Home Blog Forbes' Hollywood Walk Of Fame: The Richest Celebrities Of All Time – Forbes

Forbes' Hollywood Walk Of Fame: The Richest Celebrities Of All Time – Forbes

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When The Forbes 400 ranking of America’s richest people debuted in 1982, just two entertainers made the cut: Yoko Ono and Bob Hope. Back then only a net worth of $150 million was needed. In the two decades that followed, just six more squeaked on. Only three of those first eight ever became billionaires: George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey.
Then came a celebrity wealth boom: In the past eight years, 11 additional stars have hit billionaire status (though two, Kylie Jenner and Kanye West, have since dropped off). That includes eight since 2021 and three newcomers this year alone: Jimmy Buffett, LeBron James and Tiger Woods.
Driving the boom is the fact that these multi-hyphenate performers and personalities have added even more corporate titles to their resumes, becoming investors, CEOs and dealmakers, in addition to their creative work.
These ventures aren’t just just side-hustles: they’re often more lucrative than what initially made the star famous. More than half of Michael Jordan’s net worth, for example, comes from his ownership of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. Jay-Z’s fortune has more than doubled in four years thanks to two investments he’s made in liquor businesses. The bulk of Rihanna’s net worth comes from her 50% stake in Fenty Beauty. And Kim Kardashian has amassed more wealth from her SKIMs shapewear line than anything else. “I realized this is really going to be the next cycle of my career and this is what I want to focus on,” she told Forbes in 2016, when discussing some of her earliest entrepreneurial ventures.
Nearly two years after John Lennon was murdered, Ono appeared on the first Forbes 400. Her late husband’s portion of The Beatles’ music royalties, which she inherited, made up the bulk of her $150 million fortune. She also owned 250 cows in upstate New York, worth some $7.5 million, which came with lucrative tax benefits.
“If my estate is worth over $50 million, I’ll kick your ass,” Hope threatened in 1983 after appearing on The Forbes 400 with a $200 million net worth. Challenge accepted: Forbes hired an appraiser to estimate the biggest source of his wealth, his vast California real estate holdings. Turns out the funnyman was wrong—but so were we. His fortune, which also included some RCA stock and minor oil interests in Texas (he made his first million investing in oil with Bing Crosby decades earlier) was closer to $115 million, knocking him off the 1984 list, which required a minimum of $150 million.
“I don’t make culture, I sell it,” Clark told Forbes in 1996, nearly a decade after he last appeared on The Forbes 400. Though he had stopped hosting American Bandstand in 1989 after more than 30 years on-air, he was still one of America’s highest paid entertainers, earning cash from syndication of rerun episodes. Clark owned over 5 million shares of his then-publicly traded entertainment company Dick Clark Productions, worth some $70 million at the time.
“I’m a gambler,” Spielberg told Forbes in 1994, the year he became the first entertainment billionaire. “I haven’t taken a salary for almost a decade now.” Instead, he persuaded movie studios to pay for his films in return for a chunk of gross sales. We estimated his take from the 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park to be a then-record $250 million. The three-time Oscar-winning director’s movies have since grossed more than $10 billion, and he gets a slice of cash from every ticket sold at Universal theme parks thanks to hits like the Indiana Jones series.
Griffin’s game show empire included still-running hits like Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, and syndication of his own Merv Griffin Show netted him hundreds of millions of dollars. In 1987, he purchased the Beverly Hilton Hotel for $100 million, which he owned until 2003 when he sold it for a reported $130 million. He had less success with casino company Resorts International, which he bought from Donald Trump in 1988. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, twice, in 1989 and 1994.
In 1987–long before he was accused by dozens of women of sexual misconduct and sentenced (and later released) on charges of aggravated indecent assault–Cosby earned over $100 million, nearly five times as much as the nation’s top paid executive at the time, Chrysler CEO Lee Iococa. Five years later, Cosby’s net worth hit $300 million, earning him a spot on The Forbes 400. The Cosby Show was garnering 63 million viewers a week at the time, a number unheard of nowadays (the most-viewed TV show in 2022, Yellowstone, had roughly 13 million viewers). Cosby took a cut of the series’ syndication profits, plus those of its spin-off A Different World.
The talk-show host debuted on The Forbes 400 in 1995, replacing Cosby as the only African-American on the list. In 2003 she shattered another glass ceiling, becoming the first Black female billionaire. Her own broadcast success– plus launching the long-running TV careers of Dr. Phil, Rachael Ray and Dr. Oz–helped generate her early riches.
He created a universe with 1977’s Star Wars—and a lasting franchise, netting the newcomer director and writer some $25 million from the film itself and hundreds of millions more from ticket and merchandise sales over the ensuing decades. But Jedis and lightsabers aren’t the only things Lucas has produced: He helped pioneer some of the first digital film studios through his company LucasFilm. Disney bought the production house for over $4 billion in 2012.
