Million Dollar Mess: Ryan Leslie’s Laptop Saga

Ever heard the saying: “don’t let your mouth write a check your body can’t cash?”

Well singer/producer Ryan Leslie is living a variation of that.

Back in 2010, the 34-year-old entertainer’s laptop and an external hard drive were stolen from a black Mercedes in Cologne, Germany.

Leslie recorded a YouTube video asking for the safe return of his electronics so that he could retrieve his music files and offered a $1 million reward.

A German man named Armin Augstein found the electronics in a park as he was walking his dog and returned them for the reward.

Leslie apparently had a change of heart and did not want to pay the promised reward. He even insinuated that Augstein may have been involved in the theft. There was no evidence for the accusation.

Augstein, a 54-year-old body shop owner, took him to court and won!

The jury initially said they felt $1 million was too high, but Augstein’s lawyers refused to consider a settlement or lower reward. Ultimately, the jurors conceded and agreed with the plaintiff.

During the trial, Leslie stated that he offered the reward because he was seeking to retrieve several unreleased songs from the hard drive. Though Augstein returned the electronics, the music was not accessible, according to the talent.

New York federal judge Howard Baer ruled that Leslie and his team handled the hard drive negligently upon its return and that the jury should assume the data was on the drive when it was brought back.

“No one forced him to make an offer of so much money for a finder’s fee. It seems like he believes that that which he promised, he doesn’t have to live up to,” Augstein said in an interview with the New York Post.  The newspaper ran a cover story on the drama last week with a caption that read: “Rap weasel must pay $1m for lost laptop.”

The Washington, DC-bred entertainer addressed the matter during a Homecoming concert on the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University this weekend.

Leslie explained the ordeal to the concertgoers and said he wasn’t sure if Augstein sued him “because he misunderstood what the million dollars was for,” but “a jury of my peers, eight people, they looked me in my face and told me I had to pay this man $1 million for music I never got back.”

The sometimes-rapper got emotional while recapping the details and confessed having to see his face on the front of the New York Post and being called a “rap weasel” and a “cheapskate” was tough.

Leslie performed his song “5 Minute Freshen Up” and while singing the lyrics, “don’t believe everything you read in the f—n news,” he set the New York Post issue on fire and then stomped it.  He emphasized: “these haters’ll really prefer to see you lose.”

In a questionable move however, he also reiterated “despite what the jury said, that million dollar reward is still out there for anybody who can return all my compositions to me. That’s why I never took the video off of YouTube.”

I guess he didn’t learn the first time, huh? Leslie may not want to repeat this mistake again!

Photos: Check out Ryan Leslie’s Twitter message about the verdict.

VIDEO: Watch Ryan Leslie talk about the laptop ordeal and perform “5 Minute Freshen Up.”

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