- Rapper and fashion designer Kanye West was declared a billionaire Friday after years of publicly insisting that he belongs in the three-comma club.
- The majority of West’s fortune comes not from his music, but from his footwear and apparel brand, Yeezy, which Bank of America valued at $3 billion in 2019.
- West owns $21 million in real estate, a $3.8 million car collection, and $297,050 worth of livestock, Forbes reports.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Kanye West has long called himself billionaire – and Forbes has finally agreed with him.
The magazine known for its annual Billionaires List declared West a billionaire after a years-long public campaign by the rapper and fashion designer. Despite being new to the three-comma club, West has long been open about the extravagant lifestyle he shares with his wife, Kim Kardashian West.
Together, the couple owns millions of dollars of luxury cars, real estate, and even nearly $200,000 worth of livestock, according to Forbes.
Here’s a look at how West has built and spent his billion-dollar fortune.
Kanye West is the highest-paid person in hip-hop.
The rapper raked in an estimated $150 million in 2019, according to Forbes. The publication looked at pretax income from June 2018 to June 2019 before deducting fees for agents, managers, and lawyers.
Jay-Z, the industry’s second-highest-paid artist, made an estimated $81 million in 2019. Drake is the third highest-paid hip-hop artist, with $75 million in pretax earnings.
Most of West’s fortune didn’t come from his music, however. He makes the majority of his money from his footwear and apparel brand, Yeezy.
Forbes estimates that Yeezy alone adds $1.26 billion to the rapper’s personal net worth.
Yeezy’s success has stemmed in part from West’s unique marketing strategies.
As Business Insider’s Mary Hanbury previously reported, West rolls out new products in limited numbers, which boosts the hype and causes them to sell out quickly. One hour after the Boost 350 sneakers went on sale for $200, for example, they were sold out in stores and online.
And it helps that his equally famous wife, Kim Kardashian West, is among his biggest supporters. In 2018, Kardashian West was at the center of her husband’s Yeezy Season 6 campaign, stepping out in public wearing the new collection and being photographed by the press.
West is known for hosting what he calls “Sunday Service,” an invitation-only spiritual gathering and performance usually held in Southern California.
During the services, West often sings and raps gospel versions of his own songs accompanied by a large choir.
The get-togethers have reportedly been attended by major celebrities including Brad Pitt, Dave Chappelle, A$AP Rocky, and Katy Perry – and everyone who attends reportedly has to sign a nondisclosure agreement.
Despite his current success, West’s personal finance journey has been somewhat tumultuous.
In 2014, he was worth an estimated $30 million, according to Forbes.
But in 2016, West tweeted that he was $53 million in debt and asked Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to invest $1 billion in “Kanye West ideas.”
Now, West’s net worth is estimated to be $1.3 billion, Forbes reports.
West and his family own $21 million worth of real estate, according to Forbes, including a palatial $60 million mansion in Hidden Hills, California.
The 15,667-square-foot home sits on three acres with expansive lawns, vineyards, and fountains.
As Insider’s Callie Ahlgrim previously reported, the home’s interior is minimalist, monochromatic, and includes a flat sink that baffled the internet after it was spotted during Kardashian West’s Vogue “73 Questions” interview in 2019.
The couple bought the home in 2014 for $20 million and reportedly spent four years and $20 million renovating it before they moved in in 2018. Kardashian West’s mother, Kris Jenner, later tweeted that the home was worth $60 million.
Variety reported in October that the Kardashian West family expanded their Hidden Hills estate by purchasing a neighboring property.
The just under 1.5-acre ranch-style property is divided by the street into two parts and was listed for $2.975 million.
Before that, the couple lived in a 9,000-square-foot mansion with six bedrooms and eight bathrooms in Bel Air Crest, a section of the ritzy Bel-Air neighborhood.
They sold the home in an off-market deal in 2017 for $17.8 million to Ukrainian billionaire Marina Acton.
It went back on the market in 2018 and sold for $14 million.
The hip-hop artist has dropped millions on real estate around the country. In New York City, his former Soho apartment (bought by West in 2004 and sold by him in 2018) was listed by the new owner for $4.7 million in September.
The 2,427-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment features a home automation system, custom lighting and sound systems, and access to a shared rooftop deck with panoramic views of lower Manhattan, CORE Real Estate told Business Insider’s Taylor Nicole Rogers.
The home is current in contract, with the price dropped to $3.99 million as of February 7.
Around the same time his former apartment in Manhattan hit the market again, West bought a $14 million ranch in Wyoming.
The massive property includes a restaurant and saloon, a ranch-style event venue, a maintenance shop, an office building, horse barns, sheds, corrals, storage facilities, and a state-of-the-art shooting range.
In an interview with Jimmy Fallon, Kardashian West said she envisions their family spending some summers and weekends at the Wyoming ranch.
TMZ reported in November that Kanye bought a second ranch in another part of Wyoming.
