Just a few hours after the news that the popular singer Kanye West is the richest Black person in America, worth as much as $6.
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.
However, the popular financial ranking site; Forbes has said that is not true, based on their 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.
The sky-high estimate is the latest of West’s attempts to inflate his net worth—in the past, he’s said that Forbes was “purposely snubbing me.”
In actuality, it’s nothing personal. The Bloomberg story cites a UBS report on his businesses—the same document Forbes saw earlier this month. The bank made a number of assumptions based on projected future earnings, particularly for Yeezy Gap, which hasn’t even launched yet. Bank documents like this are well-known for painting best-possible-scenario future valuations.
Forbes’ much more grounded number is based on that old-fashioned idea of current revenues—not theoretical future expectations. Yeezy Gap has brought in no revenue, let alone any profits. Who knows if the line will be popular? Maybe another hip-hop star will create the next trendy sneaker in a year or two, and Yeezys will be old news. The same thinking goes for Yeezy Supply, West’s e-commerce platform. He has high hopes to turn it into a fashion destination—as of now, it just shills his shoes.
As for Yeezy sneakers, they’re selling crazy well. The company’s revenue grew 30% last year. and its most recent limited drop, the 450 in Cloud White, sold out in under a minute. Analysts with who we spoke agree there’s growth left in the business, and if that occurs, his net worth will continue to climb. But even that’s not 100% certain, so for now, we are sticking with 2020’s numbers.
Forbes countered Kanye West:
West claim Yeezy worth $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.