If you’re not familiar with Jay-Z, this is what you need to know: at 51 years-old, he has 22 Grammy awards, is one of raps only billionaire businessmen and is seen as a mentor and supporter of new musical talent, including the late Nipsey Hussle.
And he just happens to be married to one of the most influential musicians of all time, Beyoncé.
All of which is impressive. But, the New-York native has made headlines recently not for his musical talent, or his personal life, but for his skill in business; Jay-Z has just sold 50% of his shares in champagne brand Armand de Brignac – known colloquially as ‘Ace of Spades’ – for a rumoured $300 million.
The champagne brand, which Jay-Z bought 100% shares in in 2014 and retails for $300 a bottle, was bought by LVMH’s Moët Hennessy in February.
The deal was designed to take “the business to new heights across the world,” according to Moet’s CEO Philippe Schaus. “In your understanding of the world of tomorrow,” Schaus said, addressing Jay-Z, “we believe you created a new consumer for Champagne.”
Jay-Z had previously rapped on Meek Mill’s 2018 song What’s Free that the company was worth half a billion dollars – making it the rapper’s most significant asset.
“I’m 50% of D’usse and it’s debt free / 100% of Ace of Spades, worth half a B /Roc Nation, half of that, that’s my piece / Hunnid percent of Tidal to bust it up with my G’s”
It seems that estimate was a wild undervaluing, with LVMH having valued the brand at $600 million – of which Jay-Z will pocket $300 million.
Forbes had valued the brand at $630 million, but with the exact details of the sale under wraps, what is clear that Jay-Z has just added a sizeable amount to his already seismic $1 billion personal fortune (combined with the wealth of his wife, Beyoncé, the fortune stands at an estimated $1.35 billion).
How, then, did he get here? And who else has come close?
“If you can’t buy the building at least stock the shelf / Then keep on stackin’ ’til you stockin’ for yourself” Jay-Z rapped on Pharrell’s 2020 song about Black excellence and business savvy, Entrepreneur.
The lyrics are testament to the work ethic that saw Jay-Z escape a life of drug dealing in Brooklyn’s tough Marcy projects to go on to headline Manhattan’s Madison Square.
Born Shawn Corey Carter on December 1969 (the day, incidentally, that Black Panther’s Chicago chairman Fred Hampton was assassinated), Jay-Z’s well-documented early years involved selling crack cocaine, shooting his cousin in the shoulder for stealing his jewellery, and being shot three times himself.
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