The untimely passing of 53-year-old superstar George Michael on Christmas Day was undoubtedly a shock felt around the world. Less of a shock is the tremendous wealth he left in his passing.
According to Britain’s Sunday Times, which puts out an annual “rich list” of top earners in the U.K. and Ireland, Michael’s net worth was £105 million, or around $130 million in U.S. currency.
Michael’s considerable fortune places him well within the Times’s top 50 “millionaire musicians” — where he shares company with such names as Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Elton John, and newer sensations like Adele and Calvin Harris. He falls at No. 22 on the list, just behind Phil Collins and tied with Led Zeppelin virtuoso Jimmy Page. And, for what it’s worth, he’s leaving behind even more than the late David Bowie, who died in January with an estate valued at around $100 million.
However, while it’s not shocking that Michael — who sold more than 100 million records worldwide and netted extraordinary amounts from touring and private shows for fellow wealthy peers — made huge sums of money over his life, what has been a heartwarming surprise for fans is the manner in which he chose to spend a lot of it.
Having plenty of money left over even after funding his own luxurious lifestyle, Michael gave freely and often to charitable causes — and, in most cases, requested his donations be kept anonymous. Following his death, an outpouring of stories from grateful individuals has been coming to light showing just how generous the superstar was.
The anecdotes range from large-scale to deeply personal. Michael gave millions over the years to children’s charity Childline, all the while insisting it not be publicized. A tweet from TV host Richard Osman detailed: “A woman on Deal or No Deal told us she needed £15k for IVF treatment. George Michael secretly phoned the next day and gave her the £15k.”
Another report noted that Michael anonymously gave £25,000 to a stranger in a restaurant after hearing her crying about her debt issues.
He also provided in other ways, allegedly helping out undercover at a homeless shelter and putting on a special tribute concert for the nurses who had cared for his late mother.
His caring nature popped up in unexpected ways — such as anonymously buying the piano John Lennon composed “Imagine” on and donating it to the Beatles Museum in Liverpool so fans would be able to see it.
While his generosity is now sealed in legend, there remains the matter of the vast fortune still standing. Years of charitable gestures seemed to make little dent in Michael’s existing estate — a portfolio that includes multimillion-dollar real estate holdings in England, Los Angeles, and Sydney, as well as extensive investments in fine art collected with ex-partner Kenny Goss. Michael is survived by two sisters, a number of godchildren, and current partner Fadi Fawaz, any and all of whom could be named in his will.