Rapper 50 Cent, ranked by Forbes as one of hip-hop's five richest artists, downplayed his wealth on Tuesday as he testified in court about his finances, business deals and the media attention surrounding his recent bankruptcy filing.
The multiplatinum-selling artist, born Curtis Jackson III, appeared in Manhattan state Supreme Court in a proceeding to decide possible additional punitive damages in an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit. A jury has already ordered him to pay $5 million in damages in a lawsuit brought by a woman who said he didn't have her permission when he released a sex tape she made with a boyfriend.
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Questioned by an attorney for the woman, Lastonia Leviston, the musician-actor denied owning many luxury items — including expensive cars and flashy jewelry — saying he rents, borrows and leases instead.
"It's a borrowed piece of jewelry from the jeweler," he told Leviston's lawyer, Philip Freidin, when asked about a photo of a 65-karat ring he posted on his Instagram account.
Leviston sued the "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" rapper after a 13-minute video appeared online showing a wig-wearing 50 Cent crudely narrating and taunting his rival Rick Ross, who was not in the video but has a daughter with Leviston. At the time the video surfaced, Ross and 50 Cent were trading barbs via video, lyrics and interviews.
Jackson has said Leviston's then-boyfriend gave him the 2008 tape and that, while he didn't actually post it online, the boyfriend said she didn't mind if he did.
"I'm sorry if you feel like I hurt you," he told Leviston, who was sitting in the gallery.
Days after the jury ordered he pay $5 million, Jackson filed for personal bankruptcy protection in Connecticut. That filing lists his assets and liabilities between $10 million and $50 million.
On Tuesday, his lawyer, James Renard, said he was worth $4.4 million.
Under questioning from Freidin, Jackson said he has been paid as much as $100,000 for appearing at a nightclub and in the movie "Spy." But he was less revealing about how much he earned from various partnerships, licensing agreements and business deals with larger corporations such as The Walt Disney Co., Intel and Reebok.
"You have to ask my accountant," he said when asked whether he earned $100 million when vitaminwater was purchased by The Coca-Cola Co. in 2007.
The 40-year-old said he'd never done anything to deny Forbes' valuation of his net-worth at $155 million.