After leaving home at just 16, Rihanna is now officially a billionaire after launching two mega-successful businesses on top of her chart-topping hits.
Superstar Rihanna is officially in the billionaires club after Forbes reported she is now worth $1.7 billion USD – largely due to her popular cosmetics line Fenty. The singer is also the world’s second wealthiest entertainer after Oprah Winfrey.
At the age of just 33, Rihanna is worth a massive $A2.2 billion and is now the wealthiest woman in music and the second richest woman in entertainment, behind only Oprah Winfrey.
Rihanna is now a billionaire – and the richest woman in pop music. Picture: Getty Images
It’s a far cry from the girl who grew up in a modest home in Barbados, and used music as a way of escaping her violent dad’s battle with drug and alcohol addictions.
But, despite her initial success as a pop star, her massive wealth isn’t due to her music.
Since launching her Fenty beauty brand in 2017, Rihanna has been working hard on making it into the $A1.8 billion empire it’s become.
In fact, she’s said it’s part of “the reason why an album isn’t being spat out like it used to”.
So just how has Rihanna become so rich? We take a closer look inside her earnings.
Rihanna’s dad Ronald Fenty battled with alcohol and drug addictions. Picture: Getty Images
Rihanna – whose real name is Robyn Fenty – was brought up in Barbados, but had a difficult childhood, as her dad battled with alcohol and drug addictions.
She told Rolling Stone how he would beat her mother, and even hit her once too.
Rihanna would try and get between her parents to break up a fight, and once tried to distract them by breaking a glass bottle
“Domestic violence is not something that people want anybody to know, so she would just hide it in the house,” she said.
Rihanna’s parents eventually divorced when she was 14 years old, and she took over as her younger brother’s carer while her mum worked full-time.
“I grew up fast, kind of like the second mum,” Rihanna told the Guardian.
In 2013, the singer quietly put her dad Ronald through a $58,000 Malibu rehab program.
Today, their relationship is strong, and she’s still taking care of her father.
‘Always wanted to be a pop star’
Rihanna always wanted to be a pop star. Picture: Getty Images
Rihanna has explained she used music as an escape, and “she always knew she wanted to be a pop star”.
In 2003, she formed a musical trio with two of her classmates, and got the chance to audition for record producer Evan Rogers, who was on holiday in Barbados with his wife.
Evan immediately loved her, and later told Entertainment Weekly that “the minute Rihanna walked into the room, it was like the other two girls didn’t exist.”
Over the course of the next year, Rihanna travelled to Evan’s home in Connecticut to work on her demo album.
With the help of songwriter Carl Sturken she made a four-song demo that included Pon de Replay, which would become her first hit single.
‘I left Barbados and didn’t look back’
Jay-Z signed Rihanna the day he heard her sing, and made her a star. Picture: Getty Images
Rihanna officially relocated to the States when she was 16.
“When I left Barbados, I didn’t look back,” she said. “I wanted to do what I had to do, even if it meant moving to America.”
Soon after, her demo fell into the hands of recording company Def Jam.
She auditioned for them and legendary rapper Jay-Z, who was so impressed he signed her “that same day”.
Eight months later Rihanna released her debut album, Music of the Sun, which went platinum.
Breaking chart records
She sexed it up when she released Good Girl Gone Bad. Picture: Getty Images
Her follow-up album, A Girl Like Me, was released in 2006, but it wasn’t until her third album, Good Girl Gone Bad, came out in 2007 that things really started looking up.
It featured the hit single Umbrella, which managed to stay at the top of the UK singles chart for 10 consecutive weeks, the longest run at number one for any single of that decade.
It’s also listed in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and won her first Grammy Award.
She has since gone on to win countless awards, and worked with legends including Kanye West and Calvin Harris.
She is now the second biggest-selling female artist of all time only to Madonna, having shifted 250 million records, and seven of her eight studio albums have been in the top 10 in the UK.
But, since she released Anti in 2016, Rihanna has been focusing on her business rather than her music.
$3.7b beauty brand
Rihanna launched her cosmetics brand, Fenty Beauty, back in 2017, alongside luxury goods giant LVMH, who owns 50 per cent of the business.
With its aim of appealing to “every type of woman” and the release of 40 different foundation shades, Riri’s business quickly took off.
It racked up sales totalling to over AU$13 million in the first two weeks, and, in less than four years, Rihanna’s makeup brand has turned into a billion dollar business.
After their first calendar year, the line “was bringing in more than AU$744 million in annual revenues,” Forbes revealed.
It beat Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics, Kim Kardashian West’s KKW Beauty and Jessica Alba’s Honest Company.
The co-founder of Bluestock Advisors, Shannon Coyne explained: “A lot of women felt there were no lines out there that catered to their skin tone. It was light, medium, medium-dark, dark.
“We all know that’s not reality. She was one of the first brands that came out and said ‘I want to speak to all of those different people.’”
Last year, she launched Fenty Skin – which is sure to earn her even more money.
And Forbes estimated that Fenty Beauty as a whole is worth a whopping AU$3.7 billion and will likely continue to grow as LMVH said it has “maintained its appeal as a premier makeup brand.”
$363m lingerie brand
Savage x Fenty is worth $363m, thanks to Rihanna and its inclusive models. Picture: Getty Images
A year after making her mark on the beauty industry, Rihanna launched her lingerie company, Savage x Fenty.
The underwear models were noticeably different from other brands like Victoria’s Secret, as there were women of all shapes, sizes and races – and included pregnant women.
And the lingerie brand even produces its own runway show, streamed on Amazon, with artists like Lizzo performing.
Talking about the brand’s first runway show in 2018, Rihanna said: “I wanted to include every woman. I wanted every woman on the stage with different energies, different races, body types, different stages in their womanhood, culture.
“I wanted women to feel celebrated and that we started this s**t. We own this. This is our land because really it is.
“Women are running the world right now and it’s too bad for men.”
Due to Rihanna’s backing, as well as the brand’s inclusive models, it has become a huge success and is now worth $A363 million.
Makeup over music
Due to the success of her businesses, Rihanna has turned her attention from her music – of which the rest of her fortune comes from.
“I used to be in the studio, only the studio, for three months straight, and an album would come out,” she said. “Now, it’s like a carousel.
“I do fashion one day, lingerie the next, beauty the next, then music the next. It’s like having a bunch of kids, and you need to take care of them all.”
Fans have been desperate for new music, but Rihanna is keeping schtum on when we can expect it.
“I can’t say when I’m going to drop,” she told Vogue in 2020 of potentially releasing her ninth studio album in the future. “But I am very aggressively working on music.”
And we can be sure that her pot of cash will get even bigger whenever she brings it out.