Whitney Houston Estate Responds to Kanye West's Usage of Controversial Bathroom Photo (Exclusive)
By Desiree Murphy
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Kanye West is in hot water with the estate of Whitney Houston.
In an exclusive statement to ET's Kevin Frazier, the estate of the late singer says they are "extremely disappointed in Kanye's choice" to use a photo of Houston's drug-filled bathroom as the cover of Pusha T's new album, DAYTONA, which dropped last Friday.
"Even in Whitney’s death, we see that no one is exempt from the harsh realities of the world," the statement continues.
As ET previously reported, West -- who produced Pusha T's latest project -- paid $85,000 to obtain the rights to the controversial picture. The photo was reportedly taken by a family member in 2006 when Houston was supposedly in the depths of her drug addiction, just a few years before she tragically died on Feb. 11, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. The "I Will Always Love You" singer's death was attributed to an accidental drowning in a bathtub combined with drug use.
In a radio interview with The Angie Martinez Show, Pusha T revealed the decision to use the photo was a last-minute idea by West.
“He wasn't feeling it," the 41-year-old rapper said of West's thoughts on the original artwork. "[Originally], the artwork, it was pictures that we all agreed on. He picked the photographer, I took these pictures, I was like, 'Yo, these are fresh.' I picked all of these pictures out, he had a little edit to it, how he wanted the actual grading of the picture to look. Picked the picture, great, we look, boom, boom, boom, it's good."
"One a.m., my phone rings. No caller ID. [Kanye says], 'Hey, yeah, I think we should change the artwork.' And, 'I like this other artwork. And this other artwork is 85 grand,'" he recalls of his conversation with West. "I said, 'Hey, I don't want to pay for that, and I wasn’t even going to ask you to pay for that.' We picked what we picked, it’s here, it’s ready. 'No, this is what people need to see to go along with this music. Imma pay for that.' I say, 'You my man! You my man!' I love it, I actually do love it. [But] I absolutely did not want to pay for it."
Shortly after its release, Houston's cousin, Damon Elliott, spoke to People, telling the outlet it "hurt" his family. He claims the family was not consulted about the use of the photo, and he only learned about it by receiving a text from his daughter.
"To do something for a publicity stunt to sell records, it's absolutely disgusting," he said. "It's petty. It's tacky."