The real mystery for me in this silly scenario is why the rapper would think he could publicly promise a $1 million reward and not have to make good on it. Any rational theories will be received with pleasure.
Ryan Leslie, who has penned a hit song or two and performs as a hip-hop artist himself, had his laptop and external hard-drive stolen while he was on tour in Cologne, Germany two years ago. Apparently he felt that the demos and songs on the equipment had potential, because he offered $20,000 for the laptop and hard-drive’s return. When that didn’t work, he upped the reward to $1 million. A man named Armin Augstein found the computer while walking his dog in a park not far from where the computer had been taken, and he turned it over to German police. When the man claimed his reward, Leslie refused to hand it over, claiming that Augstein must have been involved in the theft, though police found no evidence supporting that allegation.
Leslie forced Augstein to sue him, and after two years of litigation, a Manhattan jury has ruled that the German man indeed has a right to receive the promised finder’s fee, all one million smackeroos of it. Leslie nearly got away with his bait-and-switch, it seems: at one point the jury suggested to the judge that $1 million was “too much” and asked if it could come in with a lesser amount. The judge said no. This is where half-baked jury ethics often leads to poor verdicts. How can $1 million be “too much” when the value of the items’ return was set by their owner? It was, after all, their value to him, not to a random jury member, that counts. One million dollars was obviously their genuine and fair value to him—at least that much. How can a $1 million payment for a task that was completed after the beneficiary said he would pay that sum for it be “too much”? The jury was mixing up the conclusion that Leslie offered “too much” (although there is no way the jurors could know that) with the idea that Augstein was going to receive “too much,” which if he receives what was offered, is impossible. I may think my baseball team pays its left-fielder too much, but that doesn’t mean that the player is asking for too much when he insists that he get the money the team agreed to pay him.
My guess is that the rapper thought he could get whoever found his laptop to agree to a lesser reward as an alternative to an expensive lawsuit. I don’t think he expected the reward to be claimed by a German who looks like a James Bond villain. In any event, Leslie has obviously been trained in the dawg-eat-dawg world of pop music recording, where double-dealing, deceit and under-handed negotiations seem to be the norm.
Facts and Graphic : New York Post