Unreleased Marvin Gaye music uncovered in Belgium, could lead to legal battle

(KTLA) – April 1, 2024, marks 40 years since the death of singer and songwriter Marvin Gaye.

Just days before that tragic anniversary, new music from the Prince of Soul has been uncovered overseas, according to a report by the BBC.

The outlet reports that Gaye moved to Ostend, Belgium, around 1982 after meeting a Belgian concert promoter while living in London. Gaye's move was believed to have been meant to get his life back on track as he was "becoming a heavy user of cocaine."

While in Ostend, he lived with Belgian musician Charles Dumolin and returned to the studio.

Gaye left stage costumes, notebooks and cassettes of never-before-released music to Dumolin, according to Belgian lawyer Alex Trappeniers, a business partner of the family.

Dumolin died in 2019, and now the items are in the possession of his family members.

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Trappeniers revealed to the BBC that the treasure trove of music consists of 30 tapes, which consisted of "66 demos of new songs."

"A few of them are complete and a few of them are as good as 'Sexual Healing,' because it was made in the same time," he explained.

When it comes to a potential legal battle over the items, Trappeniers said the "What's Going On" crooner gave them to Dumolin and allegedly told him to "do whatever you want with it and he never came back."

While the items were intended for Dumolin and not his family members, Trappeniers explained there is a key sticking point in a possible legal issue: Belgian property law states that if someone holds property, no matter how it's acquired, it is theirs after 30 years. And it doesn't matter if it's stolen.

However, this does not apply to intellectual property.

This could mean that while the Dumolin family owns the tapes, they won't be able to publish the songs themselves. That would likely require an agreement with the Gaye family.

In this case, Trappeniers thinks the two should just come together on a plan to release the music.

"I think we both benefit, the family of Marvin and the collection in the hands of (Dumolin's heirs)," he said. "If we put our hands together and find the right people in the world, the Mark Ronsons or the Bruno Mars … I'm not here to make suggestions but to say OK, let's listen to this and let's make the next album."

He also explained that the family could sell the entire collection to someone else who, in turn, could "exploit the music" and pass it off as their own.

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This isn't the first time Gaye's heirs have gone to court for the singer's music.

Years ago, Gaye's family sued Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over their 2013 song "Blurred Lines." They claimed it copied Gaye's song "Got to Give It Up."

A federal jury sided with the family and awarded them over $7.4 million.

On April 1, 1984, Gaye was shot and killed by his father while intervening in a domestic dispute between his parents in Los Angeles. He died a day shy of his 45th birthday.

Gaye left behind three children: Marvin III, Nona and Frankie.

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