Apple's $3.2B Beats Buy Would Make Dre Rap's Richest Man

May 9 2014, 2:20am CDT | by

The Forbes Five: Hip-Hop's Wealthiest Artists 2014

Dr. Dre leapfrogged Jay Z in FORBES’ latest rankings of hip-hop’s richest artists, claiming the number two position as his net worth soared to an estimated $550 million. Now it looks like the Beats cofounder could lay claim to the top spot in a matter of days.

Late Thursday night, the Financial Times reported that Apple was in talks to buy Beats for $3.2 billion; the deal would be the computer giant’s largest acquisition ever. Dre’s stake in Beats currently stands at somewhere around 20-25%; we valued the company at $2 billion in our latest round of estimates.

A sale for $3.2 billion would nearly double the value of Dre’s holdings, though capital gains taxes could take a bite out of his big payday, likely leaving him with a net worth in the neighborhood of $800 million. It’s not quite enough to land on the Forbes 400, but it would easily make him hip-hop’s richest man, topping current champion Diddy by $100 million.

“Beats has a unique brand—it speaks to a nice young demographic, which is really interesting to marketers,” said Peter Csathy, former president of Musicmatch, an early digital music purveyor acquired by Yahoo in 2004 for $160 million. “When I think about Beats, I think about it as a lifestyle, I think of it as a media company, not just a hardware and music-focused company.”

The value of that brand would also make a handful of other wealthy entrepreneurs even wealthier if the Apple deal goes through. Beats recently raised $60 million in funding from current investors including Dre, cofounder Jimmy Iovine and billionaire Len Blavatnik, via his company Access Industries.

A sale would also nix the possibility of a Beats IPO, which some speculated could be in the offing after the company hired chief financial officer An De Vooght, who spent 16 years in a similar role at Red Bull after stints at Sony and Price Waterhouse, in March.

Apple’s Beats buyout is still not official, and could certainly fall through. In the meantime, though, Dre appears set to break new ground in the business of music yet again.

For more about the music industry, check out my Jay Z biographyEmpire State of Mind. My next, Michael Jackson, Inc, will be published in June. You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook.


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