Bighorn Mountain Ranch sits on 6,713 acres and is located under 100 miles away from the first ranch West bought in September. Bighorn was listed with an asking price of $14.495 million.
Source: Business Insider
West also owns 300 acres of land in Calabasas, which neighbors the Hidden Hills gated community that he and his family currently call home.
It’s unknown how much he paid for the property.
Many other notable celebrities have owned homes in the area, from Drake to Justin Bieber to Miley Cyrus.
In a 2018 interview with radio host Charlemagne Tha God, West said he wanted to be “one of the biggest real estate developers of all time, what Howard Hughes was to aircrafts and Henry Ford was to cars…”
The rapper has tried to build a community of “Star Wars”-themed housing for the homeless on his 300-acre property in Calabasas, but in August he was cited by the city after allegedly building several dome-like structures – which he has said are temporary prototypes – without the proper permits.
Some of the structures have since been demolished.
West branched into commercial real estate in 2019, when it was reported that he would invest $1 million into a historic Chicago theater.
The owner of the Avalon Regal Theater said in February that West had committed to spending $1 million to renovate and reopen the 91-year-old movie theater, The Chicago Sun Times reported.
West goes all out buying lavish gifts for his wife.
Kardashian West has been spotted carrying a Hermes Birkin bag– which can sell for between $9,000 and $500,000 – that was gifted to her by West and painted by her daughter, North.
Kardashian West’s 20-carat diamond engagement ring, worth an estimated $4.5 million, is among the most expensive celebrity engagement rings.
That ring was not the ring West proposed with, but an upgrade from the original 15-carat ring.
In August 2018, West reportedly bought his wife a neon Mercedes truck.
That Christmas, West reportedly surprised his wife with a $14 million Miami apartment.
The 4,700-square-foot, four-bedroom South Beach condo has a massive wraparound terrace, floor-to-ceiling windows, and access to a gym, pool, and spa.
For Valentine’s Day 2019, West filled their living room with long-stemmed roses in individual vases and brought in American saxophonist Kenny G. to serenade Kardashian West.
The hip-hop artist also spends extravagantly on his children.
For Christmas in 2014, West reportedly spent $74,000 on gifts for his firstborn daughter, North, who was 18 months old at the time. The haul included a $62,000 diamond-encrusted tiara and a $12,000 toy replica of his black SUV.
West is also reported to have quite the luxury car collection.
He’s been photographed driving several different luxury cars that each cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
West owns $3,845,162 worth of vehicles, according to Forbes.
According to Auto World News, West has been photographed several times driving an Aston Martin DB9.
That Aston Martin model is worth about $200,000.
He’s also been spotted driving a Mercedes McLaren SLR.
Today, a used 2008 Mercedes McLaren SLR sells for about $300,000.
West isn’t the only billionaire in his family.
Forbes declared West’s then 21-year-old sister-in-law the world’s youngest self-made billionaire in March 2018.
“You’re not almost a billionaire, are you?” Kimmel asked Kardashian West.
“I would say my husband is,” Kardashian Jenner said. “So that makes me one, right? Close, by proximity.”
West has been calling himself a billionaire for years, contradicting Forbes’ estimates at the time.
West was sitting in the audience of the New York Times’ Dealbook Summit on November 6 while Kardashian West and Kris Jenner were being interviewed by The Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin, when he was asked by Sorkin how he handled marrying into such a successful family.
West said Forbes “chose to call him a centi-millionaire,” despite having “showed them receipts.” The magazine estimated West’s fortune at $240 million in June. Representatives for Forbes did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on their calculation of West’s net worth.
When the audience erupted in laughter, West said, “It wasn’t funny to me.”
West has been insisting that he’s a billionaire for years, but Forbes didn’t agree with him until Friday.
According to Forbes, West’s campaign to be added to the Billionaires List didn’t end at Dealbook. Forbes editor Zack O’Malley Greenburg wrote Friday that when the magazine published its most recent Billionaires List without West’s name but with his 22-year-old sister-in-law Kylie Jenner featured as the world’s youngest self-made billionaire for the second year running, West texted Forbes reporters accusing them of omitting him because of his race.
The magazine now estimates that West is worth $1.3 billion.
West says he’s worth $3.3 billion, but Forbes pegs his net worth at $1.3 billion.
Bloomberg, which seemingly reviewed the same financial documents Forbes based its estimate of West’s net worth on, acknowledged that West’s accountant provided documents showing that he has more than $3 billion worth of assets but didn’t go as far as to call him a billionaire outright. According to West, Yeezy’s shoe division is worth $3 billion alone, based on a 2019 valuation of the streetwear brand by Bank of America.
Bloomberg also wrote that Bank of America’s valuation of Yeezy may no longer be accurate, as it was calculated in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the United States. The crisis sank US apparel, accessories, and footwear sales 79% percent lower in April than they were during the same time in 2019, Bloomberg reported. Bloomberg estimates that Yeezy may be faring above average, however, as it has no brick-and-mortar retail stores and relies on Adidas for logistics.