Federal Judge Halts NFT Auction of Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt

Photo Credit: Jay-Z

Last week, Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records filed a lawsuit against co-founder Damon Dash, claiming that the 50-year-old intended to sell a stake in 1996’s Reasonable Doubt as a non-fungible token (NFT) – while allegedly lacking the rights to do so. Now, a federal judge has officially ordered Dash to shelve any auction plans for the album pending a hearing next month.

Roc-A-Fella Records alleged in the firmly worded complaint against Damon Dash – who, along with Jay-Z and Kareem Burke, founded the company in 1995 – that the defendant had planned to auction off an interest in Reasonable Doubt today, June 23rd. However, the plaintiffs maintained in the suit that Dash cannot do so, purportedly owning one-third of the overarching Roc-A-Fella as opposed to Reasonable Doubt itself, which belongs to the company.

The NFT auction platform canceled the planned two-day listing after receiving a firmly worded legal notice (included as an exhibit in the lawsuit) from Roc-A-Fella, and the plaintiffs expressed the belief that Dash was “frantically scouting for another venue to make the sale.” Consequently, Roc-A-Fella sought an order enjoining the co-founder from cashing out of his Reasonable Doubt stake.

It bears mentioning, however, that Dash publicly took aim at the suit, claiming that Jay-Z (who isn’t a stranger to NFTs) had made him an “unacceptable” offer for his third of Roc-A-Fella earlier this year – reportedly totaling $1.5 million – besides specifying that the NFT auction would be for his piece of the company, not solely Reasonable Doubt.

Now, a federal judge has “restrained and enjoined” Dash “from altering in any way, selling, assigning, pledging, encumbering, contracting with regard to, or in any way disposing of any property interest in Reasonable Doubt,” including in the form of an NFT auction or another sales method.

Judge John P. Cronan has also ordered Dash and his legal team to show cause at a teleconference hearing on the morning of next Thursday, July 1st. The aforementioned order pertaining to the sale of Reasonable Doubt will remain in effect pending a decision on Roc-A-Fella’s motion to show cause.

Though Damon Dash pushed back against the suit (as well as Jay-Z himself), as noted, the “Heartbreaker” artist Jay-Z didn’t appear to have publicly addressed the case (or this latest development) at the time of publishing. The 51-year-old rapper – who remains embroiled in multiple copyright infringement lawsuits – sold a majority stake in his Tidal streaming service to Jack Dorsey’s Square in March, not long after selling half of his Armand de Brignac champagne (commonly known as “Ace of Spades”) to Moët Hennessy.