Kanye West cries debt on social media


By Phil Rosenthal, Chicago Tribune

If Kanye West can’t make ends meet, what hope is there for the rest of us?

It was just a few weeks ago that wife Kim Kardashian rhapsodized on a live video stream about the more than 150 holiday gifts West bought her. Highlights included a Prada jumpsuit, a Louis Vuitton dress and a rainbow-colored Yves Saint Laurent fur coat.

“He sent his assistant to Italy and shopped via Skype,” Kardashian told fans.


Because of course he did.

So you can imagine everyone’s surprise when the “Gold Digger” rapper announced Saturday night via Twitter that he is $53 million in debt.

Who possibly could have seen that coming?

Except, you know, his business manager, accountant, lawyer, agent, investment team, bankers, family, friends, associates and anyone with whom he does business.

Let’s just assume that keeping up with the Kardashians isn’t cheap.

Absent forensic accounting, we’re left to take West at his word on this, though one supposes there’s a remote chance it could be an elaborate ruse.

Yes, being $53 million in the hole reflects badly on West, but so did interrupting Taylor Swift’s MTV acceptance speech and he didn’t hesitate there. Ditto for reigniting his feud with Swift in recent days, not to mention tweeting his support for embattled comedian Bill Cosby.


This could be a bizarre stunt to draw attention to West’s new studio album. “Life of Pablo” was released on the subscription streaming service Tidal and, briefly, West’s own website, too, before being withdrawn in deference to an exclusivity deal apparently cut with Tidal.

Maybe West just wanted to get out of buying a Valentine’s Day gift. Let’s face it. After a $40,000 rainbow-colored fur coat, a teddy bear and a heart-shaped box of chocolates might have been a bit of a letdown.

West, however, sold the financial disaster more emphatically than he’s sold, say, his designer clothing line. Even the sweatpants list for more than $500, and West told BET last year he had run up $16 million in debt on that venture.

“I write this to you my brothers while still 53 million dollars in personal debt,” West tweeted with humility Saturday. “Please pray we overcome… This is my true heart.”

Then the former Chicagoan appealed in a series of tweets beginning Sunday for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to contact him about investing $1 billion “into Kanye West ideas.”

Some might have thought twice about trying to reach out to the founder of one social media platform through a rival social media platform. But West described himself in his tweets as “the greatest living artist and greatest artist of all time,” and that’s just how he rolls.

West, who expanded his Twitter appeal later Sunday to include Google’s Larry Page, called himself “this generation’s Disney” and said he wanted “to bring dope” stuff “to the world.”

No wonder this guy ran out of money. Seems everything he sees appears larger than it actually is.

West expressed amazement that a Zuckerberg or Page might prefer to “open up one school in Africa like you really helped the country” rather than give him money “to make the world dope.”

We’ll leave it to the gossips to tell us why West is going public with his pitch, rather than ask his reality TV star wife, whose 2015 income Forbes pegged at $52.5 million, for a loan or at least the Prada jumpsuit to return for his money back.

“I want to help the world and I need help to do it. I am an artist and I care about humanity,” West tweeted Monday. “Yes I am personally rich and I can buy furs and houses for my family.

“But I need access to more money in order to bring more beautiful ideas to the world,” he wrote. “If I spent my money on my ideas I could not afford to take care of my family. I am in a place that so many artist end up.”

West is hardly the first star to run into money problems or to look to raise money in a public way. A bad investment here or there, a setback, a bit of profligate spending and things can get into the red fast.

No matter how much some people make, they can often find they need more.

When David Bowie sought millions of dollars in a hurry 19 years ago, he sold asset-based securities, 10-year bonds against future royalties. He didn’t rattle a cup telling wealthy people it was better to fund him than education in developing nations.

Should West fail to snag a billionaire benefactor, he can always scrape together a few bucks for a Jean Chatzky book on personal finance or something and learn to live more within his means, as we all must.

Don’t feel too bad for West, though. It’s his assistant who’ll be traveling to Macy’s instead of Milan.


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