ChinWook Lee quit a career working for an architecture company in South Korea to start his own business, aiming -- of all things -- to revolutionize the cosmetics industry.

Lee teamed up with dermatologists to create a BB cream, a hybrid of skincare and makeup that moisturizes the skin while evening it out at the same time. He launched the Dr. Jart+ brand in 2005, a year after founding his company, Have & Be Co. It went on to become a major global success story in this new market segment.

So much so that Estee Lauder Cos., the skincare and cosmetics powerhouse, announced last month it would buy Have & Be in its first acquisition of an Asian beauty brand. The deal, which is expected to be completed this month, makes Lee a billionaire.

“I wanted to do global business for a change,” Lee, 43, said in an interview earlier this year. Cosmetics seemed a good option, because they’re “in line with women’s desires regardless of age or nationality.”

Lee is the latest billionaire minted from the popularity of Korean beauty products, known as K-beauty. In October 2018, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. bought a minority stake in GP Club Co., best-known for its face masks, for $67 million in a deal that valued the company at $1.3 billion, turning founder Kim Jung-woong into a billionaire. Firms including Unilever NV and L’Oreal SA have also snapped up stakes in Korean cosmetics companies, bringing multimillion dollar fortunes to their founders.

The Dr. Jart+ lineup includes cosmetics produced in consultation with dermatologists, including moisturizers, cleansers and serums. Have & Be also owns the men’s grooming brand Do The Right Thing.

Estee Lauder said Nov. 18 it would buy the two-thirds of Have & Be that it didn’t already own for about $1.1 billion. The cosmetics firm first purchased a stake in the company at the end of 2015.

The two deals have helped Lee, who originally owned all the shares of Have & Be, to amass a fortune worth $1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Lee, who majored in architecture, declined to disclose how much he received from the 2015 stake sale, but Bloomberg estimates he got about $103 million. That’s based on the company’s value at the time, calculated by using the 2015 financial statements and a comparison with five publicly traded peers.

Have & Be declined to make Lee available for an interview because the most recent deal has yet to close. A Have & Be representative declined to comment on his net worth.

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