Promises can be hard to keep, especially when there’s more than a million dollars at stake.
When rapper and R&B singer Ryan Leslie’s backpack was stolen in Cologne, Germany in 2010, he lost his laptop, an external hard drive, jewelry, and cash. So he did what any rational person would do: he offered a cushy $20,000 reward for the return of the bag and its contents, which he announced in a YouTube video. When no one came forward, he upped the reward to $1 million. An auto-repair mechanic turned the computer in a month later, saying he found it tucked in a garbage bag in a German forest, and expected to collect his cool million. But Leslie refused to pay the reward on the grounds that the valuable computer files had been corrupted. Now a court has weighed in saying that the Grammy-nominated musician must live up to his promise and pay the reward, plus interest.
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In court yesterday, according to the New York Post, Leslie testified that his offered reward was “contingent upon his ability to retrieve several unreleased multitrack songs stored on the hard drive, which he said couldn’t be accessed after he got it back.” His lawyer, David Stefano explained Leslie’s position to ABC News, “He made a second reward video and offered $1 million for just the intellectual property on the external hard drive and computer, the session files.” DeStefano added that the session files were the main item the performer hoped to recover with his reward, “MP3s are nothing for a producer or a studio engineer, they can’t do anything with them. They need the session files. These were his compositions.”
In November, a jury unanimously agreed that despite the fact that Leslie was unable to access the session files on the laptop, he still owed the substantial reward money to Armin Augstein, the German auto-shop owner who found the bag while walking his dog. On Friday, the court once again sided with Augstein and ordered Leslie to pay an additional $180,000 in interest that accrued between when the laptop was found, in 2010, and when the decision came down from federal court in 2012.
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