Stan Lee, arguably one the most famous American comic book writers of all time, has recently passed away at the age of 95, yet he was reportedly only worth $50 million.
In the wake of the death of iconic comic book legend Stan Lee, many in his grieving legion of fans have been shocked to learn that the creator did not leave behind a whopping fortune. $50 million might sound like a lot to you and me, but for someone who single-handedly changed the way that comic books and their respective movies are appreciated today, followers would expect his net worth to be much more substantial.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Lee was estimated to be worth between $50 to $70 million which seems like peanuts compared to the Star Wars creator George Lucas’s net worth, which, in shocking contrast, is estimated at over $5 billion.
The news of Lee’s relatively low net worth is even more perplexing considering that, according to The New York Times, back in 2005, there was talk about the comic book creator allegedly receiving a payment of $10 million from Marvel Comics. The payment was made as a settlement in regards to a provision in his contract which entitled him to 10 percent of all profits and royalties from the TV and movie adaptations of his comic book characters. In 2009, the money reportedly kept rolling in when the Disney corporation purchased Marvel for $4 billion and as the role of chairman emeritus of Marvel, Lee was said to be receiving a pretty sweet annual salary of $1 million.
However, there were hints that Lee’s wealth was not what it seemed. In 2012, he gave an interview to CNN when The Avengers was released. Lee spoke about his personal wealth and said that he didn’t receive any of the profits from the popular Marvel movies featuring his characters. According to Forbes, as of last year, Marvel superhero movies have generated over $12 billion.
“I hate to admit this, but I do not share in the movie’s profits,” Lee told CNN. “I just share in the interviews, in the glamour, in the people saying, ‘Wow, I love that movie, Stan’ — but I’m not a participant in the profits.”
But while talk of Lee’s lack of enormous wealth has been buzzing since his passing, there is one person who seemed not too bothered by it before his death, and that was Lee himself. When asked about his wealth, Lee never gave any indication of bitterness or resentment. In fact, when he was once compared to George Lucas’s net worth after Lucasfilm was sold to Disney, Lee responded that it was a completely different situation. The comic book creator pointed out that Lucas did everything himself while Lee worked for a publisher.
He was also known for commenting that he didn’t care for money, wealth, or status.
Lee also always spoke gratefully about his career and the opportunities that he had to do the work that he loved so dearly.
“I always got the highest rate, whatever Martin paid another writer, I got at least that much,” Lee was quoted as saying in another interview. “It was a very good job. I was able to buy a house on Long Island. I never dreamed I should have $100 million or $250 million or whatever that crazy number is… All I know is that I created a lot of characters and enjoyed the work I did.”
There is no doubt that the dynamic characters and fascinating worlds that he created will continue to inspire new generations of fans for lightyears to come and the legend that he leaves behind is rich beyond imagination. Rest in peace, Stan Lee.