In May 2021, veteran music executive Russell Simmons filed a lawsuit against Kimora and her husband, Tim Leissner, for allegedly transferring and using Russell’s shares from Celsius’s energy drink company as collateral for Leissner’s bond in his court case. In 2018, the former Goldman Sachs managing director pleaded guilty to charges related to a $2.7 billion money-laundering scheme out of Malaysia. The Def Jam co-founder says he tried to handle the issue privately. However, says Kimora refused to communicate with the businessman. Now Russell wants to be reimbursed with interest restitution.
However, in newly filed documents obtained by Radar Online, Kimora’s attorney stated, “at the time Defendants used the Celsius shares for purposes of the bond in connection with the federal case, Lee understood and believed that Defendants were authorized to use the shares for the bond.” Furthermore, the Baby Phat founder claims Russell resigned from the board of Nu Horizons well before the transfer was initiated. He also sold off his interest in the company and other assets to another company called Keyway Pride LTD for $14.25 million.
Kimora states Russell has no proof she or her husband stole from him. She argued that the shares were not sold but are being temporarily held by the government in exchange for her husband’s bond and will be returned. She now wants the suit against her thrown out.
Kimora initially reacted to news of the lawsuit by calling it an “extortion attempt” and a “desperate PR ploy.” Her reps told the outlet, “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. Russell’s continued aggressive behavior not only blatantly distorts the facts but is simply a desperate PR ploy ignoring the years of mental and emotional anguish, gaslighting, and ongoing harassment he has inflicted on Kimora.”
Russell and Kimora met in November 1992. They married six years later in December 1998 on the island of Saint Barthélemy but called it quits by March 2006. They share two daughters, 21-year-old Ming Lee and 19-year-old Aoki Lee Simmons, and had remained close friends and business partners throughout the years.