Spoiler Alert: La La La Laaaa, you don’t have to wait until Kanye West gets his money right anymore. Oh, and you definitely can’t tell him nothin’.
According to Forbes, Kanye’s official net worth is $1.3 billion. Forbes calculated that his stake is worth $1.4 billion, but since it is “private [and] highly illiquid]” their rule is to take off at least 10% for the final tally, which is $1.26 billion.
Here’s where the “can’t tell [him] nothin’” part comes in because Kanye hit Forbes with the #wellactually, texting staff “It’s not a billion. It’s $3.3 billion since no one at Forbes knows how to count,” after the article was published.
As for their argument, Forbes broke it down:
Yeezy is a complicated asset. West owns 100% of it. But it’s functionally tied—at least for five-plus years based on the documents we saw—to Adidas, which produces, markets and distributes the shoes. There’s also a separate apparel division that we don’t believe makes money. Last year, our sources projected the shoes would finish 2019 with revenue north of $1.5 billion (Adidas would not comment then, or now). Per recent conversations and internal documents, we believe the final revenue number ended up closer to $1.3 billion.
Our sources told us last year that West’s agreement calls for him to receive a royalty around 15% of Yeezy revenue from Adidas. Upon closer inspection, it appears some expenses are carved out of that slice, bringing his actual cut closer to 11%. At that rate, he would have received royalties of over $140 million from Yeezy sales last year.
West’s aggressive $3 billion self-appraisal is clearly based on the idea that the business is infinitely portable. It’s not. Taking Yeezy away from Adidas seems almost prohibitively cumbersome, if not contractually impossible. A safer way to value it: as a royalty stream, like music publishing or film residuals. Multiples, based data from services like Royalty Exchange and reports of large private transactions, can range from as low as three for something faddish like Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” to 17 for an evergreen asset like the Eddie Murphy film Trading Places.
Not being a part of the official billionaire club has been a sore spot for Kanye for a minute now. He expressed his disappointment that Forbes wasn’t putting respect on his net-worthy name at the 2019 Fast Company Innovation Festival back in November.
“Martin Luther King didn’t get killed because he had a dream; he had something else he was gonna talk about: black empowerment, economic empowerment,” he said at the time. “When I did Forbes, I showed them a $890 million receipt and they still didn’t say ‘billionaire.’ They don’t want us to know that we can buy land. They don’t want us to have the 100 percent ownership [that] I have at Yeezy…Last year, I was killed by the press for having a difference—no, not having a difference of opinion, for having an opinion.”
‘Ye was also apparently extra pissed that he didn’t make the annual billionaires list when his little sister-in-law Kylie Jenner did. Now, he’ll be pleased to know that his wealth bested her by $300 million. Rich people problems.
And since we’re on the topic of Kanye’s opinions, one text sent to Forbes’ chief content officer read, “Trump 2020” along with a raised fist emoji. Yeah, yeah, yeah, he’s still unabashedly Team Trump (which tracks, given his tax bracket), but now I can’t stop thinking about the color of the raised fist emoji. Was it a black fist? A white fist? A default yellow fist? Or maybe, since Kanye is elite status, a limited edition orange first to match his president? These are the things that keep me up at night while being dubbed a triple billionaire keeps Kanye up at night. We are not the same.