Three guys walked into a bar.
One of them was hip-hop icon Jay-Z; the other two were in charge of the bill.
This was in February, and the general manager at Chelsea hot spot M2 says he's still trying to collect.
Michael Kyser and Shawn Costner, a couple of record execs with Atlantic and Universal, wanted to pay the bill at the end of the night, presumably so they could tell friends they took Jay-Z out for drinks. The rap star is a friend of the bar, which serves many celebrities.
"The bill would have been almost $5,000, but (the server) comped it down to $3,500, and we comped it down to $800," GM Dan Devlin said Friday. "And the 20 percent gratuity on the $3,500 would have taken the total up to $1,500."
The revelers slurped bottles of Patron and Grey Goose, among others. At the end of the night, Jay-Z "handed five $100 bills to the server, before the bill even came," Devlin said.
When the bill did come, the two hangers-on wanted to split it, so they coughed up the credit cards. Costner's was declined, so Kyser had to pick up the full $1,500.
"We went back to the bar to adjust the payment, and when we came back, they were gone," said Devlin, quick to make sure Jay-Z is not blamed. His $500 tip bought clearance; the two others insisted they'd pick up the rest.
Devlin said he Googled Kyser the next day and called him at Atlantic. Kyser's assistant apologized for the mix-up and said someone would get back in touch with Devlin. The return call never came.
The same thing happened the following week. And on the third try, the assistant told Devlin that "Michael doesn't remember being there," Devlin said, adding that he has pictures of that evening. Not to mention the credit card. Perhaps the Patron did him in.
But the one call that did come was from American Express, to say that Kyser was disputing the charge.
"And since he never signed the check, I don't have any evidence to show American Express," Devlin said.
"But this isn't about disparaging anyone," he continued. "We just don't like to contest many charges with the credit card because we risk losing the ability to accept it. And for a nightclub of our stature, to not be allowed to accept American Express would be disastrous. We need to maintain that good rapport with them."
When reached for comment, a spokeswoman for Kyser said he was out of town and unreachable.