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Jay-Z stake in Brooklyn Nets brings controversy

Brooklyn Nets

Jay-Z's ownership stake in the Nets has been in the news for a couple of months, since David Halbfinger of the New York Times wrote that his stake in the team is 1/15th of one percent. Previously, his stake had been reported at anywhere from 1.47 percent (before Mikhail Prokhorov bought the team) to 1/3rd of one percent after.

During the concert series at Barclays Center, he seemed to indicate that he owned more of the team than the figure reported by the Times and said he was proud to be an owner of the Nets. he indicated that he owned more of the team than the 1/15th of one percent reported by the New York Times and said he was proud to be an owner of the Nets.

"[I'm] a young black African male who was raised in a single-parent home in low-income housing and I stand before you as an owner of the Brooklyn Nets," he said to wild cheering at his last concert.

Now, Cornel West, the Princeton professor and writer on racial issues, has added to the issue by asking that Jay-Z "tell the truth" about his stake. "Jay-Z came from the Marcy projects, but look at him now. He owns the whole - no, he owns one-fifteenth of one percent of the whole stadium. Let's get it right, now," he said. "They got a Russian gangster who owns 80 percent."

The short video in which West asks for the accounting doesn't indicate the context for West's request.

Jay-Z is one of more than 100 investors with small stakes in the team, some holdovers from the Secaucus Seven, some from the Lewis Katz-Ray Chambers group, some from Bruce Ratner's group. Prokhorov's Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holding USA owns 80 percent of the team and 45 percent of the arena.

Jay-Z's investment is not his only connection to the team and arena. He is rewarded in other ways for his celebrity status, which is not uncommon for high-profile investors in any project.

For example, according to Halbfinger, he received a free suite, worth $550,000, in "The Vault", Barclays Center's most exclusive club. Also, construction records seem to indicate that arena investors, not Jay-Z, paid for the $1.7 million cost of converting a generic bar at the arena into the 40-40 Club. In addition, Translation, his 50 percent-owned advertising agency, was awarded the commission for the Nets' move from New Jersey to Brooklyn. More significantly, he is a member of the board of directors of Barclays Center.