The 20 richest women in entertainment
These days, just about any lip-smacking starlet can land a cable reality show or become
YouTube's flavor of the week. But fame's 15 fleeting minutes can elapse quicker than it
takes to refresh a Web page. Only a bona fide superstar can parlay a moment's stardom
into a long and lucrative career. And even that's not enough to land a coveted spot on
our first-ever listing of the 20 Richest Women in Entertainment. For that, you'd need a
minimum net worth of $45 million.|
To compile the list, we scoured the music, television, film and publishing industries
to determine which female celebrities have, over the course of their careers, amassed
the greatest fortunes in entertainment. We ruled out non-working celebs who essentially
live off royalties (Barbra Streisand, for example), and we also excluded "old Hollywood"
types like Elizabeth Taylor. The list is entirely confined to today's active megastars.
Of course, the celebrities with the longest careers proved the most daunting to evaluate.
Since beginning her career in the early 1980s, Madonna has sold some 200 million albums
worldwide and starred in a string of largely disappointing films. She owns an impressive
portfolio of properties and briefly ran her own record label, Maverick, a part of Warner
Music Group. Our estimate of her net worth - $325 million - is definitely on the
Indeed, most of the women on our list cull their earnings from multimedia enterprises.
Jennifer Lopez, for example, boasts valuable perfume and fashion lines in addition to
her film and music careers; Harry Potter scribe J.K. Rowling now enjoys millions of
dollars in royalties and merchandising revenues from the incredibly successful film
adaptations of her books; and supermodel Gisele Bundchen, a fixture of Victoria's Secret
catalogs, earned her $70 million fortune not just from modeling, but also from a line of
successful sandals sold in Brazil.
The youngest women on the list? Twenty-year-old twins and former child stars Mary-Kate
and Ashley Olsen, who have converted their supporting roles on a middling 1980s sitcom
into a multimillion dollar retail empire called Dualstar Entertainment. The twins are
often credited in the media as presiding over a fortune of as much as $1 billion. Not so.
Despite Dualstar's retail sales of $1 billion, the waifish mini-moguls don't pocket all
of it. We estimate their combined net worth at around $100 million.
Britney Spears, 25, also makes the list, despite a relatively brief career that took
off only in 1999 with the release of her hit single "...Baby One More Time". Her $100
million fortune was earned largely from music - she has sold over 75 million albums to
date - but she has supplemented her income with a profitable line of perfumes and
multimillion-dollar endorsement deals.
01. Oprah Winfrey|
02. J.K. Rowling
03. Martha Stewart
05. Celine Dion
06. Mariah Carey
07. Janet Jackson
08. Julia Roberts
09. Jennifer Lopez
10. Jennifer Aniston
11. The Olsen Twins
12. Britney Spears
13. Judge Judy
14. Sandra Bullock
15. Cameron Diaz
16. Gisele Bundchen
17. Ellen DeGeneres
18. Nicole Kidman
19. Christina Aguilera
20. Renee Zellweger
The richest actress on the list is Julia Roberts, who built her estimated $140 million
fortune film by film. The Pretty Woman star was the first actress in Hollywood to
command a $20 million-per-film paycheck, a fairly common salary for male superstars
like Will Smith and Johnny Depp. Other actresses who make the list largely due to their
film fees are Nicole Kidman and Cameron Diaz. Sandra Bullock, who checks in at No. 14
on the list, supplemented movie earnings by producing the ABC sitcom The George Lopez
Show, which went into syndication last year.
Martha Stewart is the only woman on the list whose net worth fluctuates just about
every second. Her nearly $650 million fortune is based almost entirely on the 28
million shares she owns in Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. (In 2005, that stake was
worth $1 billion.) Though her brief stint in prison forced her to relinquish the chief
executive title, she still collects upwards of $2 million a year in salary and bonuses
from the firm.
Forbes' list of the 20 Richest Women in Entertainment is the subject of a one-hour
special slated to air on the E! Entertainment Channel on Jan. 20. Check your local
Methodology: Net worth estimates were arrived at by tallying the total earnings,
including salaries, record sales, tours, merchandising and royalties over the course
of a career. When relevant, we included real estate holdings, shares and other assets.
A conservative rate of return was applied, less taxes and agent fees. The list is
limited to those female celebrities active in their professional lives.
6. Mariah Carey ($225 million)
The Long Island songbird's career exploded in 1990 with her debut album released
under the guidance of Columbia Records' boss Tommy Mottola. (The two endured a
tempestuous five-year marriage before divorcing in 1998.) Her career was seriously
derailed with the 2001 release of Glitter, a critically slammed semi-autobiographic
soundtrack and movie. A year later, Columbia bought out her contract for a reported
$28 million. No one could have anticipated her extraordinary comeback in 2005 with
the bestselling The Emancipation of Mimi. To date, the pop diva has sold 160 million
by Darryle from USA|
I know I've posted about this before but it really annoys me. Mariah and her team have got to do a better job with merchandise. Besides the fact that you can't get her albums from her actual store (her CDs are purchased through Amazon) she doesn't have any of her DVDs for sale either. Then there's the fact that it's near impossible to find a Mariah... read more
(Tuesday 23 December 2014; 1:52)
||Relatable Mariah (48,737)
by Sofia from Portugal|
I find it amusing that some people think or even sugest Mariah should be more relatable. What for? So other people can like her? Would you be a fan if she was different? These diva behaviours are a part of her and we've had 25 years to get used to them. I know I did.
(Tuesday 23 December 2014; 1:45)
||Re: Mike Dawson (48,736)
by nikki from usa|
(update) Actually, I take that back. There was a line where I said she should retire because there's no way to top it. However, clearly that's where you stopped reading. That was a figure of speech to how epic Butterfly was as an album, not a literal context. I used "retire" as a metaphor throughout the entire piece to define different musical dire... read more
(Tuesday 23 December 2014; 0:35)
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