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This year marks the 40th anniversary of the tragic death of Marvin Gaye, but as his legacy lives on, so may an opportunity to hear previously unreleased music from the singer.

According to the BBC, Gaye left a collection of stage costumes, notebooks, and audio tapes with Charles Dumolin, a Belgian musician who hosted Gaye at his home in Ostend in the early 1980s.

Belgian lawyer Alex Trappeniers, a business partner of the family, told the BBC “We can open a time capsule here and share the music of Marvin with the world. It’s very clear. He’s very present.”

Trappeniers cataloged the audio recordings, explaining, “Each time a new instrumental started when Marvin started singing, I gave it a number. At the end when I had listened to all the 30 tapes I had 66 demos of new songs.”

Marvin Gaye singing at a piano

Previously unreleased music from Marvin Gaye has been discovered at a friend’s home in Belgium.  (Jim Britt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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He added, “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.”

One song in particular stuck with Trappeniers. 

“There was one song that when I listened to it for ten seconds I found the music was in my head all day, the words were in my head all day, like a moment of planetary alignment,” he said.

The question of ownership not only of the physical items but the intellectual rights is already heating up.

Marvin Gaye singing on stage

According to a BBC interview with Alex Trappeniers, a lawyer associated with Charles Dumolin’s family, some of the recordings are “as good as ‘Sexual Healing.’” (Gary Gershoff/Getty Images)

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According to Trappeniers, “They belong to [the family] because they were left in Belgium 42 years ago. Marvin gave it to them and said, ‘Do whatever you want with it’ and he never came back. That’s important.”

Dumolin passed in 2019, and under Belgian law, according to the BBC, there is a stipulation that any property, including stolen property, absolutely belongs to a person after 30 years, meaning per the country’s laws, Dumolin’s family owns them. 

However, that doesn’t apply to intellectual property, meaning he and the Dumolin family couldn’t legally release the music.

Fox News Digital reached out to Gaye’s estate, but they did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the material.

Marvin Gaye smiling and holding a Grammy

According to the BBC, Belgian law allows for any property, including stolen property, to absolutely belong to a person after 30 years, meaning the Dumolin family could sell the recordings under the country’s law. (Armando Gallo/Gettry Images)

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Trappeniers believes a compromise could be reached between Gaye’s family and he and his associates to release the music for the world to enjoy.

“I think we both benefit, the family of Marvin and the collection in the hands of [Dumolin’s heirs]. 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 said.

He also addressed the complicated moral and legal situation both parties are embroiled in, noting that the Dumolin family could simply sell the collection if they chose.

“Morally, I’d like to work with the family but this is the nightmare for them… that someone comes from a country where there’s a lot of money and we make an agreement and this collection leaves this country,” he explained.

Marvin Gaye

Trappeniers hopes there can be a compromise between Gaye and Dumolin’s families over the handling of the materials. (NBCU Photo Bank)

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Gaye was dubbed the “Prince of Motown” and the “Prince of Soul,”  for his behind the scenes work on the label’s distinctive sound before breaking away from the company and forging his own career.

He was known for hist like “Sexual Healing,” “What’s Going On?,” and “Let’s Get It On,” as well as his overall influence on the R&B genre.

On April 1, 1984, the day before his 45th birthday, Gaye’s father, Marvin Gaye Sr., shot and killed his son during an argument. Gaye Sr. pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and received probation.

Gaye’s music has been the center of two major legal disputes in the past several years.

In recent years, Gaye’s music has been the subject of major legal disputes with stars like Ed Sheeran and Pharrell Williams. ( Gilles Petard/Redferns)

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In 2018, Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke were ordered to pay $5 million to Gaye’s family after a federal judge ruled their 2013 hit “Blurred Lines” was similar to Gaye’s single, “Got to Give It Up.” Per the ruling, Gaye’s family will also receive 50 percent of “Blurred Lines” royalties in the future. 

Last year, Ed Sheeran won a court battle after a jury found the singer didn’t copy Gaye’s single “Let’s Get It On” in his 2014 hit “Thinking Out Loud.”



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