R. Kelly‘s money woes were seemingly worsening by the day, a fact that was hammered home in part by how he remained behind bars Friday for the third straight day because of his inability to pay the more than $160,000 he owes in past child support. The disgraced singer, who at the top of his career should have been worth more than $100 million, now has a steadily shrinking net worth that was just a small fraction of what it was just weeks ago before his latest arrest for sexual abuse charges.
With that said, Kelly still apparently has a reliable revenue stream even though he has all but stopped performing at concerts, which at one point was able to generate as much as $150,000 per show.
Questions about Kelly’s finance have lingered for years, but they became more pronounced in early January after Lifetime aired “Surviving R. Kelly,” a docuseries that featured a number of women who accused him of a variety of sex crimes. The docuseries prompted a larger investigation into the singer’s long-rumored pedophilia and resulted in his eviction from an infamous recording studio for owing nearly $167,000 in rent.
But when he was apparently unable to pay his own bond of $100,000 after being arrested on Feb. 22, it became clear that he had money problems. It eventually took an obsessed fan and “friend” who Kelly barely knew to bail him out.
At the time of that arrest, most websites that report on celebrities’ wealth has Kelly’s net worth at about $1 million — a far cry from what he had been worth in the 90s and aughts, but still nothing to sneeze at. However, as of Friday afternoon, the Celebrity Net Worth website had Kelly listed at just $100,000.
Kelly said this week during his controversial interview with Gayle King that he only had $350,000 in his bank account and that he had recently transferred it to another bank, which was preventing him from paying the child support he owed. Because he said the funds hadn’t cleared with the new bank yet, Kelly was taken back into custody on that charge Wednesday, the second time in as many weeks he had been arrested.
“So many people have been stealing my money,” Kelly told King in part.
But the consistent presence of defense lawyer fees since the 90s have no doubt dug into Kelly’s finances. Aside from that, the Associated Press on Thursday documented several reasons for Kelly appearing to be broke.
In 2014, Kelly had to pay his former business manager more than $1 million in a civil judgment, the AP reported. In addition, “[f]inancial records show at least six federal tax liens totaling about $8 million were filed between 2009 and 2012,” the AP wrote. “The records also show a federal tax payment of more than $2.6 million in 2008.” To make matters worse for him, a “state of Illinois tax lien of about $24,000 was filed in 2002 against Kelly and now-ex-wife Andrea Kelly.”
“A complaint filed in 1997 by a Chicago woman named Tiffany Hawkins alleged sexual battery and sexual harassment while she was a minor,” the AP reported. “It was reportedly settled for $250,000.”
Kelly also reportedly settled another case in 2002 with a woman named Tracy Sampson who said she and the singer had illegal sex because she was underage at the time.
To top it all off, the AP wrote, “[i]n 2013, Kelly’s custom-built suburban Chicago mansion, once valued at more than $5 million, sold for $950,000 in a foreclosure auction. Kelly was evicted in February 2018 from two Atlanta-area homes over more than $31,000 owed in unpaid back rent.”
Amazingly, throughout it all, Kelly has remained a steady presence on many popular music streaming sites and apps. As of Friday afternoon, Kelly’s music was still being offered up for downloads and streams on streaming platforms that include Apple Music and Spotify.
Spotify, which last year removed Kelly’s music from its playlists before putting it back, pays about $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream to the holder of music rights,” CNBC reported last year. And while that may not be much depending on the number of streams, Kelly has always remained popular with his most loyal fans. Streams by them and others could provide at least a little income trickling in for someone who was apparently in desperate need of it.
In what could be an ominous sign of things to come, the disgraced singer’s streams reportedly increased by 16 percent after the airing of “Surviving R. Kelly.”