How Kim Kardashian made £28m

Reality TV star, model, socialite, businesswoman, occasional actress: Kim Kardashian’s got an impressive CV and it’s made her incredibly rich. But how did she make all that cash?

Kim Kardashian has never exactly had it tough. Her father was Robert Kardashian, a top lawyer who represented American football star OJ Simpson in his 1995 murder trial. When he died in 2003 he left Kim, her sisters Kourtney and Khloé, and brother Robert, a multi-million pound trust fund.

But the 32-year-old American hasn’t rested on her inheritance, in fact, she’s massively increased it while also becoming one of the most famous faces on the planet.


From (modest) fortune to fame

There’s no getting around it, the first time Kim came to the public consciousness was when an intimate tape made with ex-boyfriend hip-hop singer Ray J became an internet sensation. Soon Kim’s face was recognisable worldwide.

Production company Vivid Entertainment bought the rights to the footage for $1 million and released the film as ‘Kim Kardashian: Superstar’ in 2007. Kardashian sued Vivid for ownership of the tape, later settling out of court for $5 million.

But her rise up the celebrity rankings truly took off with reality TV show ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’, which arrived on our TV screens, courtesy of E!, in October 2007.

By 2010 Kim was the world’s highest-earning reality star – raking in $6 million (£3.7 million) that year alone, according to International Business Times in Australia.

The show follows the lives of Kim, her sisters, mother and ex-athlete stepfather Bruce Jenner. The show’s been running ever since and in April 2012 E! signed a new three-year deal worth $50 million with the Kardashian family that will keep them on the air through to a  ninth season. It's money well spent, Kim's wedding became the most-watched show the channel has ever aired.

Then there's the spin-offs - and Kim’s been in all of them: ‘Kourtney and Kim Take New York’, ‘Khloé & Lamar’ and ‘Kourtney and Kim Take Miami’.

She’s also collected pay cheques for a variety of appearances as herself, on as a judge on ‘America’s Next Top Model’, as a contestant on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ (America’s version of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’) and hosted countless award ceremonies.

Beyond reality TV

But the TV shows only make up a small proportion of Kim’s earnings these days. Between May 2011 and May 2012 alone she is estimated to have made $18 million (£11 million). Other business interests include the DASH boutique where Kim and her sisters are co-owners, a clothing line for the retail store Bebe and her own jewellery range.

There’s also an impressive list of product endorsements and advertising deals including Cakes Va-Va-Va-Nilla cupcake mix, Sketchers Shape-ups trainers, Kotex Pantyliners, weight-loss product Quick Trim, Beach Bunny Swimwear and K Dash for QVC clothing. Inevitably, she also has a workout video: ‘Fit in your Jeans By Friday’.

And that’s not counting advertising on her website – which is read by millions each month – and sponsored tweets sent to her 17 million followers on Twitter.

Not all successful

Kim’s name doesn’t quite have the Midas touch, however. In November 2010 she and her sisters put their name to a prepaid Mastercard – the Kardashian Kard – which they claimed would teach youngsters about money management.

But the card came with some high fees and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal described the card as “predatory”.  The Kardashians decided this was publicity they didn’t need and withdrew their support.

A judge subsequently threw out a $75 million lawsuit against the sisters for backing out of the endorsement.

A wedding that actually made money

Kim’s short-lived marriage to MBA player Kris Humphries was also a big earner, at least at first. She began dating the basketball player in October 2010, got engaged in May 2011 and married in August the same year.

The wedding in Montecito, California generated $18 million in revenue, ‘Celebrity Net Worth’ magazine calculated. This included $500,000 for holding her hen night at Tao nightclub in Las Vegas; between $15 and 17 million from TV channel E! to have the exclusive deal to cover her wedding; and between $500,000 and $1 million from ‘People Magazine’ for the wedding pictures.

But 72 days later it was all over; Kardashian filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences.  The divorce is still being thrashed out now, more than a year later.

That hasn’t slowed her down though, she’s since formed a celebrity super-couple with rapper Kanye West and on New Year’s Eve announced she is pregnant with their first child - and just for good measure, she later attended a star-studded party – which papers report she was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to host.

Nice work if you can get it.