Russell Simmons Net Worth, Bio, Income, and Earnings

What is Russell Simmons’ net worth and salary?

Russell Simmons is an American record executive and entrepreneur who has a net worth of $10 million. Russell Simmons is probably best-known for co-founding Def Jam Recordings, the record label that would popularize many early rap artists. Russell co-founded the label with Rick Rubin in 1984. Mr. Rubin had recently started a record label from his college dorm room, and the two acquaintances decided to form a partnership. They soon signed T La Rock & Jazzy Jay, LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, Slayer, Oran “Juice” Jones, and Public Enemy, among others to their label.

Russell Simmons later sold his portion of Def Jam Recordings to Universal Music Group for $120 million. He continued to remain influential in Def Jam’s subsidiary labels, and subsequently launched three very popular clothing lines, Phat Farm, Argyleculture, and American Classics. Through his company Rush Communications, Inc., he also controls a production company for film, and another for television, a management company, a magazine, an advertising agency, and owns a large portion of the hip-hop focused website, Global Grind.

Although this entrepreneur’s career has been undoubtedly successful, his life has also been marred by controversy. Serious allegations of sexual misconduct and even sexual assault have plagued his public reputation in recent years. At least one of the allegations include rape, though he has denied all charges. These allegations surfaced in the wake of the #MeToo movement, a social movement against sexual harassment and assault. Multiple women accused Simmons of sexual misconduct, including rape, spanning over three decades. The alleged incidents were said to have occurred from the mid-1980s through to the 2010s. Some of the women who came forward included publicist Kelly Cutrone, screenwriter Jenny Lumet, and model Keri Claussen Khalighi. Simmons consistently denied all accusations, stating that all his relations had been consensual. The allegations led to significant personal and professional repercussions for Simmons, including stepping down from his businesses. HBO also removed his name from the “All Def Comedy” series, and a planned book was cancelled. Despite his denials, these accusations have cast a long shadow over Simmons’s career.

Is Russell Simmons Broke?

In June 2023, Russell’s daughter Aoki Simmons posted a series of screenshotted Whatsapp conversations with her father to Instagram, several of which seemed to imply that he was “broke,” had lost an enormous amount of money to his ex-wife and was generally experiencing some sort of financial problems. If true, this would be an unbelievable financial fall from grace for a person who was at one time a titan of several industries with a net worth easily of several hundred million dollars. Certainly Russell’s financial situation has not been helped by his sexual misconduct allegations that have rendered him somewhat of a pariah in various business and entertainment circles. We went into much greater detail on Russell Simmons’ supposed financial issues in this article, but here some of the major points:

According to the screenshots shared by Aoki Simmons, Russell appears to say he was “literally broke“… and that ex-wife Kimora Lee Simmons had “stolen my money and the love of my kids…

Later he claimed Kimora and her current husband, former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner, had taken:

“…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.

Russell Simmons Net Worth, Bio, Income, and Earnings

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Early Life

Russell Simmons was born in the Queens borough of New York on October 4th of 1957. He was raised in Maryland by his father, a public school administrator, and his mother, a parks administrator. Simmons has stated that during his upbringing, drug use was widespread in his neighborhood. He became involved in the criminal lifestyle that surrounded the drug trade from a young age and took drugs himself. Although his father tried to encourage Russell to find honest, legitimate jobs, the boy was more interested in participating in gang culture. This continued until one of his fellow gang members was murdered.

Russell Simmons decided that he should take school more seriously and enrolled in the City College of New York in Harlem. While he was studying sociology, Russell connected with several pioneers of the hip-hop movement, including Kurt Walker and Eddie Cheeba. Upon hearing the latter perform, Russell knew that he would focus on making hip-hop popular throughout his life.

