[Fox Business] Vanilla Ice built multimillion-dollar real estate empire by ‘doing nothing’

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Vanilla Ice got started in real estate 30 years ago after his success with his 1990 hit “Ice Ice Baby.” 

“I did ‘Ice Ice Baby’ when I was like 16, and then I went on the Stop the Violence tour, and then I went out with [MC] Hammer and I did all this, and it blew up really big, and we’re selling a million records a day easy and just way beyond any of my expectations,” the rapper told “Jackass” star Steve-O on a recent episode of his “Wild Ride!” podcast. 

But as the ‘90s wore on, he said he struggled to accept that his success was beginning to fade, saying he’d built up a “false sense of reality” for himself.

Luckily, during the height of his success, he bought a number of houses across the country that he had planned to stay in when he traveled.

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“I bought a bunch, and I never used them,” he told Steve-O. “I thought I’d use them while I was there. I don’t want to stay in hotels, it gets crazy. So, I bought all these homes, and then I said, ‘S—.’ I went on three years. I never saw them. I thought I’d lost money on them. I thought, ‘F—, I just blew a lot of money,’ and I go, ‘Let’s just sell them. Sell them all.’ And I sold them all,” he said.

“And they sold really quick, and I made millions for doing nothing. I didn’t even change the carpet or do – there were probably cobwebs in there. Nobody rented them out. They just sat there, and I go, ‘Holy s—, let’s go buy a bunch more of them.’ I was buying homes all over the place and still am,” he said.

Ice, whose real name is Robert Van Winkle, now has a net worth in the millions thanks in part due to his real estate acumen. 

The ’90s music icon said he buys “distressed” houses, ones with tax liens and ones that are hard to find in an internet home search. 

He said it “boils down to location, location, location. That’s still and will always be your money mark.”

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At a 2020 financial convention, Ice said, “When I got into real estate, I actually thought I was losing money because I spent money – like millions and millions – on houses,” mentioning he had homes in Los Angeles, Utah, Dallas and Miami. “Never saw one of them once. And this is how I got into real estate.”

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He continued, “I thought I was young and dumb and blew a bunch of money. So, I said, ‘Let’s sell them all, and I literally made millions. I didn’t even change the carpet or the paint.’” 

He said he eventually worked his way up from the “small ones to the big ones.” 

The rapper also ventured into reality TV in 2010 with his “The Vanilla Ice Project,” which shows the 56-year-old remodeling homes to be flipped. 

Ice told Steve-O he did his first remodeling project after Hurricane Andrew “tore my house apart and ripped the freaking roof out. I had 3 feet of water in there, and I had just finished it and paid a lot of money to the decorators and designers. But during that process, I followed them around, and I was like, ‘So, that’s how you do it.'”

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“I was like, ‘Jeez, man, that really was fun.’ I actually liked it and I actually walk by everything and take pride in it. You’re like, ‘I did that. I had all these floors put in. That was my color palate. I did that. I ripped [it] out, I put it in.’” 

He said that when he sold the home, the buyers said they didn’t want to change anything: “And I was like, ‘Oh, they like it.’”

In 2012, Ice told Fox News Magazine he likes to use earth tones, throw pillows and crown molding “to make a home cozy and inviting.” He’s also a self-proclaimed fan of “less carbon footprint stuff” and likes to use “LED lights or air conditioners that blow over a block of ice and cool your house instead of the old compressor unit” to reduce electricity use.

The rapper was raking in $800,000 a year in real estate by 2018, the New York Post reported, citing documents connected to his divorce. 

Ice told Steve-O he is focused on leaving his three daughters “generational wealth.”

“If you set up assets, which is properties that regenerate and regenerate and regenerate, then you’ll have generational wealth. That means [your kids] just have to sit back and kind of manage it, but they’ll be able to give it to their kids and grandkids.” 

“It does make money, but I enjoy myself as well,” Ice told CNBC’s “Street Signs” in 2012. “Know your markets.” 

He said at the time that he had bought the house featured in the third season of his show from a “tax auction. And if nobody’s bidding against you, and it’s an absolute auction, you can steal these homes for pennies on the dollar.” 

He added that his homes sell for “in the millions” after he renovates them. 

The rapper also said on the podcast that he never would have expected the success he achieved with “Ice Ice Baby,” which he said has currently sold more than 600 million records.

“I never did this for money,” he explained. “It took on a life of its own.” 

He said the record still sells for $3 million to $5 million per year, “sometimes more.”

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“I had a weekend that lasted about three years,” he joked at a financial convention in 2020 about his struggles after his music career fell apart. “You ride this wave … but sooner or later that wave is going to hit the shore and crash. So, instead of sitting back on the shore and getting a sunburn, swim back out there and catch another wave, and that’s what I do.”

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