50 Cent says company overbilled for mansion repair

June 2, 2009 4:47:19 PM PDT
Rapper 50 Cent said Tuesday that he never would have bought a Connecticut mansion once owned by boxer Mike Tyson had he realized it would require millions in repairs and renovations. The entertainer, whose real name is Curtis James Jackson III, testified in Hartford Superior Court as part of his lawsuit against BVH Integrated Services, a Bloomfield, Conn.-based engineering firm.

50 Cent testified that his attorneys hired the firm to inspect the 52-room, 48,000-square-foot-plus mansion in Farmington, Conn., in 2003 before he bought it from Tyson's ex-wife. The company was to make a visual inspection to determine how much it would cost to repair the roof, decks, driveway and other aspects of the property.

"I thought it was necessary because I didn't know what damages or what it would take to keep the house uptight and up to speed," the rapper testified. He said the mansion was the first house he bought.

The company's estimate was for about $500,000, but 50 Cent spent about $6 million on repairs and renovations. Lawyers said about $3 million of that was spent on maintenance repairs that should have been included in the firm's estimate, and the rest was spent on additional "betterments and improvements."

BVH attorney Michael Byrne said his client shouldn't be liable for the difference because 50 Cent wanted "extravagant and costly upgrades."

A contractor hired by BVH to conduct the 2003 inspection, John Thomas Wilcox Jr., also testified during the first day of the hearing. Wilcox said he was asked to inspect the home, including the windows, doors, attic, roof and exterior paint, but he didn't make any exact measurements or research building records.

"It was not intended to be an inaccurate estimate. It was intended to be a loose order-of-magnitude estimate," Wilcox said.

"This house was not a high-quality, mansion-quality house. It was not built that way. It was relatively inexpensive construction.

There was no way to do a comprehensive review in the time we had," he said.

50 Cent sued in 2006 and the case is being heard by judge Eliot D. Prescott.

50 Cent put the mansion up for sale in 2007 for $18.5 million and allowed the MTV show "Cribs" to film an episode to show off the details of the 19-bedroom, 37-bathroom property. The home includes a recording studio and a nightclub that features a swing dangling from the ceiling. Realtors at the time said he also added a helicopter pad, an infinity pool and spa with a grotto, new decks, windows and roofing, an entirely new main kitchen, a movie theater, updated the master bedroom and updated all electrical systems on the 17-acre property.

There were no buyers and 50 Cent said Tuesday the house is no longer for sale.

Dressed in a sharp pinstriped black suit, the rapper declined to comment when the court recessed Tuesday but signed autographs for fans who spotted him in and outside the courthouse.

Testimony is scheduled to resume Wednesday morning and the trial could last into next week, lawyers said.

50 Cent also has another ongoing case moving through the Hartford civil court. He is suing his ex-girlfriend, Shaniqua Tompkins, for defamation and is asking for $20 million.

In 2008, the rapper's $1.4 million mansion Long Island mansion burned in a swift-moving fire that forced six people, including Tompkins and their 10-year-old son, Marquise, to escape by jumping off a rear roof. A cause has not been determined, but officials call its origins suspicious.

The lawsuit says the entertainer was in Louisiana during the early morning blaze but Tompkins told the media that 50 Cent "tried to kill me and his own child. I know this came from 50 Cent. I know he did it."

Months before the fire, a judge ruled that Tompkins had to vacate the house. She was still living there at the time of the fire because the case was being appealed.