This Is Why Kanye Is $53 Million In Debt

Kanye West’s recent revelation that he’s in $53 million of debt has caused something of a stir. The announcement, which came as part of the Twitter-pocalypse that is The Life of Pablo’s release cycle, has included pleas with Mark Zuckerberg, calls for positive thought, and a whole bunch of headscratching. How did Kanye accrue $53 million in debt?

Celebrity prayers aside, there are a lot of theories floating around. Most prominent is that Kanye’s all-Balmain-all-the-time approach to dressing Saint and North might be causing the financial difficulties. An investigation by i-D reveals that the rapper, producer, and designer is in debt not from flossing but from following his fashion dreams.

Before you ask, Kim and Kanye keep their finances separate. So although Kim’s worth is around Kanye’s debt, she presumably has a financial manager keeping her assets hers.

Kanye’s first footwear line came with Nike in 2008, the Air Yeezy, for $215. A collector offered $98,000 for an autographed pair of the Air Yeezy 2s, so the line could be called at least somewhat of a success.

And it’s not as though his albums have been at all unsuccessful. His Yeezus tour reportedly cleared $1 million a show, and Forbes estimates that he’s made $72 million (before taxes) over the last three years. But fashion is a rich man’s game.

He abandoned two ventures between 2009 and 2011. First Pastelle in 2009 and then a followup women’s wear line two years later, Vanity Fair writes. His collection with A.P.C seemed to be less financially stressful, but he then put $30 million of his own money into making his dreams a reality.

That collection went ok — well enough that I saw him at an A.P.C party a few years later in Los Angeles — but things really seemed on the right track when he partnered with Adidas. That team up included creative control and a commensurate measure of the profits. That is the Yeezy Season collection that we all know and love, but again Kanye couldn’t help but drop in $16 million on the first season alone. Though the results seem mixed-to-positive, the degree of control he exerts means that he needs more than just Austin Swift to buy a pair of Boosts, even if just to drop them in the trash.

Kanye has always been an economically minded artist. His efforts on The College Dropout are tales of people struggling against a system designed to keep young black people down. Whether it’s a woman naming her daughter Alexis because she can’t afford a car, or a song’s narrator being pushed to the front of the GAP to sell merch to black people, or “spending everything on Alexander Wang,” Kanye is well-acquainted with the financial realities of fashion. While he may be down now, we wouldn’t count on someone with his work ethic and vision to stay down long. Now if only he could stay off Twitter.

If, for some reason, you want to help, you can donate and add to the $6,800 of an asked-for $53 million on this GoFundMe.

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