50 Cent's bank account frozen

Emma Woollacott
·2-min read
50 Cent Promotes SMS Audio - Amsterdam
50 Cent Promotes SMS Audio - Amsterdam

Rapper 50 Cent isn't quite down to his last half-dollar. But, according to reports, he's unable to access a penny of his wealth, after having had his personal bank account frozen.

This summer, 50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis Jackson III, was ordered to pay Sleek Audio over $16 million after the headphone company claimed that he'd stolen its designs. A few years earlier, the two had collaborated on a potential product line, but the licence agreement was ended in 2011.

"Instead, I have established a new company that is developing a complete line of audio accessories, including wireless headphones, offering superior sound quality along with cutting-edge technology for all music lovers to enjoy," 50 Cent said at the time.

The result was Sync by 50 and Street by 50 - two headphone designs produced with a different manufacturer, SMS Audio, instead. But, according to Sleek, the designs were essentially copies of its own. The judge agreed, ordering 50 Cent to pay Sleek nearly $4.5 million in attorney fees and $12 million in damages.

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The Tech Behind 50 Cent's New SMS Audio Fitness Tracking Earbuds
The Tech Behind 50 Cent's New SMS Audio Fitness Tracking Earbuds

But according to TMZ, the rapper has failed to pay up, and has now had his personal bank account frozen. He's appealing against the judgement, claiming that the court ruled against him because he's black and a hip hop artist. He says the judge refused to allow him to present relevant evidence and prevented him from cross-examining witnesses.

One of 50 Cent's lawyers tells the site that Sleek is now "desperately attempting" to recover the money, but added: "Don't worry about 50 because his assets are appropriately protected."

50 Cent could certainly pay up if he wanted to: earlier this year, Forbes magazine estimated his worth at $140 million, making the judgement relatively small change. But it's surprisingly easy for mega-earners to lose it all.

For example, 50 Cent's fellow rapper MC Hammer was also driven into debt by, in part, lawsuits claiming he'd stolen other people's work. He was sued for copyright infringement by singer Rick James over the song U Can't Touch This, and by composer Kevin Christian for Oh-Oh, You Got the Shing.

Celebrity money worries are often triggered by a tax bill, which, according to the Sun, led N-Dubz member Fazer to declare bankruptcy last year. For Kerry Katona, indeed, tax bills have led to two bankruptcies, with rumours of several more near-misses.

More dramatically, Mike Tyson went bankrupt in 2003 over a series of debts - including one for the care of his tigers.

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