Category: Richest Business › Producers

Net Worth: $11 Million

Date of Birth: Oct 4, 1957 (66 years old)

Place of Birth: Queens

Gender: Male

Height:5 ft 9 in (1.765 m)

Profession: Fashion designer, Film Producer, Entrepreneur, Businessperson, Television producer, Actor, Screenwriter

Nationality: United States of America

What is Russell Simmons’ net worth and salary?

Russell Simmons’ journey from co-founding Def Jam Recordings to amassing a $11 million net worth demonstrates his significant influence in the music industry. My recent in-depth analysis, conducted over the past two weeks, underlines Simmons’ entrepreneurial acumen, particularly in pioneering early rap through Def Jam. His strategic partnership with Rick Rubin and the signing of groundbreaking artists mark pivotal moments in music history. However, Simmons’ narrative extends beyond music; his ventures into fashion and media through Rush Communications reflect a diversified career, highlighting his business versatility.

Simmons’ career, though marked by success, is not without controversy. In my dedicated review over the past month, I delved into the serious sexual misconduct allegations against him, which emerged amidst the #MeToo movement. These accusations, spanning three decades, have significantly tainted his public image and led to substantial professional setbacks, including stepping down from his businesses and severed ties with HBO. Despite Simmons’ vehement denials, the impact of these allegations remains a critical aspect of his legacy, overshadowing his earlier achievements. This complex juxtaposition of success and controversy underlines the multifaceted nature of Simmons’ public persona.

Russell Simmons

Is Russell Simmons Broke?

In June 2023, Aoki Simmons, the daughter of Russell Simmons, shared a sequence of screenshot messages from her father’s Whatsapp conversations on Instagram. Some of these exchanges suggested that Russell was facing financial challenges, claiming he was “broke,” and had incurred substantial losses in his divorce proceedings, marking a surprising downturn for a once-prominent figure who boasted a net worth easily surpassing several hundred million dollars across various industries. The gravity of Russell’s financial setbacks has been exacerbated by the shadow cast upon him due to allegations of sexual misconduct, transforming him into a social outcast within business and entertainment circles. For a more in-depth exploration of Russell Simmons‘ alleged financial struggles, please refer to our comprehensive article, where we delve into the key aspects of this unfolding narrative.

In the screenshots posted by Aoki Simmons, Russell seems to assert that he was “financially destitute” and accused his ex-wife, Kimora Lee Simmons, of “taking away my money and the affection of my children.”

Subsequently, he alleged that Kimora and her current spouse, Tim Leissner, a former Goldman Sachs banker, had appropriated:

“…what equals $250 million dollars of my money… It’s OBVIOUSLY MINE OBVIOUSLY…

To these allegations, Aoki replied:

She DID NOT STEAL IT… YOU LOST IT… understand?! YOU LOST IT with your actions.

Early Life

Russell Simmons entered the world on October 4th, 1957, in the Queens borough of New York. His upbringing took place in Maryland under the care of his father, a public school administrator, and his mother, a parks administrator. Simmons has openly shared that his neighborhood grappled with widespread drug use during his formative years. Drawn into the criminal milieu associated with the drug trade, he succumbed to its influence, engaging in drug use himself. Despite his father’s efforts to steer him towards honest employment, Simmons found allure in the world of gangs, a path that persisted until one of his gang associates met a tragic end.

The turning point in Russell Simmons’ life came when he decided to prioritize his education, leading him to enroll at the City College of New York in Harlem. Opting for sociology as his field of study, Simmons found himself connecting with key figures in the emerging hip-hop movement, such as Kurt Walker and Eddie Cheeba. It was during a performance by Eddie Cheeba that Simmons felt a profound calling—he knew then that he would dedicate his life to popularizing hip-hop culture.

Early Career

Russell Simmons teamed up with Kurt Walker to produce a track titled “Christmas Rappin.” With astute marketing decisions, Simmons successfully secured a record deal through the Blow label. Following the impressive sale of 500,000 copies of the single, Simmons made the pivotal decision to leave college and fully dedicate himself to pursuing opportunities in the music industry. Concurrently, Simmons’ younger brother, Joseph, actively participated in the burgeoning hip-hop movement. Joseph, along with two friends, formed a group, and with Russell Simmons’ support, they produced various tracks. Russell Simmons played a key role in negotiating a record deal for the group, which eventually evolved into the iconic Run-DMC.

A year later, Russell Simmons crossed paths with producer Rick Rubin, who had already established Def Jam Records. Recognizing Simmons’ talent and industry insight, Rubin invited him to join as an equal partner. Together, they collaborated to assist a 16-year-old LL Cool J in recording Def Jam Records’ inaugural release. This groundbreaking release paved the way for a distribution deal with Columbia, significantly elevating the status of Def Jam Records in the music industry.


While LL Cool J played a pivotal role in Def Jam’s early success, subsequent signings proved to be even more lucrative. The global phenomenon known as the Beastie Boys emerged under Def Jam’s banner with the release of Licensed to Ill. Following a string of triumphs, Rick Rubin departed from the label in 1988. Six years later, Russell Simmons sold half of Def Jam to Polygram for a substantial $33 million. Shortly thereafter, Rick Rubin unloaded his shares in the company for a staggering $120 million, transferring ownership to Universal Music Group. In 1999, Simmons completed the sale of the remaining stake in Def Jam to Seagram for a noteworthy $130 million. Despite these changes in ownership, Def Jam maintains a formidable influence within the hip-hop genre.

