Is 50 Cent really bankrupt? The Story Behind 50 Cent’s Bankruptcy Filing after Losing $5 Million Lawsuit
As reported in the Wall Street Journal: 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.
Now, we all remember 50 Cent reportedly being one of the richest rappers of all time. Mainly due to his investment in Vitamin Water that the Washington Post reports left him with a figure somewhere between $60 million and $100 million after Coca-Cola Company purchased Glaceau for $4.1 billion. Forbes estimated that 50 Cent was worth $160 million. Just last week the New York Times referred to 50 as “a man of exceptional business instincts.”
So with all this money at his disposal, why is 50 Cent filing for bankruptcy? Celebrity Networth reports: 50’s current financial woes can be traced back to a sex tape and his longtime hip-hop rival Rick Ross. More specially, Rick Ross’ baby momma Lavonia Leviston. Back in 2009, a 13-minute video appeared online that featured a wig-wearing 50 Cent playing a character called Pimpin Curly. Pimpin Curly introduced and made explicit comments about a sex tape that featured Ms. Leviston. Rick Ross was not in the video but he does have a daughter with Leviston. At the time the video was released, 50 and Ross were in the midst of a very heated and very public rap battle.
In the very NSFW video, Pimpin Curly referred to Ms. Leviston as a “porn star” among other degrading insults. It’s important to note that Ms. Leviston is neither a porn star nor a celebrity, and the sex tape was made for her private enjoyment. In courtroom testimony, Leviston said she was “horrified and humiliated” when the video appeared on the internet. She further stated that “this was something that was done to me. I didn’t have a choice. I would never, ever do this to myself.”
So that’s a big problem. Even though the internet appears to be a cesspool of stolen naked photos and embarrassing personal information, it is still very much illegal to upload someone’s private sex tape online without their permission. It’s also not great to tell the whole world that this person is a porn star (when they are clearly NOT a porn star). So Lavonia Leviston sued. And, not surprisingly, she won.
On Friday, a jury in Florida awarded Ms. Leviston a $5 million judgment. The judgment was made up of $2.5 million for using her image without permission and another $2.5 million for emotional distress. But that’s not all. The jury still has the ability to levy 50 Cent with punitive damages. And punitive damages can be pretty much unlimited. So with Friday’s judgment, the judge in the case also gave 50 Cent a week to produce a detailed accounting of his assets and net worth so the jury could decide how much more he will owe in punitive damages.
To make matters worse, last December 50 Cent was ordered to pay $17.5 million to a rival headphone company called Sleek Audio. Sleek Audio won the damages after proving that 50, a former partner in the company, stole extremely valuable trade secrets and technology which were then used to launch his own brand of headphones SMS Audio. So off these two cases alone, before punitive damages are even awarded in the Leviston case, 50 is already on the hook for $22.5 million in court judgments.
Read more of the story on Celebrity Networth