This is a guest post. Andy H writes for Bankling, a personal finance site, which contains both a blog, and a tools section that contains resources like the best online CD rates, the best online savings account rates, an online mortgage payment calculator, and more.
Have you wondered how celebrities are faring during this financial crisis? Some current financial problems for celebrities include being ripped off by the likes of Bernard Madoff, endorsement company failings and fans who can’t spare the change to view a new movie or to purchase that new CD or Apple computer. How will this flailing economy affect the list of top ten billionaire celebrities in 2009? The following list is based upon several Forbes’ listings including their Top 100 Celebrities for 2008, the The 20 Richest Women In Entertainment for 2007 and the Celebrity Billionaires list for 2008. We discovered that, although Oprah comes in last on this list, she is head and shoulders above any other celebrity other than J.K. Rowling, who comes in at $1 billion current net worth for her work as the Harry Potter author.
- Bill Gates: Bill Gates’ story is well known, even among folks who don’t use computers or Microsoft products. He began building computers in a garage, and went on to create an empire when he founded Microsoft with Paul Allen. Gates ushered in the era of the computer celebrity, and his wealth has earned him the “richest person in the world” title for fifteen consecutive years. Time magazine named Gates as one of the 100 people who most influenced the twentieth century, and Gates has gone on to become an influential philanthropist as well. Although Gates no longer holds the title of the wealthiest person in the world, his current net worth equals $58 billion.
- Michael Bloomberg: Michael Bloomberg managed to get much richer during 2008. In March 2008, Bloomberg’s net worth was listed as $11.5 billion by Forbes in their Celebrity Billionaires list. However, by September 2008, this man’s net worth was listed as $20 billion and rising in Forbes’ 400 Richest Americans list. At the same time, Bloomberg campaigned for an amendment to New York City’s term limits law, allowing him to run for a third term in 2009. But, his wealth also provides room for his philanthropic efforts, including the donation of over $300 million to Johns Hopkins University, where he served as the chairman of the board from 1996 to 2002.
- Steve Jobs: Jobs is the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Apple Inc. and the former CEO of Pixar Animation Studios. Like Gates, Jobs is a computer celebrity, but his Apple career always remained a step or two behind the Microsoft strategy. Jobs currently faces a tax issue, where he accumulated a taxable income of $20,000,000 that he did not report in 2001. And, on July 1, 2008 a $7 billion class action suit was filed against several members of the Apple Board of Directors for revenue lost due to the alleged securities fraud. Finally, Apple shares continue to fluctuate with news about Jobs’ health issues. He currently is worth $5.4 billion.
- Giorgio Armani: This Italian fashion designer has been noted for his menswear designs. Today, his popularity is based upon his clean, tailored lines. He is an acclaimed celebrity, and celebrities love his clothing. Ironically, Armani enjoyed a jump in popularity when PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) pressured Armani to discontinue the use of animal fur in his designs in 2007. However, his 2008 lines included clothing with even more fur, including rabbit-fur coats for babies and children. Despite flaunting his designs in PETA’s face, Armani enjoys an annual turnover of over $1 billion and his personal fortune is worth $5 billion.
- Sir Richard Branson: This industrialist billionaire celebrity began his career at age 16 when he published a magazine called Student. In 1972, he started a chain of record stores named Virgin Records and the rest is history. Branson formed Virgin Atlantic Airways in 1984, launched Virgin Mobile in 1999, Virgin Blue in Australia in 2000 and Virgin Galactic in 2004. The latter business is designed to take the public into space if they desire a trip among the stars and can pay the price of a $200,000 ticket. Branson’s flamboyant lifestyle and extravagant assets have earned his celebrity status and his wealth. is estimated at $4.4 billion.
- Ralph Lauren: Born Ralph Rueben Lifshitz to Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants, Lauren began his fashion career by selling ties to his classmates. His vision was to become a millionaire, and – to help his fate – his brother, Jerry, changed the surname to Lauren when the boys were teenagers. Lauren stumbled into fashion design when he began to design neckties for men with the “Polo” label. He purchased the name from his backer, Norman Hilton, and grew that name and his designs into a billion-dollar business. Lauren lives like a celebrity, including a piece of life that remains hidden from the press. His net worth for his efforts equals, currently, $4.2 billion.
- George Lucas: Lucas is the celebrity who has created celebrities through his films such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Lucas originally was attracted to cars and motor racing, but a near-fatal accident just before high school graduation pushed him into a community college environment where he became enamored with film. Later, he would combine his love for cars and film into the Oscar-nominated low-budget American Graffiti. In 200, Forbes estimated the lifetime revenue generated by the Star Wars franchise at nearly $20 billion. Lucas and his films have become so popular that he remains independent with an estimated worth of about $3.9 billion.
- Steven Spielberg: Spielberg is one of the most powerful and influential figures in the motion picture industry. As a film director, screenwriter and producer, Spielberg has created a legacy that influenced Time to list him as one of the 100 Most Important People of the [20th] Century and Life named him the most influential person of his generation. His movies, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Jaws, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Jurassic Park all broke box office records. Unadjusted gross receipts for all Spielberg-directed films exceeds $8.5 billion worldwide. Known as a celebrity among Hollywood celebrities, Spielberg currently is worth approximately $3 billion.
- Donald Trump: Not content with his role as a business magnate and real-estate developer, Trump expanded his empire as he infiltrated society in his roles as a television personality and an author. Although economic downturns have effected Trump’s fortunes in the past, he is not past using junk bonds to turn that fortune around. His business sense seems innate, and his popularity as a television personality on his show, The Apprentice. Additionally, Trump is a two-time Emmy-Award nominee for his roles in various films. Although serious about his empire, he seems to enjoy his role as the subject of comedians, flash cartoon artists, and online caricature artists. Why should he mind? His net worth currently equals $3 billion.
- Oprah Winfrey: Born to a poor family in rural Mississippi, Oprah began her career as a co-anchor for a local evening news program. Now, she’s far and away the richest female celebrity in the world. Her television talk show, her magazine and business deals such as Harpo productions have shot her to the top. She also signed a deal for the Oprah Winfrey Network in partnership with Discovery Communications in January 2008, and that project is slated to debut this year. However, her $55 million deal with XM Satellite Radio may have seen better days. Despite these downturns, it is estimated that her net worth equals $2.5 billion.