James Dean was an American actor. Though he had only starred in three major films and was just 24 years old when he died, James left behind a small fortune, but just how much was he worth?
At the time of his death, James Dean was worth USD $2 million, had around USD $100,000 in assets, and had a balance of just over USD $3,000 in his checking account. Today, the James Dean Foundation Trust makes around USD $3.23 million per year.
James Dean | Olga Popova / Shutterstock.com
To this day, James Dean is one of the highest-earning dead celebrities in history. Let’s find out how much James Dean was worth, how he made and spent his money, and what happened to his fortune when he died.
What Was James Dean Worth?
When James passed away in September of 1955 he had an estimated net worth of USD $2 million, adjusted for inflation. Considering that his first paid role, as a dancer in a Pepsi commercial, came in 1949 and earned him USD $30, that is incredibly impressive.
James’s salary for each of his films was considered fair for the time. He earned USD $1,000 per week for his role in ‘East of Eden’, USD $10,00 for his role in ‘Rebel Without a Cause’, USD $21,000 for his role in ‘Giant’.
Even though he died with a net worth of USD $2 million, that is nothing compared to what he is worth these days. Today the James Dean Foundation Trust makes USD $3.23 million — every year — and a single autograph is worth more than USD $23,000.
How Did James Dean Spend His Money?
James earned a fair amount of money for his roles in ‘East of Eden’, ‘Rebel Without a Cause’, and ‘Giant’. Though he had the money, by all accounts, James was not a frivolous spender and would often wear the same clothes for two weeks at a time.
The rising star didn’t even purchase a home but rented one instead. He rented a log cabin on 14611 Sutton Street, Sherman Oaks, California, from Nicco Romanos for USD $250 per month, including utilities.
Before that, he lived in the guest suite of Hal B. Wallis’s house. The 4,000 square foot Hollywood Hills house is an authentic 1927 Spanish home that was put on the market in 2018 for a whopping USD $3.9 million.
In spite of his infamous mood swings and odd behavior, James led an active social life that saw him dining at ‘Villa Capri’ so often that he entered through the kitchen. He also enjoyed taking women — like Ella Logan, Katy Jurado, Lilli Kardell, and Marilyn Monroe — out for expensive dinner dates.
And of course, James had a humongous passion for cars and lived most of his short life in the fast lane. His car collection included a 1949 Ford, a Czech motorbike, a 1949 Mercury Coupe, a 1921 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, a 1955 Triumph TR5, a 1953 MG, and the Porsche 550 Spyder that he died in.
What Happened to James Dean’s Money When He Died?
As we all know, the rebel without a cause died far too young but despite this, he — or rather his image and likeness — has never left.
To this day, he is an icon and his commercial value is impressive even by modern-day standards, but what happened to James’s money when he died, and where is it going today?
Evidently, James had no intention of dying young, and the fact that he did not have a will backs this statement up. As a result, intestate law came into play and James’s entire estate and financial legacy were left to his estranged father.
At the time of his death, James had around USD $100,000 in assets. He also had USD $3,256.48 in his checking account, and his father received every cent.
But this was nothing compared to the value of his likeness and image, which would turn out to be of legendary proportions.
Though nobody could have predicted just how much James would be worth, his father seemed to have an inkling and set up The James Dean Foundation Trust to protect the commercial value of his name, likeness, and image.
Celeb Worth reckons that The James Dean Foundation Trust makes around USD $3.23 million per year, or USD $269,444.44 every month.