Kanye West no longer a billionaire after Adidas cuts ties

Entertainment

Kanye West has fallen off the list of the world’s richest billionaires compiled by Forbes – after Adidas cut ties with him over antisemitic comments he made on social media.

The artist, who legally changed his name to Ye and was ranked number 1,513 on Forbes’ rich list earlier this year, had a multi-year deal to design his trainer brand Yeezy for the German sportswear company.

However, Adidas announced on Tuesday that it would end production of Yeezy branded products and stop all payments to him and his companies with “immediate effect” due to “unacceptable, hateful and dangerous” hate speech from the artist.

And Madame Tussauds on Wednesday became the latest organisation to distance itself from the rapper, removing its wax figure of the star from public view.

West’s lucrative contract with Adidas accounted for $1.5bn (£1.3bn) of his net worth, according to Forbes.

“With that gone, Ye is no longer a billionaire,” said the American business magazine.

“It caps a stunning, self-induced downfall for one of the brashest and most volatile personalities to have graced Forbes’ pages.”

More on Kanye West

Forbes estimates West’s current net worth to be around $400m (£346m) – down from $2bn (£1.7bn).

“Losing Adidas was the final nail in Ye’s net-worth coffin”, said Forbes, adding: “Now the road has ended.”

Spotify joins the condemnation bandwagon

Spotify has also openly criticised West’s remarks – but the music streaming platform will not take action against him.

Company chief executive Daniel Ek said the artist’s remarks were “just awful comments”, which would have warranted West’s removal from Spotify for violating its anti-hate policies if they had been said on a podcast or recording.

Since the comments were made on social media, Spotify would only remove the rapper’s music if his label requested it, the company said.

Kanye West antisemitism controversy: What rapper said and how people have reacted

Earlier this month, Ye tweeted to say he was “going death con 3 ON JEWISH PEOPLE” before alleging he was not “Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew also”.

Since then, West has seen his Instagram and Twitter accounts restricted, an end to his banking relationship with JP Morgan, the termination of his collaboration with Balenciaga fashion house, and a completed documentary about him shelved – and the list of corporations condemning his words continues to grow.

Kim Kardashian. Pic: AP
Image:
Kim Kardashian. Pic: AP

In an indirect tweet to her ex-husband on Monday, Kim Kardashian wrote: “Hate speech is never OK or excusable. I stand together with the Jewish community and call on the terrible violence and hateful rhetoric towards them to come to an immediate end”.

And on Wednesday, Madame Tussauds confirmed its model of the rapper had been moved to an archive.

“Each profile earns their place at Madame Tussauds London and we listen to our guests and the public on who they expect to see at the attraction,” a spokesperson said.

The figurine was originally launched in the museum in 2015, alongside a waxwork of Kardashian.

Antonio Brown stands with West

Despite the backlash, American footballer Antonio Brown, president of West’s brand management agency Donda Sports, has released a statement on Twitter declaring his “support” for the rapper, who he considers his “brother”, and frowning upon the organisations cutting ties with the artist.

“Over the past few weeks the world’s reactionary and selective outrage at comments in the media made by my brother, Ye, have inflamed and sparked rampant conversation and reflection.

“I too have been able to reflect on statements that I and others in my circle have made that lack clarity in expressing my stance.

“The people and brands that have relentlessly profited from Black ideas and Black culture chose to distance themselves at a very specific time: a time that demonstrated their prioritization of certain groups over others.

“None of us in this world are free of judgment, yet we live in a time where scrutiny and pessimism have driven our dialogues on cultural issues toward diatribes”.

Brown added that he stands by his “dedication to freedom of speech, thought and opinion” and that diversity in thought “pushes humanity forward”.

However, he said: “Let me be clear, discrimination of any kind is an injustice to all people, which is exactly why I wish to issue this statement”.

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Brown said he would remain as president of Donda Sports and ended his statement saying: “I remain in support of the humanity that is Ye”.

Sky News has contacted West’s representatives for comment.

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