Russell and Kimora Lee Simmons were married from 1998 to 2009, and they formed a business partnership that continued even after their divorce. “I created the category and we married fashion and hip hop culture,” Kimora told Refinery29 in October 2019 when talking about their Phat Farm and Baby Phat clothing lines.
In 2016, Kimora and her husband Tim Leissner joined Russell’s Nu Horizons investment company which “made considerable investments” in the energy drink brand Celsius Holdings, per E! News. This turned out to be the catalyst for the fallout between Russell and Kimora.
As covered by Forbes, Liessner found himself in a great deal of legal trouble for his involvement in the 1MBD scheme which defrauded a Malaysian fund for over $4 billion. Kimora’s husband was ordered to pay over $43 million after pleading guilty in 2018. “I fund my own business … my husband has nothing to do with my professional life,” Kimora told WWD at the time.
When Russell found out that Kimora and Liessner moved nearly four million Celsius stocks to themselves, he was convinced they committed fraudulent action to cover Kimora’s husband’s exorbitant legal expenses. This caused the hip hop icon to file a lawsuit against the couple, per E! “Defendants Leissner and Lee, knowing full well that they would be required to pay tens of millions for bail and possible victim compensation, conspired and effectuated … an unlawful fraudulent scheme,” Russell’s lawsuit claimed. Now, the lawsuit is heating up even more.
Kimora Simmons fires back
Along with the lawsuit, Russell Simmons included a letter where he expressed disappointment with Kimora Simmons’ actions. The famed producer claimed he had always gone above and beyond to provide for Kimora before and after their marriage. “I have never said no to any request and have always gone against my own council to offer up much more than any judge would ever require of me in order to keep the peace,” Russell wrote, per E! News.
Once Kimora caught wind of the lawsuit, her legal team issued a statement that characterized Russell’s lawsuit as “extortive harassment,” and defended her and Tim Leissner’s right to move the Celsius stock, per People. “This is an ill-advised attempt by Russell to use the legal system to access funds he is in no way entitled to, and which his own legal team confirms Russell did not pay for,” the statement from Kimora’s team read.
The strongly-worded statement described Russell’s lawsuit as “a desperate PR ploy,” and claimed that the legendary hip hop producer had no right to the Celsius stock, per People. In fact, the statement alleged that Russell owed his ex-wife millions. “This extortion attempt is especially egregious given that Russell remains contractually in debt to Kimora for millions of dollars in unpaid business loans,” the statement read.
In the past, the couple had maintained an amicable post-divorce relationship, and Kimora even made Russell the godfather to two of her children from other relationships, per Showbiz Cheat Sheet.
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