Life, Death & Money: Selena


At the age of 23, American-Mexican singer, Selena Quintanilla, was on the brink of reaching her dream to crossover into the English market from the Latin world. With major record sales, lucrative endorsement deals, and a burgeoning retail fashion empire, it appeared as though the rising star would conquer the music world. However, Selena’s life would instead be cut short when a jealous friend and employee named Yolanda Saldívar shoots and kills the young singer inside a motel room on March 31, 1995. Selena’s family and legion of fans were all completely shattered. But grief could not prevent talks about Selena’s money and legacy from surfacing. At the time of her death, Selena’s estate was estimated to be worth as much as $25 million. A healthy and vibrant, young woman, she left behind no final will or estate plan detailing how she would like her assets and fortune to be divided. However, her father and manager, Abraham Quintanilla, soon revealed to the rest of his family that his daughter had signed over her image rights to him directly. This meant that he alone would have the ability to control Selena’s name, voice, and image, which would dictate the future earnings for him, Selena’s sibling bandmembers and her widow, Chris Perez. This is where the future estate war unknowingly begins for Perez against his father-in-law. In 2012, Chris independently releases the best-selling autobiography, “To Selena With Love”. The book is so successful, it is optioned to become a TV series — and that’s when Chris is slapped with a $1 million lawsuit by Abraham. According to Abraham, Perez has no right to adapt his book into a TV show about his late wife. What follows is a legal battle that cracks open long-buried family tensions and raises the questions – who has the right to tell Selena’s story and who stands to profit?