Rihanna the Retail Billionaire Joins Growing List of Industry’s Celebrity Money Makers


As if singer, actress, model, entrepreneur and expectant mother weren’t enough already, the 34-year-old powerhouse from Barbados has now officially added a sixth title to her growing list of superlatives: billionaire. 

If you haven’t heard by now, the fashion mogul (make that seventh descriptive title) is the most talked-about new addition to Forbes’ annual ranking of the world’s wealthiest people, with an estimated net worth of $1.7 billion landing her at #1729 on the overall list.

However, within the fashion and retail category, it appears that $1.7 billion isn’t what it used to be, as that not insubstantial sum puts Rihanna at least 150 spots below the retail segment’s current wealth leaders, specifically LVMH boss Bernard Arnault at $158 billion; L’Oréal heiress Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, the granddaughter of the founder (and also the world’s wealthiest woman) at $75 billion; and Walmart descendants Jim, Alice and Rob Walton at about $65 billion each.

Retail’s Strong Showing

What is also notable is that 18 of the top 100 placeholders in the overall list this year derived their wealth from the retail industry, including Amancio Ortega of Spanish fast fashion brand Zara ($59 billion), Nike founder Phil Knight ($47 billion) and Germany’s Dieter Schwarz of Schwarz Group ($47 billion).

While the U.S. and Europe are amply represented in the retail category, especially in luxury goods, cosmetics and groceries, Uniqlo’s Tadashi Yanai is the top Asia-based billionaire in the retail category, with a $27 billion net worth. 

Meanwhile Luciano Hang ($4.9 billion), the founder of Brazilian department store chain Havan, is the top South American on the retail list, while South African Johann Rupert ($8.9 billion), chairman of Richemont, is that continent’s wealthiest individual, although the luxury good company is based in Switzerland.

Rihanna & Co

With that in mind, and the fact that she is still quite young and about to give birth to her first heir, Rihanna’s upside potential in the list of retail money makers is seemingly limitless. Rihanna, whose full name is Robyn Fenty, is also shoring up her efforts for next year’s list, as she is set to use the momentum of her existing Fenty brand of beauty and cosmetics as she scales up her Savage X Fenty lingerie business and mulls a possible IPO.  A move to the public markets is no guarantee of success and depending on how the stock is priced and received, could dramatically help or hinder her status as a billionaire.

Besides Rihanna, there are a number of noteworthy position changes and occupants within the retail and fashion industry’s cluster of celebrities who also double as entrepreneurs.  

Kanye West, for example, is reported to be worth $2 billion thanks in part to his Yeezy designer deals with Gap and Adidas, up from about $1.8 billion a year ago.

At the same time, 41-year-old Kim Kardashian returned to the billionaire’s list, as her own cosmetics and reality TV businesses nearly doubled over the past year, lifting her estimated net worth to $1.8 billion.