The Harry Potter author had already become a billionaire by the time Rowling had written five of the seven best-selling fantasy franchise’s novels (everything but Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows) and only three of its seven blockbuster movie adaptations had hit theaters. At the time she was one of the best-selling (and highest-paid) authors in the world, going neck-and-neck with James Patterson. Then came the first Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park, which opened in 2010. Rowling fell off Forbes’ billionaires rankings in 2012, due to high U.K. taxes and a $160 million donation to charity.
The hoops legend became the first billionaire athlete in 2014. He earned over $90 million playing 15 years in the NBA—but has made much more off-court: $1.8 billion pretax from his partnerships with Nike and others. His biggest score: buying the Charlotte Hornets. He purchased a majority stake in the NBA franchise in 2010, when it was valued at $175 million; the team is now valued at $1.7 billion.
Forbes named Jenner the youngest self-made billionaire ever at age 21, a title that seemed confirmed when she sold 51% of Kylie Cosmetics to beauty giant Coty in January 2020 at a $1.2 billion valuation. But public filings from the deal exposed a web of lies that helped push her off the billionaires list. Turns out, her “momager” Kris Jenner likely held a stake—and the brand was much smaller and far less profitable than the Jenners led Forbes and others to believe.
Hip-hop’s first billionaire has more than doubled his fortune in just four years, thanks to stakes in Uber and Block (on whose board he sits) as well as artworks by Jean-Michel Basquiat. His biggest sources of wealth are his two booze lines. LVMH purchased a 50% stake in his champagne brand, Armand de Brignac, in 2021, and Bacardi bought a majority of his stake in cognac company D’usse this January.
The reality star turned business executive launched KKW Beauty in 2019, and sold 20% of the direct-to-consumer cosmetics company to Coty for $200 million. The brand has since closed and been replaced by SKKN by Kim, a luxury skincare collection. Most of Kardashian’s current net worth comes from her shapewear line SKIMS, which was valued at $3.2 billion in 2022 by investors such as hedge fund billionaire Stephen Mandel and VC billionaire Josh Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s brother-in-law.
Perry has had his hands in more than 1,000 episodes of TV, plus roughly four dozen movies and plays. He brought in at least $1.4 billion in pretax income between 2005 and 2021 from productions, entertainment company Tyler Perry Studios and a content deal with ViacomCBS that nets him $150 million a year. He owns two planes and real estate in Atlanta, New York, Wyoming and Los Angeles—he famously lent one of his homes there to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle when they stepped down as senior members of the British royal family.
His fortune was largely built on a $1.5 billion deal with Adidas, which he partnered with to produce and distribute his sneaker and fashion line Yeezy. It all came crashing down last October, when West made repeated antisemitic comments and dared Adidas to drop him. The athleticwear giant did just that, pulling the plug on their venture and following similar moves from West partners Gap and Balenciaga. Without Adidas and others, West, who goes by Ye, dropped from the three-comma club.
Rihanna has two billion dollar brands: cosmetics company Fenty Beauty and lingerie brand Savage X Fenty. A popular makeup brand, Fenty Beauty is her joint-venture with luxury goods giant LVMH, which said the brand’s revenues doubled n 2022. Forbes estimates Rihanna has a 30% stake in Savage x Fenty, which was valued at $3 billion when it was reportedly considering an IPO over a year ago.
The director behind The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit franchises earned millions from his movies. But he didn’t break ten figures until last year, when Jackson’s visual effects company Weta Digital sold a portion of its assets to game maker Unity Software. Jackson and his partner own 60% of the company; the $1.6 billion deal netted him $600 million in cash and $375 million in stock in the public company.
The Margaritaville mogul built a fortune through decades of touring and music royalties. Another chunk comes from Buffett’s global licensing operation, Margaritaville Holdings, that stamps the Buffett brand on hundreds of beachy-themed restaurants, resorts, casinos and branded products, including apparel and pickleball sets.
One of the world’s highest paid athletes, James has made hundreds of millions on the court–and even more off of it. He’s banked millions endorsing brands like Nike, AT&T, PepsiCo and Walmart. Even savvier: He has taken equity in companies like the growing Blaze Pizza chain and Fenway Sports Group, owner of the Boston Red Sox. Then there’s the Spring Hill Company, which runs a marketing agency, an entertainment company and a platform for athletes–enough to keep the billionaire baller busy when—or if—he ever decides to retire from playing.
Woods, the only other athlete (besides James) to become a billionaire while still playing, has hauled in some $1.7 billion over three decades from golf tournament winnings and endorsements. He was the 15th highest-paid athlete last year, having raked in $68 million. His investments include homes in Florida, a golf course design company and a mini golf chain.

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