Rihanna has made her debut appearance on The Sunday Times Rich List, with an estimated fortune of £468 million.
The Bajan pop star, who now resides in London, overtakes Sirs Elton John and Mick Jagger to claim third place on the list of Britain’s richest musicians.
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Paul McCartney are joint first on the list, with fortunes of £800m apiece.
Rihanna’s earnings are largely due to the Fenty Beauty cosmetics brand, where her reported 15% stake is worth £351m.
“She somewhat caught us by surprise,” says Robert Watts, who compiles The Sunday Times’ annual list.
“Very few people knew she was living in the UK until last summer. Now she’s well placed to be the first musician to reach billionaire status in the UK,” he tells the BBC.
Rihanna, who turned 32 in February, is a youthful exception amongst Britain’s richest musicians, most of whom found fame in the 1960s and 70s.
Amongst the top 40 highest-earners, only Ed Sheeran and Adele are younger, with fortunes of £200m and £150m respectively.
Further down the list, there are new entries for the next generation of pop stars, with Dua Lipa, 24, and George Ezra, 26, each said to be worth £16m.
Richest Musicians in Britain
Theatre impresario Lord Lloyd-Webber, 72, is the only star on the list to see his valuation fall, with Watts calculating that the Covid-19 shutdown of theatres in the West End and Broadway has already wiped £20m off his fortune.
Sir Paul, by contrast, receives a £50m boost to his finances, thanks to a lucrative world tour and his first children’s book Hey Grandude!, which topped the New York Times’ best-seller list last year.
Sir Elton’s farewell tour also added £40m to his fortune, putting him in fourth place; while Rolling Stone Sir Mick comes fifth with £285m.
Ed Sheeran topped the young musicians (aged 30 or under) list, adding £40m to his overall wealth after completing a 255-date world tour last August. Harry Styles took second place, with a fortune of £63m.
Eagle-eyed readers might spot that U2 have dropped off the Sunday Times’ rankings entirely, despite taking third place last year with earnings of £583m.
Their absence is solely due to coronavirus – as the pandemic has delayed the publication of the paper’s Irish Rich List. When those figures are revealed later this year, the band is likely to knock Rihanna down to fourth place.
Nonetheless, Watts says that Rihanna’s presence is indicative of a “seismic change” in the make-up of the main Rich List which, since 1989, had been identifying the 1,000 wealthiest individuals or families living in the UK.
“The days when it was dominated by inherited wealth, the landed gentry and mass of largely white, middle-aged and elderly men, are changing,” says Watts.
“For example, we’ve seen a big rise in the number of Asian entrepreneurs and in the number of self-made people.
“Rihanna is, I think, a very good example of someone who’s come from a pretty tough upbringing in Barbados and who has a hunger and a determination to work, work work… which, I think, is one of her songs, isn’t it?” (It is).
Although Rihanna made her name in music, she hasn’t released an album since 2016’s Anti, instead concentrating on her fashion empire.
Fenty Beauty launched in September 2017, and was designed to cater to a wider range of skin types and tones than typical cosmetic brands.
Thanks to the star’s endorsement, and her 82 million Instagram followers, it was an immediate success, racking up sales of £78m in its first few weeks. The company is now valued at $3bn (£2.4bn).
Rihanna also has a lingerie line, Savage X Fenty, and continues to receive royalties from hit songs like SOS, Umbrella and Only Girl In The World.
Her £468m fortune makes her the richest female musician not just in the UK, but the world – ahead of Madonna (£462m), Celine Dion (£365m) and Beyoncé (£325m).
Richest musicians under 30
Watts notes that musicians’ wealth “held up better than many other ultra-high net worth individuals” over the last 12 months, but says the impact of cancelled tours could impact next year’s list.
“Their fortunes have held up a little better this year because they’re coming off the back of big tours and their valuation is not affected by a plunging stock market,” he says.
“But next year I would expect, for a lot of these musicians, their wealth to flatline – and some of them may even have to dip into their reserves.”
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