Media outlets from TMZ to Perez Hilton are reporting that Jay-Z is being sued for stiffing a Miami-based charter jet company, Air Platinum Holding, to the tune of $250,000 for not paying his flight bills.
Not so fast. The owner of the company, Mickael Cohen, is what you might call a familiar character to New Times.
Back in November 2009, we wrote about the flashy Frenchman's apparent distaste for paying bills and employee's wages. The angry debtors we spoke to included Cohen's former business partners, his director of marketing, and even the dealership who sold him his $500,000 Lamborghini-- and got rubber checks in return.
Cohen then threatened to sue New Times, and bizarrely claimed to have won a $2 million judgment against the Miami Herald in French court.
Desiree Perez, co-owner with Jay-Z of Manhattan's 40/40 nightclub, called Cohen "absolutely nuts and a liar" when contacted by Crossfade.
And though we're still waiting for response from Jay-Z's reps, the
former Air Platinum pilot who initially connected the rapper to Cohen's
charter company says that the claim is completely bogus.
"Of course he paid-- I saw the wire go through with my own eyes," says
pilot Richard Stoler. Jay-Z only stopped flying with Cohen after the
rapper "realized that the business was sketchy," the pilot says: "He
didn't want to pay in advance. He was fine with paying as he flew."
Former marketing director Ben Barbarot agrees: "Everything's been paid.
Jay-Z stopped flying with Mickael because he was crazy and wanted to
change the rate every day."
Cohen hung up when reached by Crossfade, then e-mailed us to say that his
cell phone battery had died. Then he wrote (all sic'd): "And why you
want talk with me now, after all the shits you said about me and my
company with my pathetic english?"
Cohen waved off the claims of his former pilot and marketing director:
"You trust Richard and Benjamin good for you, Richard and Benjamin had
no proof... We ask in the court only the money due, no damages, no
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Meanwhile, though Air Platinum went belly-up, Cohen apparently continues to rent flights through a new website. We're guessing he doesn't have many A-list rappers in his client Rolodex these days.
You can view the complaint, filed yesterday in Miami-Dade court, here.