Rapper Ordered to Pay $1.2 Million Reward for Lost Laptop

Rapper Ryan Leslie must pay nearly $1.2 million to man who found lost laptop.

ByABC News
January 1, 2013, 4:28 PM

Jan. 2, 2013 — -- A Grammy-nominated rapper whose music files disappeared when his laptop was stolen was ordered to pay nearly $1.2 million to a German man who claims to have found the computer in a forest.

Rapper and R&B singer Ryan Leslie, who was nominated for a Grammy award in 2011, offered a reward of $20,000 for his missing backpack after it was taken from a car chauffeuring him between performances in Cologne, Germany, in 2010.

When no one turned in the backpack, which contained the laptop, an external hard drive, jewelry, and cash, Leslie increased the reward to $1 million for any of the files, or intellectual property, stored on the computer and hard drive, according to his attorney.

"He made a second reward video and offered $1 million for just the intellectual property on the external hard drive and computer, the session files," David DeStefano, Leslie's attorney, told ABC News. "They're different from just an MP3, MP3s are nothing for a producer or a studio engineer, they can't do anything with them. They need the session files. These were his compositions."

After a month of false leads, a German man named Armin Augstein contacted police saying he had found the laptop, DeStefano said. Augstein said he found the backpack in a garbage bag in a forest, and decided to bring it home. He then found Leslie's passport, searched his name on the Internet, and found out about the reward, DeStefano said.

Augstein's attorney, Michael S. Fischman, could not be reached for comment.

Leslie refused to pay Augstein the $1 million because his music files had been corrupted, DeStefano said today. Augstein then filed a lawsuit seeking the full reward.

In November, a federal court in Manhattan ordered Leslie to pay Augstein the full $1 million, according to court documents.

On Friday, the court once again sided with Augstein and ordered Leslie to pay an additional $180,000 to Augstein for interest that accrued between when the laptop was found, in 2010, and when the decision came down from federal court in 2012.

DeStefano said that he did not contend the motion for $180,000 because he was appealing the entire decision, hoping to have it overturned.

Fischman, the attorney for Augstein, was quoted as telling the New York Post that "had Mr. Leslie honored his promise, or responded to the repeated requests for contact, this matter could have been amicably resolved a long time ago without litigation."

DeStefano said he is hoping to file briefs for the appeal process soon.

"This music was stolen from him," DeStefano said. "That was it. That was his composition. Those were his files, and he was unable to release an album for two years. So as an artist he released two albums in 2009 and was nominated in 2009, and then he was not able to release an album for two years."