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How Rihanna Created A $600 Million Fortune—And Became The World’s Richest Female Musician

Famous first as a singer, Robyn Rihanna Fenty, age 31, has since evolved into a style icon and makeup entrepreneur—and soon she’ll be the first black woman in charge of a major luxury fashion house. All those efforts add up to a $600 million fortune, making her the wealthiest female musician in the world, ahead of the likes of Madonna ($570 million), Céline Dion ($450 million) and Beyoncé ($400 million).

[Read more | Artist, Icon, Billionaire: How Jay-Z Spun Fame Into A $1 Billion Fortune]

Most of that comes not from music but from her partnership with LVMH, the French luxury goods giant run by billionaire Bernard Arnault. Rihanna (pronounced “Ri-ann-ah,” not “Ri-ah-nah,” as she recently clarified) and LVMH co-own the makeup brand Fenty Beauty. It launched in September 2017 at Sephora, another LVMH brand, and online at FentyBeauty.com, quickly becoming a viral success. Fenty Beauty racked up a reported $100 million in sales in its first few weeks, propelled by Rihanna’s fame and 71 million Instagram followers.

The entire personal care industry in America has grown huge in recent years. According to Grand View Research, it could swell to more than $200 billion in sales by 2025, up from closer to $130 billion in 2016. The market saw a record 134 M&A deals last year, including P&G’s $250 million purchase of 10-year-old First Aid Beauty. Perhaps the most telling data point: 11 of the 80 women on Forbes‘ list of the Richest Self-Made Women made their money in beauty or skin care products. Many did what Rihanna did, turn to the low-cost marketing opportunity presented by social media. That works best for existing celebrities, as Kylie Jenner and her Kylie Cosmetics proved out, who can push their new products at their existing followers.

Fenty Beauty has differentiated itself in another way, releasing 40 shades of foundation, far more than the handful of hues sold by other brands. “It challenged the standard convention that you only needed a very defined set of shades to satisfy a market,” says Stephanie Wissink, a research analyst at Jefferies. “Not only did [Fenty Beauty] achieve meaningful sales, but it potentially changed the industry permanently.”

Sales continue to soar. Fenty Beauty generated an estimated $570 million in revenue last year, after only 15 months in business. The entire operation is worth, conservatively, more than $3 billion. Forbes estimates thatLVMH owns an estimated 50% of it, while Rihanna has about 15%, a figure a spokesperson for the artist disputed but wouldn’t clarify further.

The Barbados native, who overcame hardships including an abusive addict father and a well-publicized assault by then-boyfriend Chris Brown in 2009, also co-owns the Savage X Fenty lingerie line with Los Angeles-based online fashion firm TechStyle Fashion Group and has millions in earnings from her career touring and releasing as a singer, which make up the rest of her fortune.

Her empire continues to grow. In May, LVMH and Rihanna announced Fenty, a new clothing house that will make high-end clothes, shoes, accessories and jewelry.

“They extended the offer to me and it was a no-brainer because LVMH is a machine,” Rihanna told The New York Times Style Magazine. “Bernard Arnault was so enthusiastic; he trusted me and my vision.”

The fashion line, which launched online in May, includes sizes up to U.S. 14, embodying the same inclusive ideal of Fenty Beauty. It will exist under the same umbrella as famous brands such as Dior and Givenchy, marking LVMH’s first new house in more than 30 years.

“What Fenty Beauty did to beauty, Fenty lifestyle is going to do to fashion,” says Wissink. “It’s going to raise the bar for what it looks like to build a brand that’s inclusive, game changing, global and iconic.”

Inset photographs: Getty Images

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I’m an associate editor at Forbes covering media and entertainment, with a focus on the movie business.

Source: How Rihanna Created A $600 Million Fortune—And Became The World’s Richest Female Musician

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Celebrities at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Festival 2019 Julianne Moore

At the opening press conference on Monday, Theirry Frémaux, artistic director of the festival, addressed the decision directly and dismissed any criticism. “We’re not giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Alain Delon,” Frémaux said. “We’re giving him the honorary Palme D’Or for his career as an actor.” He continued, “Nowadays it’s difficult to give awards, to honor someone, because the political police immediately appear. Alain Delon is not perfect. I’m not perfect.”

What is always pretty flawless at Cannes, of course, are the legion of celebrities who come to the French Riviera for one of the most important film festivals of the year. The opening night movie—the zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die by beloved Cannes auteur Jim Jarmusch—features one of the most eclectic casts ever to walk the red carpet, including Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloe Sevigny, Tilda Swinton, Selena Gomez, and Tom Waits.

Other celebrities who came out for the opening ceremony include director Alejandro González Iñárritu, president of the jury overseeing the main competition; jury member Elle Fanning (who wore a Gucci gown with Chopard diamonds); Julianne Moore (above, in an emerald Dior gown with matching emerald jewels by Chopard); Alessandra Ambrosio (in a diaphanous Ralph & Russo gown with Bouchon jewels and René Caovilla shoes); and Eva Longoria (who wore a custom Alberta Ferretti gown).

In addition to Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die, the pre-festival favorite for the Palme d’Or is Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood, which will have its three stars—Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margot Robbie—lighting up the red carpet. The supporting cast isn’t too shabby either, including Al Pacino, Lena Dunham, Damian Lewis and the late Luke Perry.

Set in 1969 Los Angeles, the film stars DiCaprio as Rick Dalton, an actor trying to transition from television to movies, while Pitt plays his stunt double and best friend. Robbie portrays Dalton’s neighbor, actress Sharon Tate, who was married to director Roman Polanski at the time and was murdered in her home that summer by followers of Charles Manson.

Once Upon a Time will premiere 25 years after Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, and despite that omen the movie is by no means a lock for the award. Also in competition is Pain and Glory, starring Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz, and directed by Cannes favorite Pedro Almodóvar. And Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life, about an Austrian who refuses to fight for the Third Reich during World War II, is expected to generate lots of buzz on the famed Croisette.

Among the most anticipated films out of competition is the Elton John biopic Rocketman starring Taron Egerton in the title role. Will Egerton’s performance, in which he does his own singing, help blast him off to an Oscar like Rami Malek’s Freddie Mercury portrayal in Bohemian Rhapsody? The film hits the yellow brick road on May 16 and will be released on May 31.

But even if the Cannes Film Festival didn’t have Rocketman, the fans (and of course the paparazzi) really come to see the galaxy of stars.

I am the editor of ForbesLife (né Forbes FYI), a luxury lifestyle publication covering fashion, travel, cars, watches, and other indulgences.

Source: Celebrities at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival

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