Once one of hip-hop's biggest and richest stars, 50 Cent has filed for bankruptcy. The news comes on the heels of a court decision three days ago, when a judge ordered that 50 was liable for $5 million in restitution as a result of leaking a sex tape starring Rick Ross' baby mama. This latest legal blow also follows up another big disappointment in the courtroom for 50, who was fined $17.2 million last year for ripping off designs for his SMS Audio headphones.
The news may come as a shock to many, as 50 Cent has embodied the rap mogul persona for years. He's a notorious businessman who has had his hands in everything from clothing to energy drinks to boxing promotion, not to mention the infamous VitaminWater purchase by Coca-Cola that landed him over $100 million. Once a staple of the Forbes biggest cash-earners in hip-hop - just earlier this year they estimated his net worth at $155 million - it would seem 50 doesn't have much of that cash to spare these days. The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing says Curtis has $10 to $50 million in assets and $10 to $50 million in liabilities. Worth noting, the news of this bankruptcy comes not even a week after 50 was profiled in the New York Times for his aptitude as a businessman. As tough as it is to shy away from making a joke about 50 Cent being down to his last 50 cents, I would never stoop to such lowly puns.
If he wasn't embattled in his own legal struggles, this would surely be a great day for Rick Ross. If 50's declining sales and popularity weren't reason enough to determine a "winner" in the two's longstanding beef, these latest developments certainly further cement the case. It was his baby mama, Lastonia Leviston, that was paraded around by 50 in an attempt to undermine the Boss, and years later it seem that Rozay is finally getting the last laugh. That incident might have been embarrasing, but not quite as much as filing for bankruptcy as a result of it.
Whether this signals the final decline or the start of a resurgence for 50 the mogul remains to be seen. People and businesses have emerged from bankruptcy before richer than ever, but it's certainly an uphill climb. The bigger question revolves around 50 the artist, and remains whether or not he will ever get back in the headlines for music purposes. We can only hope this bankruptcy sparks a creative fire inside him, though it saddens me to say that just seems to unlikely at this point.
UPDATE: A CPA further explains what 50's bankruptcy filing means:
This filing buys him the time he wants/needs to pay his debts. He's not "bankrupt" in the typical usage of the term.
He's filing chapter 11 bankruptcy; this is not bankruptcy as most citizens know it. The bankruptcy that most people know is Chapter 7 bankruptcy (or chapter 13 under certain conditions) and is a total reset where you are left with no assets and no debts.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy is typically known as a "restructuring" bankruptcy. Given the lawsuits they quote in the article, I would assume he does not have immediate access to the liquid assets necessary to pay his immediate debts. This filing is to protect his investments while his financial team develops the most appropriate plan to pay his lawsuit debts. Paying $20mm is not an emergency for someone worth $500mm; paying $20mm in the next 30 days for most people of significant wealth is an emergency--most of their wealth is in investments. Think Zuckerberg here... Net worth of ~40 billion. 24 billion of that is in Facebook stock. It's not easy to free up mass units of stock for their fair market value because selling off large units of stock tanks the stock value.
[By Brendan Varan. He's bumping Get Rich or Die Tryin' like it's 2003. Follow him on Twitter.]