Rapper 50 Cent Files for Bankruptcy

Katy Stech, Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2015

The rapper 50 Cent filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday, halting a dispute over a sex tape.

The 40-year-old rapper, Curtis James Jackson III, filed for chapter 11 protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Hartford, Conn., on Monday, the same day he was supposed to appear in a New York state court to determine whether he owes punitive damages in a 2010 lawsuit filed by Lastonia Leviston, rapper Rick Ross’s ex-girlfriend, court records show.

Jurors said last week that Mr. Jackson should pay $5 million to Ms. Leviston, who said that Mr. Jackson violated her privacy by posting a sex tape of her online. Mr. Jackson’s lawyers dispute the amount of the verdict.

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Mr. Jackson estimates that his assets and debts, which were not itemized, are worth between $10 million and $50 million, court papers said.

The bankruptcy petition lists his address as a Farmington, Conn., mansion, which boxer Mike Tyson once owned. The 21-bedroom home is reported to have a racquetball court, a home movie theater and an eight-car garage.

50 Cent put his boxing promotion company, SMS Promotions LLC, into bankruptcy protection on May 26.  The maneuver was related to the 2010 sex tape lawsuit.

The lawsuit accused him of posting a 13-minute sex tape on his website in 2009 as part of a “rap war” between himself and Mr. Ross, according to court papers.

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Mr. Jackson also invested in the maker of Glaceau Vitaminwater, which was sold to Coca-Cola for $4.1 billion in 2007. Industry insiders speculate that Mr. Jackson got between $40 million and $100 million from that deal, Mr. Charnas said.

Last week, the New York Times profiled Mr. Jackson, proclaiming that he “has exceptional business instincts.” But Mr. Charnas said the rapper’s popularity has since faded.

“I think what we see over and over again are rap artists joining the great American tradition of being exploited, climbing out of that exploitation and being an entrepreneur and creating equity, the great American tradition of amassing wealth and the great American tradition of squandering it,” Mr. Charnas said.

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