When it comes to leveraging the events of her personal life and transforming them into water-cooler fodder, Rihanna is one of the best. And late in 2009, the Bajan songstress discovered that being rich did not render her impervious to financial ruin.
Rihanna started the year with $11 million in cash, and ended it with $2 million after buying a Beverly Hills mansion (which may have been used to film the second season of “Paris Hilton’s My New BFF”) and losing money on her Last Girl on Earth tour. The house was plagued with mold and water damage, and she ended up taking a $2 million bath when she finally unloaded it.
According to the 2012 lawsuit she filed in federal court and obtained by The Washington Post, Rihanna accused Gounis, accounting firm Berdon LLP, and Berdon partner Michael Mitnick of negligence and gross financial mismanagement. She claimed Gounis and Berdon charged “exorbitant” commissions (23 percent of her net income) and concealed the true nature of Rihanna’s finances to take advantage of her. She accused Gounis and the firm of hiding the fact that her tour was in the red while charging commission for managing concert finances and advising her to buy the house.
“As a result of Defendants’ acts and omissions, [Robyn Rihanna] Fenty purchased a home, even though it was inadvisable to do so and competent business managers would have advised her not to do so,” the lawsuit read.
Gounis struck back, alleging in court documents that Rihanna’s near-bankruptcy, as she characterized it, was the fault of her own profligate spending. “Peter Gounis did not leave the tour to go act in a movie, Fenty did,” the papers reportedly said.
She also alleged that Gounis failed to manage her foreign and domestic taxes — she was audited by the IRS — and failed to monitor and recover millions in unpaid royalties. She sued Gounis and Berdon for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud, among other violations.
Early Friday morning, the Twitter account Music News & Facts tweeted that Gounis had been added to nyc.gov’s missing persons list. There’s nothing to suggest that this is true; a Post review of the missing persons list for all five New York City boroughs did not show the name Peter Gounis.
It’s estimated that Rihanna is now worth roughly $43 million.
The Recording Industry Association of America announced Wednesday that Rihanna had become the first artist to surpass their 100 million digital singles threshold.
“Ballin’ bigger than LeBron,” indeed.