R. Kelly has suffered a loss of more than $500,000 in royalties as a result of a court order that directed Universal to give the money to his victims.
According to court documents obtained by HipHopX, the United States Court in the Northern District of Illinois issued a third-party citation to discover assets on Universal Music Group back in May.
Universal Music Group had until June 21 to respond to the interrogatories. During this period, they were required to reveal the amount R. Kelly, the troubled R&B singer, was owed in unpaid royalties for his songs.
It was revealed that the singer, R. Kelly, had a total of $567,444.19 in unpaid royalties. Universal, the music publishing company that R. Kelly was signed to, was ordered to hand over this money to the courts on Friday (June 30). A source from the label informed Radar Online that these royalties would be used to compensate R. Kelly’s victims, who have so far only received about $27,000 from the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer.
In Brooklyn, NY, prosecutors recently filed a legal document called a “writ of continuing garnishment.” This type of filing is typically done by creditors (in this case, the government representing R. Kelly’s victims) against debtors (R. Kelly’s record labels). The purpose of this filing is to collect the money owed as a result of a judgment against R. Kelly.
“The outstanding balance on the aforesaid judgment is $504,289.73, including interest, as of June 1, 2023. Interest is continuing to accrue,” read the documents filed against Kelly’s label Sony Music Entertainment.
The court filed the writ of continuing garnishment against R. Kelly’s label because they believe the label possesses assets or property that belongs to the singer. These assets could potentially be used to reduce or even completely eliminate the debt owed by R. Kelly.
In March, the Illinois Supreme Court made a ruling granting Heather Williams (R. Kelly victim) access to the label fund of R. Kelly. The fund, reportedly valued at $1.5 million in 2020 according to Billboard, was to be utilized for settling legal obligations. This decision was made prior to another ruling in which Midwest Commercial Funding, a property manager, was awarded a separate $3.5 million judgment against Kelly for unpaid rent on a Chicago studio.
In 2020, Heather Williams won a $4 million judgment against R. Kelly after filing a civil lawsuit against him a year earlier. She accused the “Ignition” hitmaker of luring her to his studio when she was just 16, promising her a chance to be in a music video. However, she alleged that he had sexual relations with her multiple times while she was still a minor.
On Thursday, the state high court upheld a previous ruling by a lower court regarding the priority access to royalties. The court determined that Heather Williams, who filed her demand for the money first, should get the royalties over Midwest Commercial.
In the previous ruling, the court ordered the label to transfer any funds present in R. Kelly’s royalty account to Heather Williams. Additionally, the label was instructed to continue making payments to Williams from R. Kelly’s royalties until the judgment was paid off.
R. Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, initially attempted to overturn the $4 million judgment against her client, claiming that the award to Williams “never should have been entered” because it was issued after Kelly failed to respond to a judgement he knew nothing about.
“I’ve never in my career seen such a flouting of the rules to deny him even the opportunity to defend these civil cases, even when the courts were fully aware that Kelly was incarcerated, unrepresented at points, and facing multiple criminal indictments,” Bonjean said. “Indeed, much of these civil proceedings occurred without Kelly’s knowledge.”
When Billboard reached out to Jennifer Bonjean for a comment about the prosecutors’ latest move to garnish R. Kelly’s royalties, she stated that she had “no opinion” on the matter.