50 Cent says a photo he posted on Instagram last year – posing for with stacks of cash, was just stage props. Now he has had to explain himself in front of a bankruptcy judge, and claim the money was fake.
The rapper, real name Curtis Jackson, was last summer ordered to pay $5m to a woman who said he had posted online, without consent, a sex tape of her and her boyfriend to which he had added a lewd commentary. He responded to the verdict by filiing for chapter 11 bankruptcy. In a hearing to assess punitive damages against him, he claimed many of his trappings of wealth were borrowed.
However, it soon appeared he also began to claim he had further riches, posting a photo on Instagram four months ago in which piles of banknotes spelled out the word “broke”. He then posted a video to the site that showed a palatial building, claiming “my crib is almost finished in Africa”.
However, those claims attracted the attention of both creditors – including a headphone company that claims it is owed $18m – and the bankruptcy court, and 50 Cent was ordered to appear before Judge Ann Nevins on Wednesday to explain himself. Appraisers had already totalled his assets at $64m, against his claim of $16m.
50 Cent’s lawyers explained: “The cash depicted in the social media postings is not real. The postings, which amongst other things, make use of stage or prop money, are part of the Debtor’s routine social media marketing activities and relate directly to the Debtor’s various business interests. Prop money is routinely used in the entertainment industry, including in movies, television shows, videos and social media postings.”
In court papers seen by the Daily Mail, the rapper asked not to be restricted in what he posted to social media, saying any such move “would, in all likelihood, be commented upon negatively in the entertainment media and result in damage to my brand and earning capacity”.
He also said there was no house in Africa: “I do not own, nor have I ever owned, any real property in Africa. If I did own any property in Africa or any other real properties, I would have disclosed them as required by the Bankruptcy Code.”