Robert Kelly, known more commonly as R. Kelly, is a singer, songwriter, and record producer. Since the early 1990s, he has become one of the must successful artists in the world, earning critical praise as well as numerous awards. With this fame has come controversy, however, Kelly is infamous for his personal life, often times landing in hot water due to his relationships with underage women.
On Monday, Buzzfeed published a shocking piece on Kelly, claiming that he runs a “sex cult” in Georgia where he controls and abuses young women. With this controversy lingering, many have wondered how much the singer currently has in the bank. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Kelly has an estimated net worth of $150 million.
Read on to learn how he’s made his money and what he likes to spend it on:
1. He’s Sold Over 100 Million Albums Worldwide
R. Kelly began his career the R&B group Public Announcement, but he eventually went solo with the 1993 album 12 Play. The decision quickly proved to be an inspired one, as 12 Play spawned two hit singles and was eventually certified 6x platinum. Kelly followed up the album with R. Kelly (1995), and R. (1998), the latter of which went 8x platinum and remains his best-selling album to date.
Kelly continued this success into the new millennium, releasing two lucrative albums with Jay-Z, the second and third installments in his TP series, and Chocolate Factory (2003), which went 2x platinum and contained what many consider a signature R. Kelly song, “Ignition (Remix).” Out of his 14 studio releases, eight have gone platinum, and two have gone gold. This has resulted in Kelly having sold over 100 million albums worldwide.
In 2011, Billboard named him the best-selling R&B and hip-hop artist of the past 25 years. With his 35 top ten hits on the US R&B/Hip-Hop chart, he currently ranks ahead of major pop stars like Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Usher.
2. He’s Donated to Numerous Charities Over the Years
Kelly has donated to a number of charities over the years. The most notable donation he made was in 2003, when he donated $50,000 to the Texas Military Family Foundation. According to MTV News, Kelly had staged a benefit concert for the foundation, but once a promoter said no money would be forthcoming, he decided to ante up the money himself.
“It is with heartfelt gratitude that we thank Mr. Kelly for his contribution,” said Julie Curtis-Win, executive director of the Texas Military Family Foundation, “And I am sure that the troops and their families that we support would want us to thank Mr. Kelly on their behalf.” The singer’s proceeds were used to send care packages to soldiers in Iraq.
In 2016, Kelly helped fund the funeral for two boys who died in a Chicago fire. Kankakee’s Daily-Journal reports that he donated $5,000 to ensure the boy’s parents needn’t worry about arrangements.“He was so heartbroken to hear about that fire,” said Kelly’s lawyer Linda Mensch, “It’s part of the foundation’s mission to help people in need, uplift their spirits and make the world a better place.” The singer’s tour manager Kevin Gyles added “He does all his charity work from the heart.”
Kelly has also performed a number of benefit concerts, with proceeds going to everything from the Special Olympics to African charities.
3. He Agreed to a $50 Million Settlement With His Ex-Wife Andrea Kelly
Kelly met choreographer Andrea Kelly (nee Lee) when she auditioned to be one of his backup dancers in 1994. They married in 1996 and had three children before their divorce in 2009. The singer explained the grounds of their divorce in his 2012 autobiography Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me.
In it he claims that the film The Notebook (2004) helped him realize that he was unhappy in his marriage: “As the film credits started to roll, I couldn’t move. I burst into tears. People walking past me patted me on the back, trying to console me. The Notebook was beautiful. But I was also crying because I remembered… My marriage had died. And there was nothing I could do to bring it back.”
While details involving their divorce settlement remain scarce, due to Kelly’s gag order on the proceedings, Celebrity Net Worth reports that he paid Andrea a whopping sum of $50 million. This was in addition to child support on their children Joann, Jaya (formerly Jay), and Robert, Jr.
In 2013, she and Kelly got into a legal debate as to whether he had paid off an outstanding $114,000 in child support. The singer insisted that he did, and court documents obtained by AllHipHop later supported his stance.
Andrea Kelly currently stars on the VH1 series Hollywood Exes, and has already gotten divorced from her second husband, Brian McKee.
Kelly was also married to R&B singer Aaliyah from 1994-95. To learn more about their controversial relationship, click below.
4. He Owes the IRS Millions in Back Taxes
After divorcing Andrea Kelly in 2009, the singer was targeted by the IRS for not paying his taxes between the years 2005 and 2010. According to court documents obtained by TMZ, Kelly owed the IRS a whopping $4.8 million in total, to which his representatives responded by saying “R. Kelly is in the process of working everything out with the government and is confident that all his obligations will be satisfied.”
Despite this assurance, Kelly has fallen into even worse trouble with the IRS in this decade. The Jasmine Brand reports that the IRS filed a lien for $191,614.35 for unpaid taxes for the year 2012, followed shortly by a lien that accused the singer of screwing them out of $2,327,444.58 in 2014. You can view an unofficial copy of the most recent lien here.
In 2011, Kelly’s mansion went into foreclosure after J.P. Morgan Chase Bank claimed that he owed over $2.9 million on it. Attempts to short sell the property failed, according to NBC Chicago, and it eventually sold at a Cook County Auction for $950,000.
5. He’s Paid Millions in Out-of-Court Sexual Misconduct Settlements
In addition to the IRS, Kelly’s relationships with a number of underage girls have also hurt his overall net worth. And while the singer has settled a number of sexual misconduct suits– the most notable being the the two teens in his 2002 child pornography indictment– it appears that he’s also settled a number of cases out-of-court. Page Six reports that there have “dozens of girls — not one, not two, dozens — with harrowing lawsuits.”
One specific case was a 36-year-old housekeeper, who Kelly paid $100,000 to avoid litigation and unnecessary publicity. Music writer Jim DeRogatis added to this sentiment in a Village Voice interview, saying “I think in the history of rock ‘n’ roll, rock music or pop culture people misbehaving and behaving badly sexually .. rare is the amount of evidence compiled against anyone apart from R. Kelly.”
DeRogitas is also the writer behind the Buzzfeed article that was published on Monday. He reports that Kelly has at least five young women staying with him against their will, women who have had their phones confiscated and are filmed engaging in sexual activity with the singer so that he can show the videos to men in his circle afterwards.
A representative for Kelly has since denied these allegations, telling TMZ “Mr. Robert Kelly is both alarmed and disturbed by the recent revelations attributed to him. Mr. Kelly unequivocally denies such accusations and will work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name.”
It is unclear whether there will be legal action taken by any of the parents of these young women.