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International Business Times
International Business Times
Ann Resuma

R. Kelly Net Worth 2024: The King Of R&B's Rise And Fall

Robert Sylvester Kelly, better known as R. Kelly, rose to fame as one of the most successful R&B artists of the 1990s and early 2000s. Thanks to his strong voice, people started calling him the "King of R&B" and the "Pied Piper of R&B." However, his career has been overshadowed by numerous claims of sexual misconduct, abuse, and even child pornography. These serious allegations ultimately led to his downfall and conviction in court.

R. Kelly net worth

At the utmost of his career, R. Kelly's net worth was estimated to be around $100 million. His 1995 album "R. Kelly" sold an incredible 4 million copies, which was a huge commercial success. He had a series of extremely popular, multi-platinum records and big hit singles like "Bump n' Grind," "I Believe I Can Fly," and "Trapped in the Closet." However, his lavish and expensive lifestyle combined with costly legal troubles have completely affected his fortune. As of 2024, unexpectedly, his net worth is estimated to be negative $2 million, meaning he is millions in debt.

R. Kelly's main source of income was, of course, his wildly successful music career over many years. He has sold nearly 40 million albums in the United States and over 54 million albums worldwide. That is an amazing number of sales. Additionally, he earned a lot of money by writing and producing songs and albums for big artists like Aaliyah, Michael Jackson, and the Isley Brothers. His constant touring, merchandise sales, and other business enterprises also contributed greatly to his once immense net worth.

Legal troubles and lost opportunities

R. Kelly's many legal issues began in the early 2000s when a shocking sex tape allegedly showing him having sex with an underage girl circulated. Though he was acquitted of charges related to that tape in 2008, the disturbing allegations severely damaged his reputation and career aspects going forward. He lost many rich endorsement deals and sponsorships. His opportunities for major touring were affected. His recording contract with RCA/Sony was terminated amid the growing #MuteRKelly boycott movement against him. Additionally, he has reportedly paid out tens of millions of dollars to settle lawsuits from his alleged victims over the years.

Rock bottom

In more recent years, R. Kelly's financial situation has become extremely problematic. In 2019, he shockingly revealed that he owed nearly $1.9 million to the IRS alone in unpaid taxes, on top of unpaid rent, unpaid child support payments, and many other unpaid debts piling up. He struggled to pay his legal fees for his team of lawyers and even had difficulty coming up with a $100,000 cash bond payment after one arrest. With his main income streams completely cut off due to his reputation, R. Kelly claimed he was forced to go on tour and borrow money from others just to barely stay afloat financially and pay bills. Ultimately, his years of legal troubles ended in him being sentenced to a very lengthy 30-year prison sentence in 2022 for illegal business and sex trafficking charges involving many underage victims.

From street performer to superstar

Born on Chicago's south side in 1967, R. Kelly had a very difficult upbringing while growing up in the city's public housing projects. He dropped out of high school at a young age, but found an early passion for singing and performing, even busking and performing for tips on city sidewalks and subway platforms. His first big break came when he surprisingly won $100,000 as the winner on the talent show competition "Big Break" in 1989. This led to him getting his first major record deal with Jive Records and the launch of his groundbreaking career as an R&B singer, songwriter and producer.

The road to stardom

R. Kelly's debut solo album "12 Play" in 1993 was an instant hit, thanks largely to the immensely popular single "Bump n' Grind" which caught on quickly. He very rapidly became one of the bestselling R&B artists of the entire 1990s with tracks like "You Remind Me of Something" and "I Believe I Can Fly" which won a total of 3 Grammy Awards. His high-profile collaborations and duets with major stars like Jay-Z and Celine Dion further established his mainstream appeal to pop music audiences. Over the span of his lengthy successful career, he released 14 studio albums and participated in 12 major world tours.

Behind the controversial persona

Going beyond just his professional highs and lows in the music industry, R. Kelly's personal life has been controversial, and filled with legal troubles. In 1994, in an infamous and shocking incident, he illegally married his 15-year-old protégé Aaliyah, though the marriage was quickly annulled soon after. He later married dancer Andrea Lee in 1996, and they had 3 children together before getting divorced in 2009 amid more scandals surrounding Kelly's behavior. The Gemini singer, born on January 8, 1967 in Chicago, has faced an overwhelming multitude of civil lawsuits and criminal charges related to his alleged inappropriate behavior and sexual abuse of underage girls and women over many decades. The R&B legend's overall journey and career path has indeed been one filled with remarkable talents, achievements and success, but also heavily marked by a very dark history of criminal activities and highly disturbing personal controversies.

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