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The World’s Highest-Paid Comedians Of 2018

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Once again, Jerry Seinfeld is the King of Comedy.


The Seinfeld creator earned $57.5 million in 12 months, before taxes and fees, claiming the top spot on our list of the world’s highest-paid comedians. He collected multimillion-dollar dividends from his 2017 Netflix deal and Hulu’s streaming rights to all nine seasons of Seinfeld. Offscreen, Seinfeld made more than $30 million from his first love, stand-up.

Since Forbes started tracking the earnings of the highest-paid comedians in 2006, Seinfeld has topped the list every year with the exception of 2016, when he was dethroned by Kevin Hart.

Though Seinfeld is on top, Hart certainly gave him a run for his money. The pint-sized powerhouse ranks second with $57 million, only $500,000 behind Seinfeld. The Kevin Hart Irresponsible Tour, which was the biggest comedy tour of 2018, topped 1 million tickets sold and banked Hart more than $30 million. He also starred in the wildly successful Jumanji remake, which grossed nearly $1 billion worldwide. Hart was recently picked to host the 2019 Oscars, but he stepped down due to backlash against his prior homophobic tweets.

The world’s ten highest-paid comedians made a grand total of $292 million, before taxes and fees, from June 1, 2017, to June 1, 2018. This is a whopping $82.5 million lower than last year’s haul due to fewer Netflix deals. Many of this year’s funnymen—including Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock—saw their streaming earnings decrease from 2017.

Two individuals disappeared from our lineup this year: Amy Schumer and Louis C.K. In 2017, Schumer became the first woman to ever appear on the highest-paid comedians list thanks to touring and a lucrative Netflix special, but she did not meet this year’s $15 million cutoff. As for C.K., he made the comedians list and the ranking of the world’s highest-paid celebrities with $52 million last year. But after he confirmed sexual misconduct allegations against him in November 2017, Netflix canceled his second special and C.K. stopped performing until this past August when he made an unannounced appearance at the Comedy Cellar.

Gabriel Iglesias, who last made the list in 2015, returns with a career-best haul of $20.5 million, enough for sixth place. The comedian, affectionately known as “Fluffy,” made most of his millions from performing a stunning 136 gigs, but he also inked a three-project deal with Netflix last April for a multi-camera comedy series and two new stand-up specials. He might clinch a higher spot on next year’s list thanks to his Beyond the Fluffy world tour, which starts in February.

The one newcomer is a familiar face. British comedian Ricky Gervais, who claims fifth place with $25 million, made a killing on Humanity, his first stand-up tour in seven years. He received at least $15 million, Forbes estimates, for his Netflix special of the same name. The Office co-creator has signed on for a second Netflix special that has yet to be filmed.

Without a doubt, Netflix has changed the comedy economy. Armed with an original programming budget as high as $13 billion, Netflix is able to outbid most other networks; the streaming service released nearly 100 stand-up specials this year alone.

That said, Netflix hasn’t cornered the comedy market yet. Jim Gaffigan (No. 8, $17.5 million) released his latest special, Noble Ape, direct to digital, bypassing Netflix, which released his previous two specials. Hart, who launched his own fledgling streaming service, Laugh Out Loud, believes Netflix isn’t his most important revenue stream.

“Nothing is ever going to beat touring. It’s an entity that I own and control,” Hart told Forbes. “I would never turn my back on stand up; it opened up the doors I walk through now.” Gallery: The Highest-Paid Comedians Of 201811 imagesView gallery 

METHODOLOGY

All earnings estimates are from June 1, 2017, through June 1, 2018. Figures are pretax; fees for agents, managers and lawyers are not deducted. Earnings estimates are based on data from Pollstar Pro as well as interviews with industry insiders.

