Why Kanye West dropped off the Forbes Billionaires List


Kanye West lobbied for years to join the Forbes World’s Billionaires list, and in 2020, after showing documents that proved his net worth, finally made it. But after a three-year run, the controversially outspoken rapper has fallen off.

In the wake of a series of antisemitic remarks, Adidas announced in October 2022 that it was ending their lucrative Yeezy sneakers partnership with West, which made up the lion’s share of his wealth.

West, who goes by Ye, spent a good chunk of 2022 ratcheting up his rhetoric against Jews; his “death con 3 on Jewish people” tweet in October got his Twitter account temporarily locked, while other antisemitic remarks got him blocked on Instagram. Also in October: hundreds of thousands of people on social media called on Adidas to get rid of Ye, and end their nearly decade-long Yeezy sneakers deal. “I can say antisemitic s—- and Adidas cannot drop me,” Ye proclaimed on the Drink Champs podcast in October.

On October 25, Adidas called Ye’s bluff and ended their relationship. It ended up costing Adidas dearly—the company says some $535 million of forecasted operating profit is on the line, thanks to a mountain of unsold Yeezys —but cost Ye even more, to the tune of a stunning $1.5 billion, and immediately knocked him off Forbes’ list of the World’s Billionaires.

That death blow to Ye’s net worth capped off a devastating yet self-induced downfall for the rapper. He debuted on the billionaires list in 2020 with a net worth of $1 billion, thanks to the Adidas partnership. It was a triumphant moment for Ye, who started working with Adidas on Yeezy in 2013. Ye was worth an estimated $1.8 billion in 2021 and $2 billion in 2022. He was never happy with his net worth, complaining that he was being undervalued. “It’s not a billion,” he texted a Forbes editor after his 2020 debut. “It’s $3.3 billion since no one at Forbes knows how to count.”


Forbes valued the Adidas deal in 2022 at $1.5 billion, based on a forward multiple of the royalties Ye was being paid. Since Ye’s deal was straight income based on specific sales targets, Forbes viewed the partnership like it was film residuals or music royalties, which are annual recurring cash streams. Ye’s Adidas income could be sold off, insiders said, much like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen have sold their music catalogs for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Without Adidas, Ye’s net worth stands at an estimated $400 million. He had partnerships with clothing retailer Gap and haute couture house Balenciaga that were terminated in the month leading up to the Adidas deal collapse, but neither made up a significant portion of his fortune. What’s left are his cash and liquid investments (roughly $100 million), his music catalog ($130 million), and his 5% stake in ex-wife Kim Kardashian’s shapewear company Skims ($128 million.) A Skims spokesperson told Forbes in October 2022 that Ye had not been involved at the company since its 2019 launch. Given fluctuations in royalties and a cooling market for music catalogs, it’s possible Ye’s catalog could be worth even less than Forbes estimates.

What is Ye up to these days? Another presidential campaign, it seems, according to a November announcement. In January, Ye reportedly was set to visit Australia, the home country of his new wife (and head Yeezy architect) Bianca Censori.

But there was one hitch in those plans. Australia’s politicians clamored to have Ye banned from entering the country.

Why? His antisemitic remarks.

This article was first published on forbes.com and all figures are in USD.

Billionaires List