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How Billionaire Rihanna Once Sued Her Ex-Accountants For $9M After Mismanaging Funds

Photo Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris

 

Picture it, the year is 2007, and from speakers all across the nation, you could hear the melodic echo of, “You can stand under my umbrella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh.” From dirty whining to fans singing at the top of their lungs, Rihanna had music listeners in a proverbial chokehold with her chart-topping hit.

 

 

This phenomenon would prove consistent as the Barbadian artist continued to make Billboard hits for almost every occasion. Want to set the straight record straight about who you really are? Consider playing “Needed Me.” In a particular mood to be in the streets? “Rude Boy” may be your song of choice. And if you need to get what you’re owed, there’s little doubt that “B-tch Better Have My Money” is your anthem.

No matter where you land, there is not a lot of space to deny Rihanna’s impact on music. However, the 34-year-old artist didn’t limit herself to music. Born Robyn Fenty, the musician got deep into her cosmetic and lingerie bag with her brands Fenty Beauty and Savage x Fenty. Her business ventures and her musical prowess led her to billionaire status in 2021.

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According to Celebrity Net Worth, Rihanna has a net worth of $1.7 billion.

Although the new mother is living proof that hard work and dedication can pay off, there was a time when Rihanna stood despair in the face. According to a now-settled lawsuit, Rihanna allegedly lost $9 million from poor decisions by her former accountants.

But how did this happen?

The Tour That Led To A Fall

Based on a report from The Daily News, 2009 court documents revealed that Rihanna had an estimated $11 million in cash at the top of that year, but by the time it ended, she was only left with $2 million.

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Rihanna stated that her former accountants of Berdon LLP suggested that she purchase a new home in Beverly Hills. At the time of purchase, it cost $7.5 million.

“Mr. Gounis advised Ms. Fenty that she could afford to purchase [the home] at a time when Ms. Fenty was in financial dismay,” her court documents say.

“In 2009, Ms. Fenty was ‘running out of cash’ and Mr. Gounis knew this,” the outlet previously reported. “Ms. Fenty’s accounts were so diminished that requested wire transfers would not go through. In fact, Ms. Fenty was effectively bankrupt at the end of 2009.”

Lavish recommendations like the expensive home purchase, an accusation of poor bookkeeping, a lack of suggestions of how she should lower expenses, and a financially plummeting 2009 tour all led to a 2012 lawsuit against her accountants in Manhattan Federal Court.

According to court documents, Rihanna learned that her former accountants had mismanaged her funds, including but not limited to her 2009 Last Girl on Earth tour, which was netting losses. The lawsuit suggested that the accountants charged excessive commissions and took nearly 23 percent of revenue while Rihanna only received six percent.

“Defendants earned millions of dollars in commissions on tour gross receipts from Tourihanna’s revenues in an amount equaling nearly twenty-three percent (23%) of total tour income. Fenty’s total income from touring during this period, on the other hand, paled in comparison, constituting only six percent (6%) of total tour income,” the documents read.

She Told Y’all To Have Her Money

While things looked grim at the time for the singer, her legal team gathered proof of the firm’s poor bookkeeping. According to Rolling Stone, the lawsuit states that her 2011 tour, Loud, produced a net profit equal to more than 40 percent of total revenue.

Even with this as a point of reference, Rihanna’s former accountants’ lawyers argued that the allegations were false.

“These allegations are false,” Thomas Manisero, a lawyer for Berdon LLP, told The Daily News. “Berdon acted properly concerning Ms. Fenty’s affairs.”

Despite the back and forth and nasty litigation, Rihanna came out on top with a more than $10 million settlement. Since then, the former accountants were obviously fired, and she is on top of her game.

Rising Like A Phoenix

A part of her recouping process was the continued success of her music and associated tours. In addition to Fenty Beauty and Savage x Fenty, Rihanna has learned the power of diversification. In 2018, Insider reported Rihanna had partnerships with high-profile brands like Balmain, Armani, Mac, and River Island.

Now, the new mom is enjoying the fruits of her labor with a long break from music, managing her business ventures, and serving as the first Black woman to partner with luxury conglomerate LVMH.

-AfroTech

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