The World’s Highest-Paid Comedians Of 2018

10. Sebastian Maniscalco

Earnings: $15 million

9. Jeff Dunham

Earnings: $16.5 million

8. Jim Gaffigan

Earnings: $17.5 million

7. Terry Fator

Earnings: $18 million

6. Gabriel Iglesias

Earnings: $20.5 million

5. Ricky Gervais

Earnings: $25 million

4. Chris Rock

Earnings: $30 million

3. Dave Chappelle

Earnings: $35 million

2. Kevin Hart

Earnings: $57 million

1. Jerry Seinfeld

Earnings: $57.5 million

  • Hayley Cuccinello and Madeline Berg

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The World’s Most Reputable CEOs 2019

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There was a time when it seemed Google could do no wrong—and then came “the memo.” Penned by a former software engineer critical of the company’s diversity initiatives, the now infamous 2017 document tarnished the tech titan’s reputation. But CEO Sundar Pichai emerged unscathed, thanks in part to the transparent way he managed the crisis.

Two years later, though, troubles ranging from employee protests over the organization’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations to data breaches widespread enough to warrant the shuttering of Google Plus appear to have proved too much for even the Valley’s most trusted leader, and as the business has faltered, so, too, has its CEO. 

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“Sundar Pichai, celebrated as the most reputable CEO in the world last year, didn’t make the top ten at all this year,” says Stephen Hahn-Griffiths of the Reputation Institute, a reputation measurement and management services firm. For the second year in a row, RI has published the Global CEO RepTrak, a study of chief executive reputation.

This year’s ranking reveals an average two-point increase in the reputations of the world’s CEOs, a trend that mirrors the one-point increase in the reputations of the world’s companies. The driving force behind both, Hahn-Griffiths says, is corporate responsibility.

“There was a time and a place when it was good enough for leaders to deliver on financial performance, new products and innovative agendas, but that paradigm has changed,” he explains. “Social responsibility, employee responsibility and environmental responsibility—that’s 32% of the weight of reputation of any given CEO.”

With that in mind, it’s no wonder that Pichai, whose identity as a leader is so inextricably linked to that of his company, fell from the top ten, and he’s far from alone: Eight of the CEOs who appeared in the upper echelon of last year’s list—including Kraft Heinz Company CEO Bernardo Hees, Mondelēz International CEO Dirk Van de Put and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner—failed to return this time, their descents making room for the rise of some newcomers, among them Ben van Beurden.

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At first glance, the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell might seem an unlikely candidate to rank high on a list of this nature. After all, not only has the energy sector long been regarded by the general public as one without much of a moral compass, but the business Van Beurden leads isn’t counted among the world’s most reputable.

None of this is news to him, and since rising to the helm in 2014, he’s made rewriting the narrative a priority, and a public one at that. “Doing the right thing is the single biggest driver of reputation,” Hahn-Griffiths says. “His leadership style—lead from the front, not the back—says not only is he a highly ethical CEO, but he has empathy and the desire to make the world a better place to live.”

BRITAIN-NETHERLANDS-EARNINGS-OIL-BUSINESS
Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van BeurdenAFP/GETTY IMAGES

From spearheading a campaign to reduce Shell’s net carbon footprint50% by 2050 to collaborating with organizations including the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures and the World Resources Institute to ensure that his company’s plans become a reality, Van Beurden has acknowledged the elephant in the energy room—climate change—and has demonstrated his commitment to working to protect the planet against the threats his industry has helped create. “Energy is one of the least reputable industries,” Hahn-Griffiths says. “Shell really took a stand as a leader in climate change and alternative energy, and redefined what it means to be a good corporate citizen in the energy sector.”

The attention Van Beurden has paid to developing sustainable energy solutions is surely qualification enough to make him one of the world’s most reputable CEOs, but had he pursued these initiatives behind closed doors, would they have been enough to propel him into the top ten? It’s difficult to say, and the visibility of his leadership certainly didn’t hurt.

In fact, the more familiar the general public is with a CEO, the more likely he or she is to have a strong reputation. “The difference between having a CEO with whom the general public isn’t familiar is 10.3 points,” Hahn-Griffiths says. “Not only is that significant, but it translates into billions of dollars in market capitalization, just because you have a CEO at the helm who is visible.”

Worth noting, however, is that the association between familiarity and perception won’t exist if a CEO is known for all the wrong reasons. As in the case of Pichai, not all press is good press.

