While most would suspect that the celebrities on our list have amassed millions of dollars, many might be surprised at just how many millions they’ve managed to earn. Many celebrities on our list have used their celebrity to move into business or negotiate significant salaries as a result of their mainstream appeal. As a result, the men and women on our list have managed to accrue fortunes that’s seemingly unfathomable. We covered shockingly rich celebrities once before, so let’s take a look at even more celebrities with more money than you probably realized…
10. Steven Spielberg – $3 billion
While you can certainly debate whether Steven Spielberg will go down as the best director in the history of cinema, there’s no debating that he’s one of the very richest. Spielberg got his start after a studio executive saw one of his early short films. He was offered a 7-picture directing contract and became one of the youngest ever to sign a longterm deal with a major Hollywood studio. After completing his 7-picture deal, Spielberg was offered the chance to direct Jaws. It would go on to be a massive success, grossing more than $470 million worldwide. Jaws was just the first of many box office hits, with Spielberg helming additional films like Saving Private Ryan, Minority Report, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and of course, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jurassic Park. Those movies paved the way for a total worldwide sales of $9.3 billion.
It wasn’t simply the success of his movies that led Spielberg to such a staggering net worth. He also had the business acumen to be one of the founders of DreamWorks Studios. As a result, Spielberg is only rivaled by his friend (and frequent collaborator) George Lucas as one of the richest directors of all-time.
9. Jessica Alba – $200 Million
An actress whose last notable role was nearly four years ago, it’s hard to believe that Jessica Alba has managed to make so much money. Alba started acting as a child, appearing in television commercials before landing a role on the Nickelodeon comedy series The Secret World of Alex Mack. Alba soon started landing more prominent roles, and in 2000 she got her big break, landing the lead in the James Cameron project Dark Angel. Playing the genetically engineered super-soldier, Max Guevara, Alba received a Golden Globe nomination and a Teen Choice Award.
In 2008, Alba had her first child, Honor, which inspired her to create a company that provided safer products for children. A sickly child, Alba was debilitated by various ailments, and once her own child was born, a laundry detergent recommendation led to Alba breaking out in welts. Fearful for Honor’s health, Alba helped found The Honest Company, which promised to give parents peace of mind. It took Alba nearly three years to find suitable business partners, but eventually she did. The Honest Company is now valued at $1 billion.
8. Judge Judy – $290 million
One of the biggest stars of daytime TV, Judge Judy (whose real name is Judy Sheindlin) has managed to command a staggering yearly salary of $47 million. Her negotiation tactics may be even more surprising than her salary. According to Sheindlin, every three years she renegotiates her contract by going to dinner with the president of CBS. She carries an envelope with her, stating her salary demands, which she refuses to budge from.
As a result of 10 million people tuning in to her show (on average), Sheindlin has a significant amount of leverage over the studio. Judge Judy airs “260 original episodes per year, (and) is sold internationally in 150 countries” while bringing in $244.7 million in ad revenue for CBS in 2016. So… yeah. We think she’s probably worthy of making such contract demands.
7. Keanu Reeves – $350 million
Although Keanu Reeves isn’t known as the most compelling or dramatic actor, he’s managed to have a wildly successful career as an action star. It wasn’t the most likely of career paths. Reeves broke into the spotlight with Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, a comedy where Reeves played a dim-witted slacker. He slowly transitioned into more action related films, starring in Point Break alongside Patrick Swayze. However, it wasn’t until Speed that Reeves really became a household name.
Many might think that Reeves was a shoe-in for the role of Neo in The Matrix. The truth is that the part was initially offered to Will Smith, Brad Pitt, and Val Kilmer, who all turned down the role. And it’s in large part because of the Matrix trilogy that Reeves has such a staggering net worth. As the lead, Reeves not only commanded a $10 million fee but also signed on for a sizable percentage of box office sales. The Matrix trilogy would go on to gross more than $1.5 billion.
6. Gloria Estefan – $500 million
One of the most successful musicians of all-time, Gloria Estefan boasts an estimated 100 million records sold worldwide, with 31.5 million in the United States alone. Estefan began her singing career in 1977 with the band Miami Sound Machine.
From 1977 to the present, Estefan has released 24 albums, which have led to 38 #1 hits. Not just a commercial success, Estefan has won seven Grammy Awards. One of the reasons for her massive net worth is her marriage to fellow Miami Sound Machine member Emilio Estefan, and their ability to create music for the burgeoning Latino diaspora in the United States.
