R. Kelly victims to receive over $500k after his label ordered to cough up royalties

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R. Kelly victims to receive over $500k after his label ordered to cough up royalties

R. Kelly has lost more than $500,000 in royalties now that Universal has been ordered to turn them over to the courts for disbursement to his victims.

Court documents obtained by HipHopDX reveal that the United States Court in the Northern District of Illinois issued what’s known as a third-party citation to discover assets on Universal Music Group back in May.

The record label had until June 21 to answer the interrogatories, at which time it would be required to disclose how much the disgraced R&B singer had in outstanding songwriter royalties that needed to be paid.

As it turned out, the singer had $567,444.19 in unpaid royalties, which Universal — the music publishing arm of which Kelly was signed — was ordered to turn over to the courts on Friday (June 30). A label source told Radar Online that these royalties will be used to pay R. Kelly’s victims, who have so far only received about $27,000 from the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer.

Earlier this month, prosecutors in Brooklyn, NY, filed a writ of continuing garnishment, which is what’s filed by creditors (in this case, the government, acting on behalf of R. Kelly’s victims) against debtors (R. Kelly’s record labels) to collect money owed in a judgment.

“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 courts filed the writ of continuing garnishment against R. Kelly’s label because it is “in possession of property” belonging to the disgraced singer that can be used to pay down the debt, if not eliminate it altogether.

In March, Illinois Supreme Court ruled Heather Williams was entitled to access the disgraced singer’s label fund — which was reportedly valued at $1.5million in 2020, according to Billboard — before Midwest Commercial Funding, a property manager that won its own separate $3.5million ruling against Kelly over unpaid rent on a Chicago studio.

Williams won a $4million judgement against Kelly in 2020 after filing a civil lawsuit against him a year prior. She alleged that when she was 16, the “Ignition” hitmaker lured her to his studio on a promise she could be in a music video and then had sex with her multiple times as a minor.

The state high court’s decision on Thursday upheld an earlier ruling by a lower court that Williams — and not Midwest Commercial — should be given priority to access the royalties because she was the first to properly file a demand for the money.

The earlier ruling ordered the label to hand over “any funds currently in Kelly’s royalty account” to Williams and to keep paying her from his royalties until the judgment was paid off.

R. Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, originally sought to overturn the $4million judgement 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.”

But when Billboard contacted Bonjean for a comment about this latest entry into the docket, she said she had “no opinion” on the latest move by the prosecutors seeking to garnish his royalties.