Among them is Rapid Funding of Washington, which won a $5.2 million judgment against Hunt after he and some partners fell months behind repaying a loan for a planned Eastern Shore development. The creditor’s attorneys have filed a series of lawsuits to claim Hunt’s assets.
There were other signs of trouble, too. Hunt was arrested in September 2006 in Arlington County for possession of marijuana, court records show. The charges were dropped. In 2009, Hunt was arrested by Houston police for possession of cocaine and ecstasy, according to court records that also show the charges were dismissed.
Just before the sale of RSIS, Hunt started to spend more time in Texas, first in Austin and later Houston. By then, he was seeing a former RSIS employee named Judith Wasserman, whom he began to introduce as his fiancee. The couple applied for a marriage license in 2008, county records show, but it’s unclear whether they married. The pair bought several pieces of property together in Austin and around Houston.
Wasserman called Hunt “the most generous person she ever met” but declined to comment further, citing ongoing legal proceedings.
Hunt lavished on Wasserman expensive clothing and jewelry purchased at St. Thomas Boutique, a high-end shop in Austin, according to court documents.
In 2006, boutique co-owner Riley Estebes de Silva helped the couple make a splashy debut on the Austin social scene. Hunt and Wasserman were listed as sponsors of a charity fashion show to raise money for the Austin Museum of Art.
Hunt personally negotiated the appearance of Lizzie Jagger, a daughter of the Rolling Stones’ frontman. Jagger’s fee was $75,000, which Hunt agreed in writing to pay but didn’t, leaving Estebes de Silva to foot the bill, according to a lawsuit Estebes de Silva later filed.
In court filings, the shop owner said Hunt also stopped reimbursing him for clothing, jewelry and other purchases and owed him $340,500. The suit was later settled, and Estebes de Silva declined to comment.
Hunt moved on to Houston, where he tried to remake himself into a P. Diddy-style hip-hop music and fashion mogul, in part to help his son Bradley’s music career.
He set up Currency Clothing, a fashion label, and designed a gold high-top sneaker. He went into business with Johnny Dang, a Vietnamese immigrant who calls himself the King of Bling. Dang specializes in massive, jewel-encrusted pendants and grills — or dental jewelry — for rap artists and other celebrities, including Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte. Hunt had Dang custom-make him several super-size diamond-covered rings, including one with a retail value of $185,000. Hunt still owes money to Dang, according to court records. Dang declined to comment, citing pending litigation.
Hunt’s real baby was RPH Entertainment, a music label with his initials, whose gold crestlike logo consists of a crown and a pair of wings above the slogan “The World Is Ours.” Dang introduced him to various rap artists around Houston, and RPH began representing some of them.
Most of the artists were struggling and obscure, with the exception of Milton Powell, who performs as Big Pokey. To promote the artists, RPH released a compilation called “Money, Cars, Clothes, and Hoes.”
Just as he had in Austin, Hunt made a big splash, throwing parties at the Hotel Derek, which was listed as his address on his 2009 drug arrest record. But his artists didn’t see their careers take off.
“They just knew how to do parties. They were running around spending a lot of money. They signed a lot of artists, but didn’t do anything,” said Ronnie Thomas, a veteran manager who now represents Big Pokey.
Back in Washington, many of Hunt’s neighbors and former associates had no idea what he was up to. Then, a few weeks ago, as the auction advertisement began to circulate, they learned that his house was being foreclosed on.
It was a sad, strange twist to Hunt’s rags-to-riches rise. Then again, as Hunt observed in his Cornell speech: “In building wealth, one of the things I learned . . . is that you never know what’s going to happen in the business world.”
Jennifer Jenkins, Julie Tate, Thomas Heath and Dan Eggen contributed to this report.