Is Rihanna Fenty the richest female artist in the world? According to a recent forbes publication, she is. She is the richest female artist in the world and it is squarely because of Bernard Arnault, the owner of Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (if you believe Forbes). The deal he struck with Rihanna back in 2017 to launch a line of beauty products and cosmetics has made the Barbados multi-talented personality a huge financial success – the hugest among all of her current contemporaries.
But we think Forbes is at least partly wrong. Rihanna is one of the richest female artists in the world because she is a smart cookie with really great timing, good instincts and a built in tribe and fan base that worships the ground she creates on. She also knows a damn good deal when she sees it. And she has seen many good deals in her short career so far including collaborations with brands like Armani, Chopard, Puma, Manolo Blahnik, MAC cosmetics,Parlux Fragrances and River Island.
Not everybody has that kind of talent and intelligence to pull off all these different types of deals.
To be clear, Riri’s Fenty Beauty partnership with Louis Vuitton is far from 50/50 as far as we can tell. According a Forbes article on the subject, Rihanna owns something like 15 percent and Arnault/LVMH owns about 50 perscent and the other 35 percent is owned by god knows who. Your first instinct might be to go whaaaat? Fifteen percent?! What a rip off! But stop for a moment and think about that. How much does tabulate to? How much is 15 percent of 500 million, for example? What amount is that in hard cold cash?
For sure, her bank account is impressed with this deal as it swells and swells and swells some more. According to the Forbes publication:
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 that LVMH owns an estimated 50% of it,
while Rihanna has about 15%, a figure a spokesperson for the artist disputed but
wouldn’t clarify further.
That is nearly $9,000,000! In just 15 months for god only knows how many hours of hard labor (it couldn’t have been exactly sweat shop labor) the songstress had to personally put in. It’s a nice piece of change no matter how you look at it. But that is hardly the point. The point is that she is the richest songstress because of her brilliant business instincts, not because of LVMH. It could have been any other partner and the same thing would have happened.
Or would it? When you consider the fact that Kyle Jenner started her company roughly around the same time as Rihanna and what Coty paid Kyle in 2019, you have to wonder because if the news release in the press was accurate, Coty paid Kyle something like $600,000, 000.00 and the reality tv diva retained 50 percent in her company. Versus Rihanna who was paid about $10 million in cash according to a WIKI article and then LMVH retained 50 percent stake while giving Riri 15 percent. It does sound a little bit meager even with the breakdown in hard cold cash being what it is.
But. OK. Let’s not be greedy. Even with such a small slice of the pie, this deal has reportedly made Rihanna a very rich woman, putting her ahead of the likes of Madonna, Celine Dion and Beyoncé as the world’s richest female entertainer. No, she is not as rich as Kyle but she is pretty darn rich notwithstanding.
And let’s be crystal clear: Fenty Beauty is a cool brand. Why? Because it was the first beauty brand to have created 40 or more shades in its cosmetics line to accommodate the different skin tones of all of Earth’s women – as opposed to the 6 or so shades that traditionally have been offered by manufacturers. Fenty Beauty is so cool in fact, it is now setting the bar and the standard for all other cosmetics companies who hope to avoid finding themselves rendered obsolete in the new world order in the cosmetics and beauty universes. And really, it is about time that fashion became more inclusive.
And it is not just a question of skin tone that makes Fenty Beauty so cool. Rihanna is also geo-locationally sensitive and plugged in. She aggressively courts, and enjoys marked success in, non-traditional markets such as in the Middle East (like Saudi Arabia where the musical icon is quite famous). She understands that the world just got a lot bigger the minute it got a lot smaller and she seems intent on making everybody feel like they are a part of the experience.
Big kudos to Fenty for that.
And if you want to know the truth, Bernard Arnault is a serious businessman and if he wanted to do a deal with Rihanna, then he obviously saw something in her other than her amazing voice.
Could it have been the 71 million Instagram followers and die-hard fans? Maybe. But it could also be that he recognizes the island girl’s natural smarts.
Early in 2019 he announced that he and Rihanna were expanding their partnership to establish a fashion house in Paris under the LVMH brand. With this deal, Rihanna has full carte blanche as director of the luxury maison to develop and create shoes, accessories, jewelry and clothing under a Rihanna lifestyle brand. This was a watershed moment in fashion insofar as Rihanna, being the first black woman to be at the helm of a fashion house – especially a French one – and to have been given total creative and artistic freedom the way that she was.
All eyes are on her to see what she does with this brand and opportunity but so far so good for Rihanna and her Fenty Brand.