- Timothy Norris/Getty Images for Coachella
- Kanye West just called himself a billionaire – and said he proved it to Forbes.
- West has brought in an estimated $150 million in 2019, which is almost double the approximately $81 million Jay-Z (a distant No. 2) brought in the same year.
- The majority of West’s fortune comes not from his music, but from his footwear and apparel brand, Yeezy, which is expected to top $1.5 billion in sales in 2019, according to Forbes.
- The hip-hop artist spends his millions on luxury cars; lavish gifts for his wife, Kim Kardashian West, and their children; and an impressive real-estate portfolio that includes a $14 million Wyoming ranch.
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Kanye West says he’s a billionaire – and that he has the receipts to prove it.
West said Forbes “chose to call him a centi-millionaire,” despite having “showed them receipts,” at the New York Times’ Dealbook Conference on November 6. Forbes estimated West’s fortune at $240 million in June.
West, who released his widely anticipated album “Jesus is King” on October 25, has made an estimated $150 million in 2019 – almost double the $81 million Jay-Z made in the same period, according to Forbes. The publication looked at pretax income from June 2018 to June 2019 before deducting fees for agents, managers, and lawyers.
But the majority of West’s fortune doesn’t come from his music, Forbes reported. His footwear and apparel brand, Yeezy, is expected to bring in more than $1.5 billion in sales in 2019.
Here’s a look at how West has built and spends his multimillion-dollar fortune.
Kanye West is officially the highest-paid person in hip-hop, according to Forbes. The rapper raked in an estimated $150 million in 2019.
- Roy Rochlin/Getty Images
The publication looked at pretax income from June 2018 to June 2019 before deducting fees for agents, managers, and lawyers.
West is now worth about five times more than he was in 2014.
For the first time, West surpassed Jay-Z as the highest-paid person in hip-hop.
- Michael Buckner/Getty
Jay-Z 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, according to Forbes. He makes the majority of his money from his footwear and apparel brand, Yeezy.
- Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic
Yeezy’s success has stemmed in part from West’s unique marketing strategies.
- Randy Brooke/Getty Images
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 $200, for example, they were sold out in stores and online.
And it helps that his equally famous wife, Kim Kardashian West, is among his biggest supporters. In 2018, Kardashian West was at the center of her husband’s Yeezy Season 6 campaign, stepping out in public wearing the new collection and being photographed by the press.
West is known for hosting what he calls “Sunday Service,” an invitation-only spiritual gathering and performance usually held in Southern California.
- Rich Fury/Getty Images for Coachella
During the services, West often sings and raps gospel versions of his own songs accompanied by a large choir.
The get-togethers have reportedly been attended by major celebrities including Brad Pitt, Dave Chappelle, A$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.
- Getty Images
In 2014, he was worth an estimated $30 million, according to Forbes.
But in 2016, he tweeted that he was $53 million in debt and asked Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to invest $1 billion in “Kanye West ideas.”
West and his family live in 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 cover story.
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.
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.
- Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
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 in 2018) just went back on the market for $4.7 million.
- Tim Waltman/Evan Joseph Images for CORE
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, according to CORE Real Estate told Business Insider’s Taylor Nicole Rogers.
Days before his one-time Manhattan apartment hit the market, West bought a $14 million ranch in Wyoming.
- J. P. King Auction Company
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.
West also owns 300 acres of land in Calabasas, which neighbors the Hidden Hills gated community that he and his family currently call home.
- Getty Images
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 earlier this year, when it was reported that he would invest $1 million into a historic Chicago theater.
- John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
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.
- Getty Images/Jason Merritt and Instagram/Kim Kardashian
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.
- Splash News
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 this year, 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.
- Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Yeezy Season 3
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.
- Bauer-Griffin/GC Images
He’s been photographed driving several different luxury cars that each cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
According to Auto World News, West has been photographed several times driving an Aston Martin DB9.
- Martyn Lucy/Getty Images
That Aston Martin model is worth about $200,000.
He’s also been spotted driving a Mercedes McLaren SLR.
- Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images
Today, a used 2008 Mercedes McLaren SLR sells for about $300,000.
Although the exact extent of West’s fortune is unclear, Kardashian West suggested last year that her husband was probably a billionaire.
- gotpap/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images
In a July 2018 interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Kardashian West said it didn’t come as a surprise to her when Forbes reported that her younger sister, Kylie Jenner, was almost a billionaire. (Less than a year later, Forbes reported that Jenner had indeed reached billionaire status.)
“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 called himself a billionaire at the New York Times’ Dealbook Summit on November 6.
- REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
West was not scheduled to speak at the event, but was sitting in the audience while Kardashian West and Kris Jenner were being interviewed by The Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin. West 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.”