourn and move on and remember the good times.
“Why are you going to pay $85,000 to bring something to the forefront?”
In an interview with Angie Martinez, Pusha explained that West called him in the middle of the night and said he wanted to change the cover art. But the G.O.O.D. Music president didn’t want to pay the $85,000 it would cost to buy the photo. West then agreed to foot the bill.
Since DAYTONA’s Friday (May 25) release, the album has already stirred up plenty of controversy and sparked a seething diss track from Drake.