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She adds, "And that this time, he remembers his family."
Vanessa Bedillo must not have been reading the magazines. Still living in Philadelphia, she hadn't heard about her high school ex's success. So in 2004, when their 11-year-old son Steven began to wonder who his father was, she hired a private investigator to track him down. "The guy turned up two residences for him — one in Coral Gables and a mansion in Beverly Hills," she recalls. "And right then, I knew: The son of a bitch really made it."
They met at an Olive Garden in Miami. Scott acquainted himself with the sharp, witty kid who shared his light eyes, nervous tics, and taste for cheese manicotti.
After much consternation, Vanessa agreed to move to Miami so Scott could rekindle his relationship with his son. At the time, it seemed right. "We're 30 years old; we're not 18 anymore," she recalls saying. "It's time to do the right thing."
Every day held the same stoner's schedule for Derek Jackson's hit maker. He'd roll out of bed no earlier than 1:30 p.m. and throw on an expensive suit jacket and torn jeans. Within a couple of hours, he'd be on the freeway in the sort of sports car that tourists in bathing suits like to pose beside. By the time he pulled into the parking lot of the Miami Hit Factory — the plush lime-painted sonic temple on NE 149th Street where James Brown, Michael Jackson, and Iggy Pop have all recorded hits — Scott Storch already would have mentally fine-tuned the little symphonies in his head.
Unlike most hip-hop producers, Storch eschewed music samples. It was always his own bejeweled fingers tapping on the keyboard while a tight crew of session musicians banged out his compositions seven days a week, 13 hours a day. It was a signature sound — synthy, staccato, and light on its feet, with melodies inspired by Middle Eastern and Indian music — that radio listeners could not escape between 2002 and 2005.
A few of Storch's most popular productions: Beyoncé's "Naughty Girl" in 2002, Terror Squad's "Lean Back" in 2003, 50 Cent's "Candy Shop" in 2004, and Chris Brown's "Run It" in 2005. All were top five hits on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. Three of them occupied the number one spot for months at a time. "It was like everything we touched was gold," boasts manager Jackson. "It was like... a fever."
By 2006, the producer commanded $100,000 per beat plus co-writer royalties and pumped out 80 commercial tracks a year. Rolling Stone estimated his net worth, including the value of his music catalogue, to be $70 million.
But Storch's spending habits could make Robin Leach hyperventilate.
He stocked his garage with at least 13 vehicles, including a $600,000 Mercedes SLR McLaren, a $500,000 Mercedes Maybach, and a $1.7 million black Bugatti Veyron — the most expensive car on the market.
A $3 million 34-carat yellow-diamond pinkie ring crowned his personal jewelry collection, which also included a diamond watch formerly owned by Michael Jackson. He paid $20 million for a 125-foot yacht. And the pièce de résistance: his 2006 purchase of a 18,000-square-foot white-columned Palm Island mansion, dubbed Villa Ferrari, for $10.5 million.
Storch shuffled through women who were equally expensive. He gave heiress Paris Hilton a Maybach and flew her to the French Riviera via private jet — at a cost of $275,000, according to XXL Magazine — and became full-fledged paparazzi prey by reportedly dating Lindsay Lohan, Kim Kardashian, rapper Lil' Kim, and porn star Heather Hunt.
Jackson now admits he was an "enabler" to his friend's reckless spending: "There were warning signs early that a crash and burn was in the future," but, Jackson reasoned, as long as Storch kept making hits, he could sustain his purchases.
Then Storch discovered the ego fertilizer known as cocaine. Soon he was snorting every day, Jackson says. "It started out light, and then it just escalated."
Jackson can cite the exact date when the addiction took control of Storch's life: July 28, 2006 — just more than three months after the birth of his second son, Jalen Scott Storch, born to Miami model Dalene Jennifer Daniel. That's the day the studio rat set off on the first extended vacation of his career, heading to the South of France. "When he came back," Jackson says, "his personality had started to succumb to the drug."
Jackson fumed as Storch left stars such as Janet Jackson sitting in the studio for several hours. Gossip flies fast in the music business, and before long, Storch was branded unreliable. Label honchos decided to spend their money elsewhere.
More than once, manager Jackson showed up at Villa Ferrari to coax Storch into getting clean. The inside of the mansion resembled a crack house, strewn with garbage and paraphernalia. Storch was surrounded by "takers" — fellow addicts, gold diggers, and bumbling handlers.
Constantly snorting bumps of coke, he now paired his jewelry with shirts stained from "blood that would just gush out of his nose at any given time." Storch seemed to Jackson like an animal, capable of viciousness but not reason: "Scott didn't give a fuck. You can't be humiliated while you're high. You're not conscious of the destruction you're wreaking on the lives of people around you. You feel nothing, you see nothing, but the drug."