Holograms and Twitter rants, roving gospel gatherings and billion-dollar business ventures. If there’s one word that defines the lives of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West, it’s BIG.
As their nearly seven-year marriage comes to an end, here’s a look back on the uber celebrity coupling of the rapper, Yeezy king and failed presidential candidate with the sex tape survivor turned reality star who has a head for business and a passion for prison reform.
The two became pals after meeting in 2003, when Kim was an assistant to the pop star-actor Brandy and Kanye was around to record a song. Brandy, FYI, is the sister of Ray J, the guy in the leaked sex video that vaulted Kim from a C-lister to one of the hugest celebrities of her generation.
Kim and Kanye publicly came out as dating in 2012. The oldest of their four children, North, was born in June 2013, not long after Kim’s divorce from Kris Humphries (her second husband) was finalised. The over-the-top Tuscan wedding of Kim and Kanye, her third and his first, unfolded on May 24, 2014.
But before the wedding — which included pre-parties in Paris — there was the surprise proposal. Kanye rented out the San Francisco Giants’ oceanfront stadium and presented Kim with a 15-carat Lorraine Schwartz sparkler (not the one later stolen during Kim’s infamous armed robbery in Paris).
They sealed the deal at Belvedere Fort in Florence, Italy, the city where North was conceived. They paid $410,000 to rent the place built in 1590, a spokeswoman for the Florence mayor’s office told The Associated Press.
Kim walked down the aisle on the arm of step-parent Caitlyn Jenner as Andrea Bocelli sang to their 200 guests, including John Legend, Jaden Smith and Steve McQueen, the director of Kanye’s 2016 video for his single 'All Day'.
There was a wall of flowers as a backdrop, a seven-tier cake and a 224-foot marble table hoisted in by crane and put on a platform so all could see the stunning Florence skyline.
Kim wore a long-sleeve, lacy Givenchy gown designed by friend Riccardo Tisci for the ceremony.
Social media and The Wests
Social media doesn’t always go well for Kanye. He has ranted. A lot. He used it to announce his presidential bid last year, with another run announced on Election Day 2020 for 2024. For Kim, it’s the place where she sells stuff. A lot.
Most recently, it’s been the Skims shapewear and leisure line she launched last year. That’s the brand she originally called Kimono. Kim changed the name after outrage over cultural appropriation of the traditional Japanese robe.
She has used social media in defence of Kanye when he goes off the rails. And she reaches out with family photos, happy birthdays to friends and in support of her work to free prison inmates, including Alice Marie Johnson.
It was Johnson’s case that took Kim to the White House in 2018 for a meeting arranged by Jared Kushner to persuade then-President Donald Trump to commute Johnson’s drug conspiracy sentence. He did.
After donning a red MAGA hat, Kanye also made an appearance at the White House soon after Kim that year, meeting with Trump and dropping an F-bomb during a hyper monologue that, for a change, left Trump fairly speechless.
Also in 2018: Kanye stopped by TMZ headquarters to declare 400 years of slavery was a choice. It wasn’t until last year that Kim addressed her husband’s erratic behaviour and struggles with mental illness.
“I understand Kanye is subject to criticism because he is a public figure and his actions at times can cause strong opinions and emotions,” she said on Instagram. “He is a brilliant but complicated person who on top of the pressures of being an artist and a black man, who experienced the painful loss of his mother, and has to deal with the pressure and isolation that is heightened by his bipolar disorder. Those who are close with Kanye know his heart and understand his words sometimes do not align with his intentions.”
Ye and God
Kanye’s been talking about faith since his debut album, The College Dropout, in 2004. On the album’s breakout single, 'Jesus Walks', he raps: “They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus/That means guns, sex, lies, videotape/But if I talk about God my record won’t get played huh.”
Fast forward to 2019 and the birth of his born-again status and Sunday Service, gospel gatherings he has held at home in Los Angeles and around the world. They’ve been well attended by celebrities from DMX to Kenny G. Kim and her family have been right there in the mix.
Kanye’s spiritual reset culminated in his ninth studio album, Jesus is King. His faith has led him in other directions, too, like his tearful disclosure that he considered aborting North rather than going through with her birth. It was Kim, he said, who fought for their child.
He has showered his wife with jewels, a hand-painted Birkin bag, stock in blue chip companies and a stake in his own Yeezy brand. But one gift stands out: a hologram of her late father, Robert Kardashian, during her 40th birthday bash on an undisclosed island in the middle of the pandemic last October.
As Kim, family members and close friends partied beachside, hologram dad in a tan suit against a sparkly background of black and midnight blue spoke of being proud of the woman and mother she has become, particularly her studies to become a lawyer like himself, along with her support of his native Armenia.
There was also a plug for Kanye from the great beyond:
“You married the most, most, most, most, most genius man in the whole world, Kanye West.”
Yes, they were a power couple, but Kanye was successful in music before Kim came along and the two have made truckloads of money separately. Together, Forbes estimates, their combined net worth is in the $2.1 billion range. Some crunch the numbers in his favour.
Forbes said their biggest assets are independently owned and operated businesses. Kanye has made it big in shoes, and Kim rolls out beauty and attire on a regular basis. She also earned millions through the reality show that launched the family, Keeping Up with the Kardashians. It’s a show he reportedly wanted little to do with.
Kim’s sale of a 20pc stake in KKW Beauty to giant Coty for $200 million was completed this year.
There’s also real estate and the mansion the two lavishly laboured to trick out in Calabasas, California, along with their two Wyoming ranches.