Citing from multiple publications with claims that rapper Kanye West is the richest black man in the Us, Forbes has cleared the air on the non-factual news making waves.
On Wednesday, multiple outlets reported that Kanye West is the richest Black person in America, worth as much as $6.6 billion. The news comes after Bloomberg reported that his sneaker brand, Yeezy—as well as Yeezy Gap, which has yet to sell one stitch of clothing—have a combined value of as much as $4.7 billion. The publication mentioned, without going into full detail, an additional $1.7 billion in assets.
It’s not true, based on our calculations. Forbes estimates he’s worth less than a third of that, or $1.8 billion. That’s a big jump from last May when Forbes first pegged his net worth to be $1.3 billion, but nowhere near as much as the purported $6.6 billion. Vista Equity’s Robert F. Smith remains the richest Black person in the U.S., worth an estimated $6 billion, while Aliko Dangote of Nigeria, worth $11.8 billion, is the richest Black person in the world.
Yeezy: $1.5 billion
Still the crown jewel of his fortune, sales of West’s sneaker brand, which has a ten-year-long production deal with Adidas, climbed to $1.7 billion last year, up from $1.3 billion in 2019. As a result, West earned $191 million in royalties last year. It’s impressive growth. While UBS predicts the brand will reach over $3 billion in sales by 2026, and valued it accordingly, we went with 2020 numbers: The operating income of Yeezy, which is 100% owned by West, was $214 million in 2020. With a nine-times multiple and 20% private company discount, Forbes calculates that the Yeezy business with Adidas is worth $1.5 billion, about $250 million more than it was a year ago.
Cash and other assets: $160 million
Thanks to the millions he’s made from Yeezy and his music, West has accumulated a nice-size pile of cash, as well as homes and toys. He owns more than $100 million in real estate—including multiple ranches in Wyoming and homes in the Los Angeles area. According to a balance sheet sent over by his team, there’s also $9.3 million worth of artwork, $7.6 million worth of jewelry, $5 million worth of vehicles, $3.4 million worth of furniture and $1 million worth of livestock. Along the way, he has also racked up a significant amount of debt: $56 million. We couldn’t track down every horse, chair and necklace, so again applied a discount to the numbers provided. We also didn’t include any value for the website Yeezy Supply, which West’s camp claims is worth $1.5 billion. Forbes counts its value via royalties of the Yeezy shoe sales made through the site in the Adidas deal.
Music catalogue: $90 million
While he may make most of his money as a fashion mogul, West started out as one of the world’s most popular rappers, and his catalogue of songs still brings in millions in royalties each year. Just like with Yeezy, he could cash out on that royalty stream, as musicians from Shakira to Bob Dylan have in the last year.
Skims: $64 million
West and his soon-to-be ex-wife Kim Kardashian West may have ended their marital relationship, but they maintain certain business ties. West has a small stake in his ex’s shape wear and loungewear company Skims, which has grown during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Yeezy x Gap: $0
While West’s team insists the Yeezy x Gap deal is worth about $1.5 billion and the Bloomberg story says it could be worth as much as $970 million, Forbes isn’t giving this any value until the products start to sell. The deal, announced in June, sent Gap’s stock soaring, and CEO Sonia Syngal spoke of its “big potential” in an earnings call earlier this month. But the line hasn’t sold one piece of clothing yet.