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Kanye West has made $150 million off his music and Yeezy merchandise this year alone. Here's how the highest-paid hip-hop artist of 2019 made his fortune - and how he spends it.

Sep 21, 2019, 18:57 IST

Timothy Norris/Getty Images for Coachella

Kanye West has surpassed Jay-Z to become the highest-paid person in hip-hop, Forbes reported.

West has made an estimated $150 million in 2019 - almost double Jay-Z's $81 million, 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.

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.

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.

Forbes reported that Yeezy, which sells clothing and sneakers in partnership with Adidas, is expected to top $1.5 billion in sales in 2019.

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.

Read more: Kanye West's secret to building a footwear empire to compete with Nike

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, he 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 somewhere between $240 million and $1 billion.

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.

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.

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.

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.

It's unknown how much he paid for the property.

Most of the Kardashian-Jenner clan, including Kylie Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian, Kris Jenner, have homes of their own in Calabasas or Hidden Hills.

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.

Source: CityLab

West branched into commercial real estate earlier this year, 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.

Earlier this year, West discussed relocating to Chicagowhere he grew up — with his family.

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.

The 20-carat ring was reportedly stolen when Kardashian West was robbed in Paris in 2016, but the couple had a nearly identical version made to replace it.

In August 2018, West reportedly bought his wife a neon Mercedes truck.

In a Snapchat story, Kardashian reportedly called the vehicle, which is worth about $240,000, "the truck of [her] dreams."

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 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.

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.

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.

Although the exact extent of West's fortune is unclear, Kardashian West suggested last year that her husband was probably a billionaire.

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."

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