Jay-Z’s got 99 problems, and a multimillion-dollar breach of contract lawsuit filed by a perfume company is one of them.
The music mogul, born Shawn Carter, on Friday repeatedly clashed in Manhattan Supreme Court with a plaintiff’s attorney representing the company Parlux Fragrances, which has sued the performer for allegedly failing to meet his contractual obligations as part of a product launch.
According to the complaint filed in 2016, Carter, 51, cost Parlux $18million by refusing to make promotional appearances to help sell his Gold Jay Z cologne and related products.
The Empire State of Mind artist then counter-sued Parlux, accusing the company of failing to pay him $2.7million in royalties.
Familiar face: Shawn Carter, aka, Jay-Z, is seen entering the courtroom at 60 Centre Street in Manhattan on Friday. Carter’s testimony began this morning in a breach of contract trial
Carter, 51, was sued in 2016 by Parlux Fragrances, which accused him of failing to meet his contractual obligations as part of the launch of his Gold Jay Z cologne
The Empire State of Mind artist has counter-sued Parlux, accusing the company of failing to pay him $2.7million in royalties
Carter repeatedly clashed with the plaintiff’s attorney, ultimately prompting the judge to intervene
He also accused the company of not handing over accounting reports or business plans for the originally planned follow-up fragrances.
On Friday, the award-winning Brooklyn rapper strode into the courtroom dressed in a black blazer, a white shirt and a black face mask, and took the witness stand, setting the stage for a series of hostile exchanges with the plaintiff’s lawyer, which ultimately prompted the presiding judge to intervene, reported Rolling Stone.
Carter signed a contract with Parlux in 2012, agreeing to lend his name to a fragrance line
Attorney Anthony Viola, representing Parlux, grilled Beyonce’s famous husband on his familiarity with his contract and his obligations to his business partners, which included appearing on Good Morning America to promote his cologne.
‘I’m not a lawyer,’ Carter said, admitting that he did not personally read the contract, but added that his legal team likely explained its contents to him.
Carter proclaimed his innocence, declaring from the stand: ‘you have me on trial from something I didn’t do.’
Viola pressed Carter on whether he had made any promotional appearances, as specified in the contract.
‘I did a lot for the Gold Jay-Z launch,’ Carter replied, before going on the offensive and asking whether or not it was true that he was given a year to complete his obligations to Parlux.
When Viola ignored his question and tried to move on with the cross-examination, Carter called him out on it, saying: ‘I don’t know if you answered my question. I had a year to complete these right?’
The lawyer shot back: ‘actually, you need to answer my questions.’
Viola sought to demonstrate that the rapper was not familiar with at least some of his contractual requirements, which he had admitted during a deposition, while Carter did his best to dodge the lawyer’s line of questioning by saying over and over, ‘I’m not lawyer.’
‘It’s fair to say when you signed this contract you didn’t know anything about the celebrity fragrance market?’ Viola asked.
The company expected to make $100million off sales of the $72-a-bottle Gold Jay Z colognes within five years, but instead lost money, according to the lawsuit
Carter snapped back: ‘I mean, I’m a celebrity.’
The two continued sparring about Carter’s familiarity, or lack thereof, with the specifics of his fragrance line, including the price of each unit and how many of them were sold.
The verbal clash reached a fever pitch when Viola suggested that it made no sense to launch Gold Jay Z at Braclays Center, because it was not a store, to which the rapper retorted: ‘you can’t speak to what makes sense.’
Following that tense exchange, the judge had to step in to diffuse the situation, telling Viola and Carter: ‘I think you guys are speaking past each other.’
The civil trial got under way earlier this month and is expected to continue next week.
Gold Jay Z cologne was launched in 2013, retailing for $72 at Macy’s, a year after Parlux signed a licensing deal with Carter.
Parlux said in its complaint that the Brooklyn rapper was supposed to post on social media and make promotional appearances, but he declined when the company tried to book him on Good Morning America and at Women’s Wear Daily.
The company said Jay Z not only agreed to help launch the fragrance, but he was also supposed to develop a line of follow-up colognes.
The company expected to make $100million off sales of the colognes within five years, but instead lost money. Sales for the cologne dropped from $15million in the first year to $6million in the second year.
Carter is pictured on October 15 with wife Beyonce on board water taxi in Venice
Parlux filed a lawsuit demanding at least $18million in damages from the rapper.
But Jay Z has filed a countersuit, accusing Parlux of not paying him royalties from fragrance sales in violation of the contract, and causing damage to his reputation.
Carter claimed that the deal required Parlux to pay him a minimum of $750,000 for the first year and up to $1.75million in the fifth year of sales.
Further, he said the company failed to spend the minimum amount agreed upon – $5million – for advertising of the cologne.
Due to the company breaching the agreement by not paying him, Carter said he exercised his right to void the contract.