Reports last month that rapper 50 Cent had forgotten about $7 million or so in bitcoin he owned have been given the lie by the man himself, who declares in court documents that he “has never owned, and does not now own, a bitcoin account or any bitcoin,” nor did any of his companies.
The court documents were first obtained by The Blast, but I tracked them down as well. Curtis James Jackson III (50 Cent’s legal name) filed the “Declaration on bitcoins” last week, well after the reports had circulated that he had rediscovered the trove of cryptocurrency. He said at the time: “I’m a keep it real I forgot I did that shit. Lol.”
Turns out, however, he never touched bitcoin himself. As he states in the declaration:
All online transactions involving my brand were handled by an independently owned and operated third part, Central Nervous LLC.. the limited bitcoin transactions that occurred online were processed and converted to U.S. Dollars contemporaneously, based upon the then-existing exchange rate…
He provided a few screenshots of his BitPay account showing a couple hundred transactions, most of which were for $5.50 or $8.90. It doesn’t look like bitcoin purchases contributed much to the 200,000 copies of Animal Ambition that eventually sold.
It isn’t anywhere near the 700 bitcoins reports suggested he’d raked in; considering a bitcoin was worth $657 at the time, the total haul is by my rough estimation probably closer to 6 or 7 of them, a few thousand dollars’ worth.
Why, then, did he not deny the reports at the time, if he knew they were not true? Later in the same document he explains a well-understood rule of show business:
As a general matter, so long as a press story is not irreparably damaging to my image or brand, I usually do not feel the need to publicly deny the reporting. This is particularly true when I feel the press report in question is favorable to my image or brand, even if the report is based on a misunderstanding of the facts or contains outright falsehoods.
When I first became aware of the press reports on this matter, I made social media posts stating that “I forgot I did that” because I had in fact forgotten I was one of the first recording artists to accept bitcoin for online transactions. I did not publicly deny the reports that I held bitcoins because the press coverage was favorable and suggested that I had made millions of dollars as a result of my good business decision to accept bitcoin payments.
All quite true. It’s hard to say it was not a good decision (being as it was good publicity at the time as well), although in retrospect it might have been wiser to hold onto the coins instead of cashing them in. But with bankruptcy looming, the promise of later riches (which he might simply have to surrender) likely held little temptation for the rapper.