The Battery Conservancy Presents John Demsey With The Battery Medal For Corporate Leadership
The Estée Lauder Companies CEO Fabrizio FredaPATRICK MCMULLAN VIA GETTY IMAGE

For Fabrizio Freda, whose familiarity ensured his spot in the top tenfor the second year in a row, influence has always been a business imperative. Upon becoming the first non-Lauder to serve as CEO of The Estée Lauder Cos., in 2009, Freda was faced with a big branding challenge: convincing the Millennial generation that a 63-year-old cosmetics company might be relevant to them.

In order to successfully make the case, Freda just knew a brand makeover wouldn’t do, so he started on the inside, implementing a global reverse-mentoring program to promote perpetual learning and development for employees and prioritizing the hiring of more Millennials, who now reportedly make up 67% of the Estée Lauder workforce.

Such shifts have enabled the company to make attention-grabbing moves on the global stage, including the acquisitions of Smashbox, Becca and Too Faced, all Millennial-centric beauty brands, the latter of which boasts 12.5 million Instagram followers. “Part of his legacy is really making strides toward winning over the Millennial cohort,” Hahn-Griffiths says. “He’s taken a company that’s been around for generations and has made it relevant to emerging audiences around the world.”

And while not every initiative has gone according to plan—Estée Edit, a Millennial-focused line fronted by Kendall Jenner, was discontinued after just 18 months on Sephora’s shelves—those don’t seem to have hurt Freda’s bottom line; Estée Lauder’s market cap has grown from about $5 billion back in 2009 to more than $60 billion today.

“Without losing our advantages of scale and scope, we are instilling a more entrepreneurial mindset to ensure we stay agile and act decisively,” wrote Freda in a statement to Forbes. “This gives us the best qualities of a well-financed, structured organization with the challenger spirit of a startup.”

READ MORE: Gene Hackers: The Young Biotech Entrepreneurs Looking To Make Billions By Editing Life Itself

Notably absent from this year’s list are women. That’s unsettling. Last year, The Campbell Soup Co. CEO Denise Morrison, who has since stepped down, was the only woman to make the ranks. RI attributes the lack of representation among female leaders to the fact that, on average, their familiarity with the general public is 12%, whereas that of their male counterparts is 15%.

But Hahn-Griffiths is confident that this trend will soon change, and he says GlaxoSmithKline CEO Emma Walmsley is the one to watch. “She’s the first woman to run a major pharmaceuticals company and has been really disruptive,” he says. “We anticipate the number of women CEOs to increase significantly, and we think Emma, who she is and what she represents, is a role model.”

-Vicky Valet;Forbes Staff

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Hip-Hop Cash Princes And Princesses: The Class Of 2019

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On a blazingly bright morning at the end of the South By Southwest music and technology conference, Rico Nasty takes the stage at the Fader Fort in Austin as part of a panel discussion—and finds another way to increase her earnings. Clad in a swirly black-and-lime-green jumpsuit, she shows off her threads as cameras flash; after the event, she spends a few moments talking up her outfit.

“I bought it a few days ago, and I’m probably going to wear it once, and there’s going to be a lot of pictures in it,” the 21-year-old rapper says before outlining her plan to sell the jumpsuit on the peer-to-peer shopping app Depop, as she does with most of the clothing she wears in public. “We’ve made like, probably $20 thousand in the past two months.”

Born Maria-Cecilia Simone Kelly in Brooklyn, Rico started rapping in high school before releasing a string of mixtapes. She signed to Atlantic Records and has yet to release her formal debut studio album, but she’s already among music’s most promising up-and-comers, earning her a spot on our list. And with more women like Rico rising up the rap charts, we’re formally changing the name of our ranking to Hip-Hop Cash Princes and Princesses.

The list, presented in full below, comprises the genre’s top ten recording artists and producers under the age of 30 in terms of future earning potential, as judged by an expert panel; no repeats are allowed. This year’s list of judges includes the late Nipsey Hussle, a 2015 Cash Prince who sent his picks just days before his tragic passing; songwriter and 30 Under 30 honoree Mickey Shiloh; and NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, who found a lot to like about Rico.

Rico Nasty
Rico NastyGETTY IMAGES

“Rico Nasty is one of the best shooting guards in hip-hop right now,” says O’Neal, whose résumé includes careers as a DJ and rapper. “Like a shooting guard, she is able to score in many ways and adapt to the style of play. She is dynamic and always working on her craft, improving her game, updating her sound.”

