Despite being sued by Jay-Z and despite a court order placing limits on what he’s allowed to sell, Damon Dash did what he said he was going to do during an interview with Variety: He’s officially started an auction for his third of Roc-A-Fella Inc. — and its sole asset, Jay-Z’s “Reasonable Doubt” album — with a starting bid of $10 million.
What Jay-Z will attempt to do to stop this auction, as he and his lawyers did in June when Dash first attempted to sell his share, remains to be seen.
As he’d promised to in June, Dash is including an NFT in the auction, titled “It’s the Roc,” “representing certificate of ownership” of the one-third share. Two different closing dates are listed for the auction: July 23 at 5 p.m. PT, according to his site’s main page, or on July 26 at midnight, if you look at the auction page itself.
In the oft-confusing legal disputes leading up to this latest development, a judge previously declared that Dash had the right to sell his one-third share in Roc-A-Fella Inc., but no right to sell a part of the “Reasonable Doubt” album. However, the language on the auction site refers to the company and the album interchangeably, reflecting Dash’s belief that Rock-A-Fella Inc. (a long-dormant company not to be confused with Jay-Z’s later Rock-A-Fella LLC) has but one asset.
“Damon Dash is auctioning his 1/3 interest in Roc-A-Fella Inc, which owns ‘Reasonable Doubt,’ Jay-Z’s first album,” reads the copy on the auction site. “Own a moment in time when ‘Reasonable Doubt’ changed hip-hop culture. The album that influenced and touched so many lives.”
In a promotional video that preceded the auction’s start, Dash said that “’Reasonable Doubt’ set the trajectory for the future of Roc-A-Fella, represented everything we were doing at the moment. It was the voice of us. It’s still one of my favorite albums of all time.” Dash never mentions Jay-Z by name in the video.
Going on to tout other galleries that he has opened, as well as the spirit of independence inspired by Roc-A-Fella’s start, Dash also talks up the fiduciary charms of an artist’s involvement in the NFT format (“An artist still gets bread when it resells; you don’t have to talk to a third party to collect”), and that this NFT auction is the first of many he’ll be involved with.
In June, the opinion of Manhattan judge John Cronan was that “Dash can’t sell what he doesn’t own. By attempting such a sale, Dash has converted a corporate asset and has breached his fiduciary duties.” Yet the Roc-A-Fella Inc. CEO contends his NFT of “Reasonable Doubt,” which he says is the sole asset of Roc-A-Fella Inc., would be auctioned to the highest bidder, sooner rather than later, due to loopholes in the original 1995 Roc-A-Fella contract that failed to identify the necessary bylaws and restrictions.
Along with this action, on July 13, Dash’s lawyers filed a summons in New York Supreme Court claiming that Jay-Z transferred all streaming rights to “Reasonable Doubt” to S. Carter Enterprises LLC without authorization or agreement among Roc-A-Fella Inc. partners. Dash claimed breach of fiduciary duty, among other charges in the suit, and wants at least $1 million in damages.
In his recent Q&A with Variety, Dash said, “I don’t know why you are so mad at me wanting to sell my third that you lie on me in court. I didn’t get caught selling my third before this because I didn’t try to sell my third before this. I’m not trying to sell everybody else’s third. Just mine. … I’m gonna sell it without anybody bothering me.”
Whether Jay-Z’s attorneys got all of their bothering out of their system on their first trip through the courts will become evident soon enough.