Rapper Curtis Jackson III, also known as 50 Cent, is correcting himself about the bitcoin fortune he implied he forgot he had, and which would have been worth over $7 million. He's now saying he never had it at all.
In January, Jackson shared to his social media accounts a TMZ report claiming the rapper had raked in around 700 bitcoins during a 2014 album sale. CNBC Make It reported that a stake of that size would be worth about $7.8 million. Now, however, Jackson is swearing there is no fortune.
On Friday, under penalty of perjury, the rapper filed documents relating to his 2015 Chapter 11 bankruptcy case to clarify that he doesn't own, "and have not owned, either a bitcoin account or any bitcoins."
The filing — which specifically calls out the report from TMZ that claimed Jackson had pulled in nearly 700 bitcoins for the sale of his 2014 album "Animal Ambition" — states that any bitcoins received for the album were "contemporaneously" converted into dollars. At the time, bitcoin was worth about $660, meaning the stake of 700 bitcoins would have totaled about $460,000.
It further clarifies that the third-party in charge of processing purchases, Central Nervous, used BitPay, a company that specializes in processing payments with bitcoin for purchases large and small, including Lamborghinis, to convert bitcoin into dollars before any profits reached Jackson's company G-Unit Records. Had G-Unit Records opted to hold onto the bitcoin payments instead of having them converted into dollars, they would be worth over $7 million at bitcoin's price today.
A request for comment by CNBC Make It was not immediately returned by Jackson's publicist.
The 42-year-old raised eyebrows when he shared a screenshot of the TMZ article on Instagram with the caption, "Not Bad for a kid from South Side, I'm so proud of me." Without clarifying he never actually owned the bitcoin, or that it had been converted to dollars and deposited into his company's account, he added an additional comment on his post, writing, "I'm a keep it real. I forgot I did that s---."
Jackson explains in the filing that he didn't feel the need to immediately clarify the initial reports on his estimated fortune because his comments were, at least partly, true. "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 that I was one of the first recording artists to accept bitcoin for online transactions," he wrote.
"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."
He adds that he generally would never deny reporting that is "favorable to my image or brand."
This is not the first time the rapper made famous by his debut album "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" has gotten in trouble after using social media for that purpose. A different Instagram post, in which Jackson posed next to stacks of cash, landed the rapper in hot water during bankruptcy proceedings after the judge handling his case raised concerns of financial non-disclosure.
Jackson later claimed in a filing that the cash featured in his post was "prop money."
Jackson's original bankruptcy case was discharged in 2017 after the rapper paid a total of $22 million to creditors to settle his debts. His move to get ahead of any questions his creditors could raise about a non-disclosed bitcoin fortune is not unexpected, according to Leon Bayer, a bankruptcy attorney at Bayer Wishman & Leotta.
"So long as he correctly reported his income from the album sale," Bayer tells CNBC Make It, "it doesn't matter if he got paid in pesos, euros, drachma or bitcoin."
What does matter is that the decision to convert bitcoin to dollars at the time of payment appears to mean Jackson never was a bitcoin millionaire, no matter how much he may have later enjoyed looking like one.
—CNBC's Dan Mangan contributed to this report.
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