First, Rico had to work her way off the bench. After moving from New York to Maryland as a child, she started rapping during her teenage years and her mother started working as her manager. For Rico’s first gig, they paid $200 to rent out a performance space, figuring they could more than double that sum by charging $20 per head for tickets. Only six people showed up.

Rico remembers reorganizing her life after that: She moved out of her mother’s house and started working to build her career from the ground up. That meant churning out mixtapes and interacting with her fans on a one-on-one basis—both on social media and in person as she tried her hand at live performances once again around Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

“I’m bringing them out to the shows, and we’re getting our nails done and shit,” she says, recalling her first efforts to bring fans into her corner. “This is my opportunity to make these people lifelong friends, in a sense.”

Blueface
BluefaceGETTY IMAGES

In 2017, Rico’s single “Poppin” took off on YouTube and was featured on HBO’s Insecure; the following year, she signed to Atlantic and released another mixtape, Nasty. Her pay for live shows started to climb in tandem. From her days struggling to top $100 per concert, she zoomed to an average of $7,000 per gig before snagging an estimated $35,000 guarantee for her performance at Coachella last weekend (she wouldn’t confirm the precise amount).

“Five figures,” she says coyly. “That shit feels amazing to say out loud.”

Rico still has ways to go before she gets to the level of the festival’s headliners, whose gigs fetch seven-figure guarantees. In the meantime, she’s working on other ways to extend her brand. In addition to her work with Depop, she recently launched a line of headphones with Skullcandy. And, with the marijuana accessory provider Hemper, she gets a per-unit cut on sales of Rico Nasty-branded bongs, rolling papers and air fresheners.

Says judge Mickey Shiloh of Rico: “Somebody that creates their own lane like this is bound to make waves for the long run.”

Hip Hop Cash Princes: Introducing The Class Of 2019

6LACK

“6LACK’s tone is completely his own,” says Shiloh. “His songwriting is also what takes his artistry to an entirely new level … it’s like everything you can’t find the words to say, he says effortlessly.”

A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie

The Bronx-born rapper is no stranger to the Cash Princes universe, having collaborated with list of alumni including 21 Savage and Offset of Migos. He’s becoming a star in his own right: A Boogie’s second album, Hoodie SZN, topped the chart shortly after its December 2018 release.

Bad Bunny

The trap rapper blends hip-hop with Reggaeton as seamlessly as he weaves English and Spanish lyrics into wildly popular songs like Cardi B’s “I Like It,” his first U.S. chart-topper. He now grosses more than $500,000 per tour stop.

Blueface

The Cash Money Records signee rose to prominence with his smash song “Thotiana”—from his 2018 mixtape Famous Cryp­—which has climbed to No. 8 on the U.S. singles charts. He was a top pick from Nipsey Hussle; both stars have crossed gang lines to record with Cash Princes alum YG.

Juice Wrld

Five questions with the Chicago-born “Lucid Dreams” hip-hop star:

Forbes: What was your first job? “Factory job creating car parts.”

What’s the app you can’t live without? “Soundcloud.”

How many hours per week do you work now? “168.”

Worst advice you’ve received? “To change my style of music in order to try and be more popular.”

What is your greatest achievement? “I haven’t reached it yet.”

Lil Baby

The Atlanta-born emcee is already accumulating princely numbers: His 2018 debut, Harder Than Ever, earned gold certification for sales of more than 500,000 units. He now grosses over $70,000 per tour stop.

Gunna

The Georgia native got started with the help of Cash Princes alum Young Thug, whose YSL label co-released Gunna’s studio debut Drip Or Drown—which soared to No. 3 on the Billboard charts—in February. His single “Drip Too Hard,” with listmate Lil Baby, earned triple-platinum certification.

Russ

Five questions with the hip-hop star who earned $15 million last year:

Forbes: What was your first job? “Busboy.”

What’s the app you can’t live without? “Uber Eats.”

How many hours per week do you work? “168.”

Worst advice you’ve ever received? “Be realistic.”

What’s your greatest achievement? “Being in a place where I can take care of my family.”Play Video

Russ: How I Maintained Control Over My Music | 30 Under 30 2019| 3:05

Rico Nasty

“I’ve never heard anything like what comes out of Rico Nasty’s mouth,” says Shiloh. “She’s trap, she’s urban, but she’s also rock with hints of screamo … somebody that creates their own lane like this is bound to make waves for the long run.”

