Bankruptcy Lawyer Bryan W. Stone answers the question: “What are my alternatives to bankruptcy ?”
The rapper 50 Cent has been in the news since he filed for bankruptcy last year, claiming that two separate court-ordered judgments and other high expenses pushed him into bankruptcy. However, his bankruptcy case took an interesting turn this [week] after the bankruptcy judge ordered him to appear and explain numerous photos he has been posting on Instagram of himself surrounded by $100 bills and stacks of money.
Last year, the New York City rapper, whose full name is Curtis James Jackson III, was ordered by a jury to pay $7 million to a woman who said he acquired her sex tape she made with her boyfriend and posted it online with his own crude commentary. The move was allegedly to embarrass 50-Cent’s nemesis Rick Ross, with whom the plaintiff has a child.
This judgment came after a 2014 ruling that ordered 50 Cent to pay more than $11.6 million in damages to Sleek Audio, a company he had worked with to develop a line of headphones for a few years. The artist and Sleek had parted ways before 50 Cent established a separate business that also made headphones. The company said the products were functionally the same design as theirs, and the court agreed. Mr. Jackson was also ordered to pay more than $4.4 million in attorney’s fees in that case, bringing the total judgment to a cool $18 million.
So that’s $25 million in damages and legal costs…which happens to be the amount that 50-Cent claims in overall assets.
However, the artist also claims an additional $5 million in liabilities, including:
- $108,000 in monthly expenses, which includes
- $72,000/month to maintain his 21-bedroom home in Connecticut
- $12,000/month in child support for two children
- $5,745/month for Bentley lease
- $2,500/month supporting his grandparent
- $3,000/month on clothes
- $1000/month on grooming
- $1 million in other unpaid legal fees
Now, the judge handling his bankruptcy case has ordered 50 Cent to appear in court to explain photos he has been posting on Instagram lately picturing him with wads of cash. The judge said the pictures made her concerned about allegations that the artist was hiding some of his assets.
Hiding assets during a bankruptcy is very serious. For an artist who brings in millions in music alone each year, it does lead one to wonder if this is a simple case of mismanagement of money or something more intentional.
Ever since initially filing for bankruptcy, Mr. Jackson has been in the news for making light of the situation online by posting pictures and videos to Instagram where he is drenched in stacks of money. In one picture, 50-Cent was posing on the floor with piles of money spelling out the word “BROKE.” In others piles of money is simply stacked up around him, fortress-like.
The bankruptcy judge summoned him to court earlier in February to account for these posts but the hearing on the matter does not yet have a date set. His attorneys claimed in a filing that the rapper was simply trying to maintain his branding and image. However, it probably won’t help 50-Cent’s case that mere days after the judge ordered him to explain the cash photos, he posted yet another one on Instagram.
We’ll have to see if the judge buys this explanation. This case highlights several important points to remember when filing for bankruptcy, namely:
- Steer clear of anything that could appear improper in your calculation of debts and assets. Hiding assets during bankruptcy has serious consequences. If you do not fully disclose your assets, you are not entitled to a discharge, or cancellation of your debts. In addition, you aren’t eligible to discharge those debts in subsequent bankruptcies, and you may be subject to criminal penalties.
- Social media can absolutely be used against you in bankruptcy (and many other types of) cases. Be mindful of the spoken as well as unspoken things your posts might convey about standard of living and assets.
Whether you are thinking about filing, or are being accused of hiding assets during a bankruptcy, having an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can help you with the two issues above and guide you through the complicated process is key.
If you are contemplating bankruptcy in the Charlotte area, please call the skilled lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC find additional resources here. As professionals who are experienced at handling all kinds of bankruptcy matters, our attorneys will provide you with legally sound advice for your particular situation.
About the Author
Kyle Frost joined Arnold & Smith, PLLC in 2013 where he focuses his practice on all aspects of civil litigation and bankruptcy, including: Chapter 7, Chapter 11, Chapter 13, home loan modifications and landlord-tenant issues.
Born and raised in upstate New York, Mr. Frost attended the University at Albany on a Presidential Scholarship, graduating magna cum laude with a double major in Political Science and Sociology. He went on to attended Wake Forest University School of Law in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Following college, Mr. Frost spent over a year teaching English in South Korea. He worked in a private school in Seoul developing curriculum, English programs, and educating both children and adults that were interested in learning a new language.
In his spare time, Mr. Frost enjoys homebrewing, fishing, and travelling.
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