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Journalist facing $230,000 judgment to Getty heiress ordered to forfeit all earnings

Yashar Ali, who has more than 700,000 Twitter followers, owes Ariadne Getty nearly $250,000. Now anything he makes will go to her.

LOS ANGELES (CN) — A California judge ordered the activist and journalist Yashar Ali on Wednesday to transfer his future earnings to Ariadne Getty, granddaughter of oil tycoon Jean Paul Getty.

The ruling was made after a roughly minute-long hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court. Neither Ali nor his attorney entered any objection to the motion, meant to fulfill Ali's $232,769 debt to Getty that has been assigned to a judgment creditor.

Judge Michael Stern ruled that Arden Silverman, the judgment creditor, is entitled to "all rights to future payments" that Ali receives from Twitter, HuffPost, MSNBC News, New York Magazine, PayPal, Venmo, Square, GoFundMe, Zelle and SubStack.

Silverman said in a phone interview after the hearing that he didn't know how much money Ali makes.

"The short answer is no," he said, "but I suspect, with almost a million Twitter followers, there are advertising sources of revenue. These platforms are looking for high-volume participants. So for the most part, whatever money is due to him will now be diverted to us."

Ali, 43, did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment on this story.

Yashar Ali Heyadat, as he is identified in court documents, has worked in both politics and journalism but is best known by his social media presence in which activism, reportage and deeply personal diary-style writing commingle. Time Magazine included Ali on its 2019 list of the "25 most influential people on the internet," along with President Donald Trump, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and something called the "world record egg."

In addition to his more than 700,000 followers on Twitter, Ali has over than 42,000 subscribers on SubStack, where he recently published a story about Shelly Miscavige, the wife of Scientology leader David Miscavige, whom some claim is either missing or being kept prisoner. A spokesperson for the Church of Scientology said, in an email, that Ali's report is based on a "false police report" filed by actor and former Scientologist Leah Remini, and that Ali is part of Remini's "hate campaign" against the church. Ali's post is free to read but the newsletter offers readers the option of subscribing for $5 a month, or $49 for a year.

In 2022, the LAPD issued a statement regarding Remini's claims, saying detectives with the missing persons unit made contact with Shelly Miscavige and her attorney in 2014, found her to be alive and safe, and closed the investigation.

In 2021, Los Angeles Magazine ran a 6,000-word profile on Ali, calling him a "Twitter power broker" who is adept at forming online relationships with celebrities like CNN's Jake Tapper and comedian Kathy Griffin. The story sketched out how those bonds could often sour when they transferred over to the real world. It notes as an example that Ali lived with Griffin for up to nine months — Ali says it was less six — serving as her "confidante-slash-executive assistant." Eventually, a friend of Griffin's warned her that Ali was a "grifter," and Ali was asked to leave.

The article also recounts the 2017 civil complaint that led to the nearly quarter-of-a-million-dollar debt that Ali owes Getty. Ali had promised to pay Getty back $500 per month after the oil heiress said she had lent him around $179,000 over the years. Court filings show that Ali made two payments and then stopped, leaving a debt of $166,429. Since then, interest has caused that amount to grow to $232,769.

Ali sued LA Magazine for defamation over its profile, which he said included a number of inaccuracies "to support the narrative that Ali supposedly is a sloppy journalist who eschews fact-checking and that Ali back stabs his friends to get ahead in his profession." The magazine moved to dismiss the lawsuit on anti-SLAPP grounds, arguing that the article was factually true and protected by the First Amendment. Though a judge threw out most of the complaint, including the defamation claim, this past January, Ali was allowed to seek nominal damages for his breach of contract claim. The judge later ordered Ali to pay attorneys' fees for the magazine. A jury trial in the case is scheduled for December 2024.

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Categories / Entertainment, Media

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