Is Dr. Dre The World's First Billionaire Rapper?

By on May 28, 2014 in ArticlesCelebrity News

As you may have heard, earlier today Apple Inc is officially confirmed that it will be buying Beats By Dre for a mind-numbing $3 billion dollars ($2.6 billion in cash, $400 million in stock). That's large enough to make this the largest acquisition Apple has ever made during its entire 30+ years as a corporation. After the rumors of the deal leaked a few weeks back, Celebrity Net Worth was bombarded with an absolutely insane amount of traffic from people trying to read up on Dre and Beats. The traffic was so massive and so sudden that our servers completely zonked out for more than 24 hours. It was very stressful. But now that the dust has settled and our servers are back to normal, it's time to answer a very important question: Is Dr. Dre the world's first billionaire rapper??!!

Dr. Dre

Is Dr. Dre a Billionaire? / Elsa/Getty Images

A little background on Beats By Dre:

Beats Electronics, LLC was founded in Santa Monica, California (10 blocks from where I am writing this article) in 2008 by super producer Dr. Dre and Interscope Records chairman Jimmy Iovine. Their goal was to manufacture high quality headphones and consumer electronic accessories that could also be considered a fashion accessory. A set of Beats ear buds retailed for $120 and the full "over the ear" set cost $600. Initially, the company granted Monster Cable a five year exclusive manufacturing deal which allowed Dre and Jimmy to focus their efforts entirely on promoting the brand through celebrity endorsements and product placement. Dre debuted the headphones in a series of nationwide Dr. Pepper commercials and has been rarely seen in public without a pair since 2008. Jimmy Iovine could also be seen wearing a pair around his neck during his appearances as an American Idol coach and judge. The strategy worked and Beats By Dre quickly captured roughly 25% of the worldwide headphone market. In addition to headphones, today the company also has a streaming music service called Beats Radio and a division the produces car speakers for several Chrysler-owned car brands. In 2011 the company sold over 1.5 million units and generated revenues of $500 million. In 2012, revenues topped $1 billion. In 2013, revenues topped $1.5 billion.

In August 2011, Dre and Jimmy sold 50% of their Beats to Taiwanese electronics company HTC for $309 million. In a strange move, HTC sold 25% of its stake back to Dre and Jimmy for $150 million almost exactly one year later. In September 2013, the private equity firm Carlyle Group purchased HTC's remaining 25% stake. Carlyle also purchased another 25% stake which again left Jimmy and Dre with 25% each. The Carlyle investment valued the company at $2 billion which meant Dre and Jimmy's stakes were worth $500 million each.

Apple Buys Beats By Dre:

As we mentioned above, on May 28th, Apple finally confirmed rumors that it will be acquiring Beats By Dre for $3 billion. At that price, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine's 25% stakes would be worth $750 million a piece before taxes.

Is Dr. Dre A Billionaire?

Two months before the Apple deal was reported, we released our annual list of the richest rappers in the world. At the time, we calculated Dr. Dre's net worth to be $550 million. With a net worth of $500 million, Dre was the third richest rapper on the planet, behind Jay-Z at $560 and Diddy at $700 million. Here's how we came up with $500 million two months ago:

Of that $500 million, $200 million was Dre's non-beats money. If Dre had never created Beats, he would still have a $200 million fortune thanks to 30 years of selling music, producing, merchandise and touring. The other $300 million was the estimated value of Dre's Beats stake at the time. How'd we come up with $300 million? Simple. As we mentioned a few paragraphs ago, five months earlier, the Carlyle group made an investment in Beats that valued the company as a whole at $2 billion. Dre owned 25% of Beats. 25% of $2 billion is $500 million. $500 million after taxes is roughly $350 million $350 million plus $200 million = $550 million.

Fast forward to May 2014 and Apple purchases Beats for $3 billion. Dre's 25% stake is now officially sold for $750 million. The investment should qualify for long term capital gains treatment which will bring his Federal tax rate down from 40% to 20%. As a resident of California, Dre will pay 13.3% state taxes for a grand total tax burden of 33.3%. That means Dre will pay roughly $247.5 million in taxes off this deal, leaving him $502.5 million. $502.5 million from the Beats sale + Dre's other $200 million fortune = $702.5 million. To be safe, we can probably just round it up to $750 million.

Dr. Dre p diddy

$1.4 Billion In One Photo / Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The Answer:

No matter how you look at the numbers, the fact is that Dr. Dre is still not a billionaire right now. $750 million is still very impressive though! And the good news is, Dre absolutely leapfrogged Jay-Z and Diddy to become the undisputed richest rapper on the planet.

Jimmy Iovine is now worth $970 million. Just $30 million shy of the big B.

Regardless of where Dre's final net worth number lands, he definitely deserves a standing ovation. Dre somehow managed to make 50 Cent's Vitamin Water deal look puny. He also probably infuriated Diddy which should be interesting to watch over the next year.

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