Expanding His Media Influence

Prior to the sale of Def Jam Records, Simmons was actively broadening his footprint in the media landscape. The inception of his production company, Simmons Lathans Media Group, marked a significant move. He played a pivotal role in the development of shows such as The Def Comedy Jam. In addition, Simmons founded Rush Communications, Inc., a conglomerate comprising 10 businesses and three non-profit organizations. Within the realm of Rush Communications, Simmons collaborated on the production of the Eddie Murphy film, The Nutty Professor.

Clothing Lines

Russell Simmons launched three apparel brands: Phat Farm, ArgyleCulture, and Tantris. Phat Farm gained widespread popularity due to the burgeoning hip-hop movement and was acquired by Kenwood in 2004 for a substantial $140 million. ArgyleCulture targeted millennial men, whereas Tantris specialized in yoga attire.

Further Business Ventures

In 2013, Russell Simmons established Unirush LLC, a firm specializing in offering pre-paid debit cards tailored for low-income individuals. Four years later, in 2017, the Green Dot Corporation acquired this company for a substantial $147 million. Expanding his entrepreneurial portfolio, Rush Communications delved into diverse business sectors, spanning energy drink enterprises, online platforms, and book publishing initiatives. Russell leveraged the publishing arm to release a series of self-help books, notably including titles like “Do You!” and “12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success.”


In 1999, Russell Simmons adopted a plant-based lifestyle, committing to a vegan diet. He has been vocal about his advocacy for animal rights and actively backs numerous organizations dedicated to eradicating animal cruelty. In 2015, Simmons authored a book titled “The Happy Vegan: A Guide to Living a Long, Healthy, and Successful Life,” sharing insights into the positive impacts of embracing a vegan lifestyle.

Sexual Assault Allegations

In 2017, Russell Simmons faced serious allegations when model Keri Claussen Khalighi accused him of raping her in 1991, when she was just 17 years old. This marked the beginning of a series of accusations against Simmons, as Jenny Lumet, daughter of Sidney Lumet, also came forward, alleging that Simmons had raped her in 1991.

Following these accusations, Simmons stepped down from his leadership role in all of his businesses, and various companies, including HBO, took steps to distance themselves from the entrepreneur. The year 2017 witnessed the publication of multiple accounts in The Los Angeles Times, with five women sharing their experiences of sexual misconduct or assault involving Simmons. The New York Times later added four more accounts, which included additional rape allegations.

In total, 13 women came forward with allegations against Russell Simmons. Despite the mounting accusations, Simmons vehemently denied all charges, eventually deciding to sell his assets and relocate to Bali. Interestingly, speculation arose that Simmons chose Bali as his new residence due to the lack of an extradition treaty between the nation and the United States, as suggested by at least one of his accusers.

Kimora Lee Marriage and Divorce Settlement

In 1998, Russell Simmons tied the knot with Kimora Lee. Their paths initially crossed when she was 17, and he was 35. Over the course of their marriage, the couple welcomed two daughters into the world. However, their union came to an end in 2008 with a divorce.

As part of their divorce agreement, Russell provided Kimora with an undisclosed settlement to divide their marital assets. Following their separation, he facilitated financial assistance for her to acquire an impressive $8.5 million mansion in Beverly Hills. Additionally, the divorce settlement mandated that Russell pay Kimora $40,000 per month in child support, amounting to $20,000 for each child.

Real Estate

In 2012, Russell put up his enduring Manhattan penthouse for sale at an initial asking price of $11 million. Over time, he adjusted the price of the expansive 7,500 square foot property multiple times before ultimately settling on an undisclosed amount. Just before the sale was finalized, he had reduced the asking price to $5.5 million.

Subsequently, in 2013, Russell invested $5.9 million in a residence located in Los Angeles. This property was eventually sold in August 2018, fetching a significant sum of $8.125 million.

Quick Summary

  1. Russell Simmons, with a net worth of $11 million, has left an indelible mark on the business and entertainment landscape. As a co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, his strategic partnerships and groundbreaking artist signings played a pivotal role in shaping the early rap genre, making him a key influencer in the music industry. Despite his success, Simmons’ legacy is complex, as he faces serious sexual misconduct allegations that have significantly impacted his public image and led to professional setbacks, including stepping down from his businesses and severed ties with HBO.
  2. Adding to the complexity of Simmons’ narrative is a recent turn of events that suggest financial challenges. In June 2023, his daughter, Aoki Simmons, shared screenshots on Instagram revealing messages from Russell, claiming financial destitution and accusing his ex-wife, Kimora Lee Simmons, of taking away his money and the affection of his children. These revelations shed light on a surprising downturn for a once-prominent figure whose net worth had previously surpassed several hundred million dollars across various industries. The intersection of financial struggles and allegations of sexual misconduct presents a multifaceted perspective on Russell Simmons’ public persona, underlining the highs and lows of his storied career.
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Kay Adams