Rihanna, the singer of hits such as Umbrella and We Found Love, is officially a billionaire and the world’s richest female musician.
However, most of her fortune, estimated on Wednesday by Forbes magazine to be $1.7bn (£1.2bn), does not come from chart-topping singles, but from the success of her cosmetics empire.
Rihanna – real name Robyn Fenty – launched Fenty Beauty in 2017 with a dream to create a cosmetics company that made “women everywhere [feel] included”.
The singer, who has described makeup as her “weapon of choice for self-expression” while growing up, said she was driven to create her own range because established brands did not provide a full choice of products for all varieties of skin types and tones. The brand boasted foundation in 40 different shades when it first launched to “make skin look like skin” and has since expanded to 50.
Rihanna, 33, launched the beauty brand, of which she owns 50%, with the French luxury conglomerate LVMH in 2017. In its first year, Fenty Beauty achieved sales of $550m, far more than other celebrity-endorsed makeup ranges. Forbes magazine estimates that the company is now worth “a conservative $2.8bn”.
Her stake in in the company, combined with a 30% stake in the lingerie line Savage X Fenty and money generated during her 16-year career as a recording artist, take Rihanna’s fortune to $1.7bn, according to Forbes. That makes her the second wealthiest female entertainer on the planet after Oprah Winfrey, who is sitting on a fortune estimated at $2.7bn.
Bernard Arnault, LVMH’s chairman and chief executive, and the world’s third-richest person with an estimated $179bn fortune, has said: “Everyone knows Rihanna as a wonderful singer, but through our partnership at Fenty Beauty, I discovered a true entrepreneur, a real CEO and a terrific leader.”
Commenting on Rihanna’s success, Shannon Coyne, the co-founder of the consumer products consultancy Bluestock Advisors, said: “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. [Fenty Beauty] was one of the first brands that came out and said: ‘I want to speak to all of those different people.’”
Rihanna is not the first celebrity to make a fortune from cosmetics. Kylie Jenner, the youngest member of the Kardashian-Jenner American reality-TV family, became the world’s youngest billionaire in 2019 at the age of 21 thanks to the success of Kylie Cosmetics, the makeup company she runs largely from her iPhone. Her sister, Kim Kardashian West, also has a cosmetics business, KKW Beauty, while the actor Jessica Alba runs the beauty and wellness brand Honest Co.