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Salsa Queen’s Estate Sues Telemundo TV Network

(CN) - Six months after the death of Cuban-born "Queen of Salsa" Celia Cruz, Spanish-language TV network Telemundo sold recordings of a tribute concert given in her honor shortly before she died, and in which she participated, her estate claims in Federal Court in New Jersey.

The Estate of Celia Cruz Knight and The Knight Descendants' Trust claims Telemundo set up a nationally televised tribute concert in January 2003, 5 months before the singer died from a brain tumor at 77.

The concert featured performances by "Latin music's leading recording artists, film and television personalities," the estate says. Cruz agreed to perform in the concert in exchange for a donation to her charitable foundation, according to the complaint.

The agreement between Telemundo and Cruz called Cruz's performances "works for hire," according to the complaint, and specified that Cruz would be paid for "any" later productions of the concert.

One year after the concert, and 6 month's after Cruz's death, Image Entertainment produced a DVD of the concert called "Celia Cruz - Azucar," the estate claims. (Azucar is Spanish for sugar.)

Telemundo and Image allegedly made $1 million from the DVD, but refuse to pay the estate anything for Cruz's performance.

Born in Havana, Cruz moved to the United States with her husband, Pedro Knight, shortly before Fidel Castro threw out Fulgencio Batista on New Year's Day 1959.

Cruz became a U.S. citizen and lived in a heavily Cuban-populated town in New Jersey for the rest of her life, making multiple tours through Latin America, Europe and Africa. By the time of her death, Cruz had amassed 23 gold albums and multiple awards, including the National Medal of Arts, given to her by President Bill Clinton in 1994.

The estate sued Telemundo Network Group, Telemundo Holdings and Image Entertainment for treble damages. It is represented by Eric Medina of Manhattan.

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