Why you should pretend to be rich

Why you should pretend to be rich
PHOTO: The Straits Times

50 Cent says he's done it. Why not you? The art and science of leasing a lifestyle.

Scroll through rapper 50 Cent's Instagram feed and you'll find a preponderance of photos where he basks in unimaginable riches.

There's the shot where the rapper, real name Curtis James Jackson III, can't seem to find his legs because they're buried under $100 bills.

There's another where he's stocked his refrigerator with bundles of greenbacks.

More confusing still is a snap where the rapper arranges his "lunch money" ($100 bills) to spell out the word "broke".

That last image is the most telling. Jackson filed for bankruptcy in July last year, claiming debts of between US$10m and US$50m, according to court documents.

But when the 40-year-old was summoned to a Connecticut court in the US this February, the judge explained that she was having trouble reconciling the man in front of her with the man in those Instagram photos.

The rapper's creditors had tipped her off to the Instagram account, according to the New York Times. Jackson's response was as simple as it was unexpected.

The piles of notes were "prop money", he wrote in documents filed to the court.

"Just because I am photographed in or next to a certain vehicle, wearing an article of clothing, holding a product, sitting next to what appears to be large sums of money or modelling expensive pieces of jewellery does not meant that I own everything in those photos."

The rapper is hardly the first person to prop up his public image with borrowed finery.

It's an open secret in Hollywood that much of the clothing and jewellery worn by celebrities has been "seeded", or loaned, to them by fashion brands.

And those lavish cars?

They're often leased (or even rented) from high-end dealers who specialise in working with athletes and stars.

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