Amid the sculpted busts and collectibles at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, there’s a painting on the wall that hip-hop fans will recognize from their CD or record collections.
The painting shows the late Tupac Shakur on a cross. It was used as the album cover for Tupac’s (aka Makaveli) latest album, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory.
“I’m the original artist who painted it in 1996,” said Ronald “Riskie Forever” Brent. “All Tupac wanted to convey was basically his pain and everything he was going through.”
Painting is a map of this pain. Brent used a Thomas Guide map in the cross and highlighted important towns. One of them, Dallas.
“And now look where I am,” Brent said. He now lives in North Texas. “I never thought I would ever see my work auctioned off to this extent right now.”
Brent was an in-house cover artist for Death Row Records when he painted Tupac’s album cover.
“You know, I presented this painting to him and he was shot the next day,” Brent said. “I only have a small piece of his heritage, so every time people think of Tupac, they think of that.”
Tupac Shakur would have turned 51 on Thursday.
“I just wish that never happened to him and that he had the opportunity to still be here today,” Brent said. “It’s a different thing to have in your portfolio, or your story to life, you know what I mean?”
Brent’s painting, signed ‘By Riskie / Death Row / Art Dept. /1996,’ will go up for live auction on Saturday. Thursday night, the pre-bid was up to $90,000.
“I feel like it’s one of my greatest works,” Brent said. “But I don’t feel like I’ve created my best yet.”