Tierra Whack

With a quirky tone and thoughtful visuals, the Philadelphia upstart made her major-label debut last year at Interscope with the critically acclaimed Whack World. The social-media-friendly album featured 15 one-minute songs. She earned a Grammy nomination in the Best Music Video category this year for her 2017 single “Mumbo Jumbo.”

Methodology

Our list of Hip-Hop’s Cash Princes and Princesses ranks the genre’s top ten recording artists and producers under age 30 in terms of future earning potential. No repeats are allowed. This year, the honorees were selected by a panel of five judges: Nipsey Hussle, the late 2015 Cash Prince who sent in his picks just days ahead of his untimely passing; 30 Under 30 honoree and songwriter Mickey Shiloh; basketball legend and professional DJ Shaquille O’Neal; and Forbes editors Zack O’Malley Greenburg and Natalie Robehmed.

-Zack O’Malley Greenburg; Forbes Staff

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The 10 Most Notable New Billionaires Of 2019

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They come from every corner of the world—Austria and Slovakia to Australia and Vietnam—having made their fortunes in every venture imaginable: music and makeup, software and sweaters. In all, 195 fresh faces joined the world’s billionaire ranks this year. Here are 10 of the most exceptional.


one of eight children, Steward milked cows and slopped hogs on the family farm before school every day while his dad worked as a mechanic, trash collector and janitor to make ends meet. After graduating from Central Missouri State University, he sent out 400 resumes over three years before landing his “dream” job as a salesman at Missouri Pacific Railroad Company.

He cofounded IT provider World Wide Technology in 1990, which counts companies like Citi, Verizon and the federal government among its customers. His 59% stake in the $11.2 billion (sales) company, making him one of the richest African-Americans in the country. “I hope what this represents is that all things are possible,” Steward says, a lifelong jazz lover who donated $1.3 million to the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2018 to create a jazz studies program. “We still live in the greatest country in the world, and God blesses persons of color too.”

After making his fortune in retail, Hang is now focusing on politics, too. In the run-up to Brazil’s October 2018 presidential election, he urged his 2 million Facebook followers to back far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who ultimately won by a ten-point margin. (Hang went as far as threatening to leave the country if Bolsonaro’s leftist opponent, Fernando Haddad, won the race.)

Even after the election, he has continued to post live videos of himself on social media almost daily. One recent posting showed him celebrating former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s corruption conviction by dancing poolside to fireworks.

Outside of politics, Hang’s stores are thriving. Havan, the department store chain he cofounded at 24, generated a record $1.2 billion in 2017 sales, up 40% over the prior year. One ingredient in that success: “Always hire happy people; leave the unhappy ones to the competition,” Hang says.

The dermatologists have tapped into the lucrative skin care market with their multilevel marketing firm Rodan + Fields, which boasts $1.5 billion in sales and 300,000 independent “consultants” selling anti-aging creams and more. In February, they launched a new teen acne line, a throwback to their first claim to fame, acne product Proactiv.

The brand took off when the doctors created a licensing deal with infomercial company Guthy-Renker in 1995 to sell their regimen through television advertisements featuring celebrities like Jessica Simpson. The doctors sold their royalty rights in 2016, and now their full attention is on Rodan + Fields. Their goal, Rodan says, is help as many people as possible have “life-changing skin.”

An English major who reluctantly took over his grandfather’s small outerwear company in 2001, Reiss has created the “it” coat of the decade. The Canada Goose CEO marketed his down-filled jackets by giving freebies to people who spent a lot of time in the cold: Bouncers outside of nightclubs, polar explorers and attendees of cold-weather film festivals like the ones in Sundance and Toronto.

His $1,000-plus parkas are now fashion statements, staples on the streets of London, New York and Tokyo and have a strong celebrity following, including Jennifer Lopez, Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The stock has climbed threefold since its public debut two years ago; sales rose 46% to $450 million in 2018. Reiss, 45, has kept manufacturing at home as other companies moved offshore: “Making a Canada Goose parka in Canada is like making a Swiss watch in Switzerland.”