Early Career

Russell Simmons connected with Kurt Walker to create a single called “Christmas Rappin.” Through shrewd promoting decisions, Russell Simmons managed to negotiate a record deal through the label Blow. After the single sold 500,000 copies, Simmons dropped out of college to fully pursue opportunities in music. Simmons’ younger brother, Joseph, was also heavily involved in the blooming hip-hop movement. He and two friends had formed a group, and Russell Simmons helped them produce various tracks. He would later help the group, which would eventually become known as Run-DMC, negotiate a record deal. One year later, Russell Simmons met a producer named Rick Rubin, who had already started Def Jam Records. Russell Simmons was brought on board as an equal partner, and the two producers helped a 16-year-old LL Cool J record the label’s first release. This release ultimately led to a distribution deal with Columbia, helping put Def Jam Records on the map.

Russell Simmons Net Worth, Bio, Income, and Earnings

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Although LL Cool J helped Def Jam take its first steps towards success, later signings proved to be even more profitable. The Beastie Boys became a worldwide phenomenon when they released Licensed to Ill through Def Jam. After many other major success stories, Rick Rubin left the label in 1988. Six years later, Rusell Simmons sold half of the label to Polygram for $33 million. Two years afterward, Rick Rubin sold his shares in the company for $120 million to Universal Music Group. In 1999, Simmons sold the remainder of Def Jam to Seagram for $130 million. Def Jam continues to exert incredible influence over the hip-hop genre.

Expanding His Media Influence

Even before the sale of Def Jam Records, Simmons was expanding his media influence. He started a production company called Simmons Lathans Media Group and helped create shows like The Def Comedy Jam. He also established Rush Communications, Inc. This conglomerate contains 10 businesses and three non-profit organizations. Through Rush Communications, Simmons co-produced the Eddie Murphy film The Nutty Professor.

Clothing Lines

Russell Simmons started three clothing lines; Phat Farm, ArgyleCulture, and Tantris. Phat Farm became immensely popular as a result of the growing hip-hop movement and was sold to Kenwood in 2004 for $140 million. ArgyleCulture was aimed at millennial men, while Tantris focused on yoga apparel.

Further Business Ventures

In 2013, Russell Simmons founded Unirush LLC, a company that provided pre-paid debit cards to low-income individuals. In 2017, this company was sold to the Green Dot Corporation for $147 million. Rush Communications became involved in a vast range of other business ventures, including energy drink companies, websites, and book publishing. Russell used the latter to publish various self-help books, such as Do You! and 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success.


In 1999, Russell Simmons became a vegan. He is outspoken about matters related to animal rights and supports various groups that fight to end animal suffering. In 2015, he released a book called The Happy Vegan: A Guide to Living a Long, Healthy, and Successful Life.

Sexual Assault Allegations

In 2017, a model named Keri Claussen Khalighi accused Russell Simmons of raping her in 1991. Khalighi was 17 at that time. This was the first of many allegations that were eventually aimed at Simmons. Writer Jenny Lumet, daughter of Sidney Lumet, also accused Russell Simmons of raping her, again pointing to an incident in 1991.

This time, Simmons stopped playing a leadership role in all of his businesses. Several companies, including HBO, made moves to distance themselves from the entrepreneur. Before 2017 could come to a close, The Los Angeles Times had published five separate accounts of women who had been the victim of sexual misconduct or sexual assault at the hands of Simmons. The New York Times soon followed with a further four accounts from new women, including more rape allegations.

In the end, a total of 13 women came forward with these allegations. Russell Simmons denied everything, sold his assets, and relocated to Bali. At least one of his accusers suggested that Simmons chose Bali because the nation doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the United States.

Kimora Lee Marriage and Divorce Settlement

Russell Simmons married Kimora Lee in 1998. They actually met when she was 17 and he was 35. The couple had two daughters together before divorcing in 2008.

According to the terms of their divorce settlement Russell paid Kimora an undisclosed settlement to separate their marital assets. Soon after divorcing he produced funds for her to acquire an $8.5 million Beverly Hills mansion. He was also ordered to pay Kimora $40,000 per month in child support, $20,000 per child.

Real Estate

In 2012 Russell listed his longtime Manhattan penthouse for $11 million. He lowered the price of the 7,500 square foot property a number of times before finally accepting an undisclosed amount. Immediately prior to the sale he had been asking $5.5 million.

In 2013 Russell paid $5.9 million for a home in Los Angeles. He sold this home in August 2018 for $8.125 million.

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