Forbes recently released its list of America’s Wealthiest Celebrities for 2018, and Jay-Z comes in at number 5, at a net worth of $900 million. He follows Michael Jordan ($1.7 billion), Oprah Winfrey ($2.8 billion), Steven Spielberg ($3.7 billion), and George Lucas ($5.4 billion), making him the richest musician in the country. Diddy is the only other musician on the list, at number 8 ($820 million).
The Everything Is Love artist’s net worth reportedly spiked $90 million from 2017's figures due to stakes in Armand de Brignac champagne, D’Ussé cognac, and holdings in Roc Nation and Tidal.
“That was the greatest trick in music that people ever pulled off, to convince artists that you can’t be an artist and make money,” Jay-Z told Forbes in a 2018 interview. “When you’re in the studio, you’re an artist, you make music, and then after you finish, you market it to the world. I don’t think anything is wrong with that. In fact, I know there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Okay. Let’s crunch these damned numbers.
The historically lauded business magazine noted their methodology as follows:
This list uses net worth earnings previously published for the Forbes 400, Billionaires list and ranking of America’s Richest Self-Made Women. Celebrities not on those lists were valued through private company stakes and publicly traded assets. Real estate, art and other assets were also factored in where applicable. For entertainers without such holdings, we based estimates on net lifetime earnings after taxes and spending. Eligibility was limited to American citizens who’ve gotten rich off their fame, rather than become famous for their wealth.
One part of the list naturally stood out: Jay’s ranking had the word “tie” next to it. His partner? Kylie goddamn Jenner. Cue social media tizzy. If you remember, Kylie’s inaccurate “self-made billionaire” title had folks up in arms, as well.
Obviously sensational definition of “self-made” aside, the very calculation to determine Kylie’s (or anyone’s) net worth is currently fishy at best. Instead of relying on celebrities to disclose tax returns and balance sheets (good luck), Forbes determined their estimates by consulting outside experts and comparing it to private companies.
As The Root’s Michael Harriot broke it down so it can forever be broke:
Forbes values Kylie Cosmetics at $800 million based on sales of $330 million in 2017. By comparison, last year, Avon Products generated $5.7 billion in revenue, but somehow using actual real-world math, the company is only valued at $1.5 billion. Furthermore, Avon manufactures many of its own products, while Kylie Cosmetics’ products are basically more expensive, rebranded products from Seed Beauty, which may or may not manufacture the products themselves.
So even if Kylie negotiated the best profit margin in the history of companies, it is hard for anyone with a logical business mind to believe that—after expenses—Kylie Cosmetics even made $100 million in profit. Avon’s profit on $5.7 billion in sales was $273 million dollars.
Forbes even said Mama Overlord Kris Jenner’s claims that revenue increased “considerably” was a claim they couldn’t verify, back in July.
In relation to private companies, Forbes noted in 2012:
Not that we pretend to know what is listed on everyone’s private balance sheet, though some folks do provide that information. We do attempt to vet these numbers with all billionaires. Some cooperate, others don’t.
Lovely. Public relations for the win, I suppose.