'Bling Empire' matriarch Anna Shay has passed away: 'Her impact on our lives will be forever missed'

Life guru and reality star Anna Shay gathered quite an impressive following since 'Bling Empire's' premiere

 Anna Shay attends the season 2 launch celebration party for Netflix's "Bling Empire" on May 12, 2022 in Los Angeles, California
(Image credit: Rodin Eckenroth/Getty)

Fans were shocked to learn that Netflix star Anna Shay passed away on Monday, June 5, 2023, at 62 years old.

Earlier this year, the streamer revealed that Bling Empire was canceled, but no one expected this type of upsetting news to follow. A family statement read: "It saddens our hearts to announce that Anna Shay, a loving mother, grandmother, charismatic star, and our brightest ray of sunshine, has passed away at the early age of 62 from a stroke. Anna taught us many life lessons on how not to take life too seriously and to enjoy the finer things. Her impact on our lives will be forever missed but never forgotten."

Her co-stars, including Kelly Mi Li and Kevin Kreider, took to Instagram to share their condolences. "RIP @annashay93 💔💔💔 you are truly one of a kind and we will miss you forever," Mi Li wrote. Kreider added, "You never know when your last goodbye will be. So unexpected and wished when I saw you last for lunch I would have taken a moment to smell the roses and had one last adventure with you."

There might be plenty of shows like Bling Empire, but there isn't a cast member that can take the place of the inimitable Anna Shay, matriarch, adviser and a source of endless pearls of wisdom.

All about Anna Shay, Netflix's beloved 'Bling Empire' matriarch

Born on December 31, 1961, Anna Shay was 62 years old. All of the other Bling Empire cast members—including Kelly Mi Li, Kevin Kreider and Kim Lee—were much younger than the show's head honcho, so it's no surprise that she was everyone's go-to for advice. (Well, maybe not Christine's go-to...)

She is known for stellar clap-backs and endless words of wisdom, but she revealed to OprahMag.com that she valued her privacy. Things changed when she signed up for a Netflix reality show, naturally.

"I'm really quite shy, so it was hard. I never thought about doing this, especially at my age," she revealed to the outlet. 

All thanks to friend Jeff Jenkins, the show's producer, Shay originally thought she was going to help him behind the scenes on an upcoming project. Jenkins clearly had other ideas in mind.  

“I think he's an amazing producer, and an incredible friend. And when he said, ‘Anna, let's work together. I would love to work with you,’ I was so thrilled. I was like, ‘I would love to work with you too.’ And that was it. The next thing I know, I'm in front of a camera," she told Town & Country

Who was Anna Shay's father?

Anna is the daughter of late American billionaire businessman Edward Shay, the founder of Pacific Architects and Engineers (PAE), and Japanese-Russian mother Ai Oizumi Shay.

In an interview with O, The Oprah Magazine, Anna said her parents are her heroes: “My father, mother, and son. My parents are my heroes because they have taught me values, morals, honor, respect, loyalty, and principles. These things are rare qualities today."

What is Anna Shay's net worth?

Anna Shay’s net worth is reported to be approximated at $600 million, making her one of the richest cast members on Bling Empire. But considering how she's one of the main stars of Netflix's hit reality show—which now has a Bling Empire New York spin-off on the way, we're certain that mind-boggling number has gone up. 

The Shay family's money has been linked to some of the "ugliest aspects" of the Vietnam War. According to NBC, which cited research published by the University of Texas at Dallas, the CIA hired Anna's father's company to build interrogation facilities in South Vietnam in 1964. 

Who is Anna Shay's son, Kenny Kemp?

Anna Shay's son is 29-year-old Kenny Kemp. While there's not much known about him, Kenny is the proud owner of a "collection of bongs worth half a million dollars," according to Buzzfeed News. Although he did make a brief appearance in season 1 of the Netflix series, we don't see much of Kenny afterward. 

Considering her family's statement considered Anna "a loving mother, grandmother, charismatic star," it's possible that Kenny has a family of his own.

Who are Anna Shay's ex-husbands?

Anna has been married and divorced four times, all of which she says were amicable breakups. However, she has not made any of the names of her ex-husbands known to the media, valuing her privacy. She did hint in season three that she was open to the idea of finding a husband number five.

What is Anna Shay's ethnic background?

Anna Shay is Japanese, Russian and American. Her mother, Ai Oizumi Shay, was part Japanese and part Russian, while her father, Edward Shay, was a white American from the South Side of Chicago.

What did Anna Shay do for a living?

In 2006, Anna and her younger brother Allen sold their father's business for $1.2 billion. While he was alive, her father never wanted her to work but despite this, she has done a lot of philanthropy. She previously served as a board member for the George Lopez Foundation, which raises awareness about kidney disease and organ donation. She has also worked for the Shay Foundation, a program focusing on education, arts, performing arts and music, which was founded by her late parents. 

Anna Shay and Kevin Kreider's relationship

Some fans of the show might have become confused by how close these two seemed to be following season one. After all, who can forget Anna casually changing in front of everyone (including Kevin) during the shopping session at her house? But if you thought there was something romantic going on or that Anna could be trying to buy Kevin's friendship or loyalty, fear not—this is classic Anna Shay. 

Money is clearly no object for our TV hero and it seems that Anna simply likes to see her loved ones happy— that included buying Kevin some stylish new clothes. (Remember how priceless his reaction was?) If you need more proof, just know that Anna didn't even realize she had been paid for the Netflix show and only went to collect the checks when someone told her she had to. She saved the money to have a party with the crew. So sweet! 

As for her other castmates, Anna is also close with Kane and Chèrie. "Kane, Chèrie, and Chèrie's daughter, J'adore," she told People when asked who she had formed real friendships with. "I didn't know them before the show." This might get awkward now Chèrie seemingly had a bit of drama with the cast of the show and is likely gone from the show for good but we bet they will remain close in private.

See Anna Shay in the two seasons of Bling Empire, streaming on Netflix. 

Mariana Cerqueira

Mariana is Editor of My Imperfect Life. She has previously worked for titles including woman&home and Goodto, covering all aspects of women’s lifestyle — from beauty and fashion to wellness and travel. She was nominated for AOP Digital Journalist of the Year in 2020, and for New Digital Talent of the Year at the 2016 PPA Digital Awards. She’s mildly obsessed with reality TV (Love Island memes included) and spends far too much time checking her horoscope and figuring out the perfect curly hair routine.

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