She’s just the second woman in Russian to become a billionaire and joins the ranks of the world’s wealthiest thanks to the success of her e-commerce company, Wildberries, which had $1.9 billion in revenue last year. She started the business in 2004 at age 28 in her Moscow apartment while on maternity leave from teaching. She realized how difficult it was for her and other young mothers to shop for clothes for themselves with a newborn at home. Her husband, Vladislav, an IT technician, soon joined her to help grow the business. Today Wildberries sells 15,000 brands of clothing, household products and other items and processes roughly 400,000 orders a day from 2 million daily visitors in Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.

In twenty years at Oracle, Catz, a former investment banker and now the company’s co-CEO, is often credited with leading Oracle’s aggressive acquisition strategy, including two hostile takeovers. In January 2005, Oracle acquired competitor PeopleSoft after an 18-month pursuit for $11 billion, more than double its original unsolicited bid.Three years later in April 2008, it acquired BEA Systems for $8.5 billion, a deal that also involved Carl Icahn, the billionaire corporate raider who was a BEA shareholder and pushed BEA to do the deal with Oracle. “I can’t really speak about [working with Icahn] in open session,” Catz said at a May 2019 commencement speech at the Wharton School. “It would be unladylike.”

Born to two Iraqi parents who came to Israel as refugees, Fattal began working in hotels at age 23 as a receptionist. He toiled in other jobs—bellhop, security guard, salesman—before founding his own hotel company in 1999. “From the day I went into the hotel industry, I fell in love with it,” he says. “There is a glamour to it.”

Starting a business just then in Israel would prove exceptionally tough, especially for a tourism-based one like Fattal’s. The Second Intifada conflict with the Palenstinains began in 2000 and lasted for several years. Fattal, however, thrived by targeting local, rather than international, tourists and by persuading hotel owners to switch from global brands to his more affordable one.

Today, Fattal Hotels, which went public in February 2019, owns and operates 40 locations in Israel and the Leonardo Hotels in Europe. “When you’re approaching the guests, it’s like you are on a stage. You have to be courteous, and I just always felt it was my job to maintain the atmosphere for happy people.”

At 21, Jenner is the youngest-ever self-made billionaire, earning a ten-figure fortune even earlier than Mark Zuckerberg (who joined the billionaires list at 23 in 2008). “I didn’t expect anything—I did not foresee the future,” Jenner says. “But [the recognition] feels really good. That’s a nice pat on the back.” She owns 100% of Kylie Cosmetics, the three-year-old beauty business that did an estimated $360 million in sales last year. Most of the company’s revenue comes from e-commerce. But Kylie Cosmetics also has a new deal with Ulta that put its goods in all the makeup retailer’s 1,163 U.S. stores, “so people that would never buy my products—or that aren’t my fans—can see them in person.”

A successful IPO last year was music to Ek’s ears. Spotify, the music-streaming service he founded 13 years ago, now has a $24 billion market cap. It still hasn’t had a profitable year, though; its focus is squarely on funneling cash into acquisitions. In February it announced a $340 million purchase of podcast companies Gimlet Media and Anchor FM. Ek founded Spotify in 2006 but before that, he found himself adrift as a self-made millionaire in his 20s—clubbing, driving a cherry-red Ferrari Modena—after an early stint at another Swedish tech company. “I was deeply uncertain of who I was and who I wanted to be,” Ek said in 2012. “I really thought I wanted to be a much cooler guy than what I was.”

I never intended to get this far,” said Kenny Park, whose father owned a fishing company. But he has stitched together a fortune making handbags and accessories for U.S. brands such as Michael Kors, Coach, Mark Jacobs and Alexander Wang. His Simone Accessories, named after his wife and 62% owned by Park and his family, makes some 30 million handbags, purses and wallets a year in its factories in Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and China.

His big break came in 1987 after he flew from Seoul to New York City with a sample bag. He pitched Donna Karan executives an offer to supply bags for almost 30% less than what they were paying their European suppliers, but with one caveat: a “Made in Korea” label. Reluctant at first, Donna Karan agreed to a trial order and by the next year was a key customer, one he still supplies today.

-Luisa Kroll; Forbes Staff

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