5. Martin Lawrence – $110 million
Although Martin Lawrence has seemingly disappeared from Hollywood, he managed to amass a surprising fortune as a comedian/actor. In the ’90s, Lawrence used his stand-up career to serve as a platform to create the sitcom Martin, one of the few shows with a predominantly black cast on network television. It would go on to be one of Fox’s highest rated shows during its time on the air.
Lawrence branched into feature films and co-starred in several box office hits like Nothing to Lose and Big Momma’s House. Soon, Lawrence began commanding a base salary of $10 million per film. By the time he starred alongside Will Smith in Michael Bay’s Bad Boys, he was demanding $20 million to play the role. It turns out Lawrence was right to demand such a high salary, as the film and its sequel grossed more than $400 million.
4. Ray Romano – $120 million
When David Letterman retired, Ray Romano told the audience how much he owed the late night legend. Romano was a struggling comic with a young family when he performed on The Late Show. Soon after his performance, his life changed when Letterman’s production company, Worldwide Pants, called him up seeking to develop a sitcom. That sitcom, of course, would become Everybody Loves Raymond. Romano would become the highest paid actor on television, at the time, commanding $1.6 million per episode. The final season of Everybody Loves Raymond saw Romano take home a whopping $50 million.
After the show ended, Romano would go on to voice Manfred in Ice Age, a massively successful franchise that’s grossed billions of dollars. He also continues to work steadily and has recently garnered acclaim for his more dramatic turns in the show Parenthood and the Oscar-nominated comedy The Big Sick.
3. Tyler Perry – $400 million
One of the most fascinating stories of rags to riches in the entertainment industry belongs to Tyler Perry. Struggling to overcome the abuse he faced as a child, Perry used writing as a coping mechanism. He moved to Atlanta and managed to get his play I Know I’ve Been Changed performed at a community theater. Perry financed the play with his life savings. The reviews of the play weren’t good, but Perry was undeterred. He continued to work (and rework) the play, and eventually developed a loyal and large African American following. Perry used the ticket sales from his play to help fund his first film: Diary of a Mad Black Woman. With a budget of $5.5 million, Perry’s first film grossed more than $50 million.
As a result of his role as a producer in his own films, Perry retains full copyright ownership under the corporate name Very Perry Films with distribution from LionsGate. He’s also managed to negotiate a lucrative television deal with TBS, which will pay him $200 million over 10 years. Overall, Tyler Perry Studios has produced more than 16 films, which have grossed more than $765 million while also creating seven television shows.
2. Dr. Dre – $740 million
Andre Young, better known as Dr. Dre, was one of the founders of a rap group that revolutionized the music industry. He’d later amass his wealth by doing the same thing for the retail market for headphones.
Dr. Dre served as the lead producer in the rap group NWA in the late 1980s, and the group became a cultural phenomenon. Their debut album Straight Outta Compton sold more than three million units. After leaving the group in 1992, Dr. Dre released a solo album, The Chronic, which went on to go triple platinum and won him a Grammy. Dre is also famous for discovering and mentoring some of the most iconic rappers in history, most notably Eminem.
Although he’s been a massive success in the music industry, his development of Beats by Dre is what amassed him most of his fortune. Dre and his partners were smart enough to see the future in streaming services and added it to their product’s platform. In 2006, Apple bought the company for more than $3 billion – its largest acquisition ever. So while he may not be the billionaire rapper he has claimed in the past, he’s pretty darned close.
1. Celine Dion – $700 million
Another musician who has made a breathtaking amount of money is Canadian icon Celine Dion. Discovered at the age of 12 by her future husband (um, ew, by the way?) and manager, Rene Angelil, Dion released her first album in 1981 and would soon gain the world’s attention. In her illustrious career, Dion has sold over 52 million albums in the United States alone, with her most popular album Falling Into You selling 10.8 million copies. And of course, you already know that her success went to entirely new levels when she provided the theme song to the movie Titanic.
One of the major sources for her fortune is her willingness to continue to tour throughout her 40-year career. Currently, Dion commands $476,000 dollars a show while in her Vegas residency. She’s amassed more than $260 million since she started performing in Vegas in 2003. Dion has expanded into other ventures and is a part-owner of a restaurant, and an artist management company in Quebec.