MADONNA has been forced to apologise after posting defaced images of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Bob Marley on her Instagram account.
The singer has faced accusations of racism after re-posting fan art of famous people's faces tied up in rope made to look like the cover of her forthcoming album Rebel Heart.
Fans on Instagram have called the singer "inappropriate" and "disrespectful", with one user writing: "I can't believe you would stoop this low…You're commandeering other people's likenesses and other photographers COPYWRITTEN images for your own pathetic agenda."
Another commented under the image of Nelson Mandela: "He fought for freedom not to promote your album! Shame on you! You're old enough to know better!"
In a statement released on Friday, the singer said on Facebook: "I'm sorry / I'm not comparing my self to anyone / I'm admiring and acknowledging there Rebel Hearts / This is niether a crime or an insult or racist! [sic]"
She said that the artworks had been made by fans, not herself, and that she had included a large number of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Frida Kahlo and Michael Jackson.
"Am I saying I am them / No / I'm saying they are Rebel Hearts too. / And / I didn't do it / My fans did / And I just re posted these photos."
She added: "I hope one day to live up to 1/100th of what those people accomplished".
The singer continued to post more images after making the apology, with photographs of Princess Diana and US musician and artist Jean-Michel Basquiat appearing on her Instagram page this weekend.
But other fans of the singer were less offended by the publicity stunt, claiming Madonna had done far more controversial things in the past.
"All these cray-crays castigating Madonna for her Rebel Heart tributes sure have no idea exactly what Madonna actually does.
"She's done more controversial stuff in the past; she practically threw panties at the Pope in the early 90s. Compared to that, her tributes to legends and icons are sedate," Axel Carlisle wrote on Instagram.