A multimillion-dollar fortune made him one of the most popular R&B singers of the ’90s and early 2000s until he was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Wednesday on racketeering for sex trafficking crimes.
R Kelly’s own wealth was dwindling over the years as a result of court troubles. So, how did he go from being among the most successful artists in the United States to being bankrupt?
Kelly’s debut album “12 Play” got certified six times platinum when it became popular in 1993. It wasn’t until 1998 that R. Kelly’s “R. Kelly” album sold almost four million copies he won 3 Grammy Awards and topped the charts with “I Believe I Can Fly.”
There are numerous music awards for Kelly, including the BET Award, the Billboard Award, and other American Music Awards. Between 1994 and 2013, he took part in a total of 12 global tours. His net worth has grown throughout the years, peaking at about $100 million at one point, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Settlements with victims of the singer’s abuse, a costly divorce, and other legal issues have all contributed to his slow but costly demise.
Over the years, Kelly has had a string of legal difficulties that have eaten away at his formerly sizable fortune, leaving him bankrupt. Photo: (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, AP Newsroom/File)
Several victims of Kelly’s sexual abuse were compensated for their ordeal after the year 2000. At some point after discovering that his collection was missing videos depicting him engaging in sexual activity with many minors in 1998, Kelly, according to Illinois authorities, paid big bucks to have them returned.
Between 1996 and 2009, Kelly and her ex-wife Andrea Lee went through a costly divorce in which he lost millions of dollars. Immediately after his incarceration in 2019, Lee filed a lawsuit against Kelly for $160,000 in child support. His Chicago home was seized in 2013 after he had not paid the mortgage for more than three years. In 2018, he was kicked out of two Atlanta apartments for failing to pay a combined $30,000 in rent.
For racketeering & sex trafficking offenses, Kelly has been convicted. Amr Alfiky/AP Photo/AP Newsroom
With the IRS, he also has difficulty. Kelly was hit with a $2 million tax debt from the IRS last year for failing to pay her 2008 taxes. Unpaid taxes of $5 million were discovered by the IRS in 2012, spanning a period of seven years. Kelly was scolded by the IRS for owing and over $600,000 in unpaid taxes in 2013 to $1.2 million in 2016.
Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison and a $100,000 fine by U.S. District Judge Karen Donnelly during his sentencing. As part of the sentence, Kelly’s lawyers claimed that the people he paid to protect him had repeatedly defrauded as well as financially abused him. As of this writing, Celebrity Net Worth reports that Kelly’s net worth is negative $2 million.