What Marilyn Monroe’s Net Worth Was & Who Inherited Her Fortune After She Died

Marilyn Monroe is one of Hollywood’s most enduring stars, but the tragedy of her short life often overshadows what an incredible talent and in-demand face she was on-screen. With 33 acting credits in a career lasting just 15 years, you might be wondering what Marilyn Monroe’s net worth was and who inherited her estate after she died.

Some of Monroe’s most famous works feature her as a “blonde bombshell” character with a penchant for the finer things in life; movies like How to Marry a Millionaire and songs like “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” from the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes to name a few. But she was wary of the industry at the same time. A quote attributed to Monroe alludes to her knowledge of how exploitative the film industry could be: “Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and 50 cents for your soul,” she once said. Even now, 60 years after her death, Marilyn Monroe’s net worth still makes her among the highest-paid celebrities ever.

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What is Marilyn Monroe’s net worth?

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What is Marilyn Monroe’s net worth? Celebrity Net Worth estimates Monroe’s estate was worth around $800,000 at the time of her death which is around $7.8 million in 2022 adjusting for inflation. During her career, she earned little under $3 million ($24 million by today’s economy) from film salary. “She gained a fame in the world, but that’s not an identity you can live with,” Joyce Carol Oates, the author of Blonde on which the Netflix movie starring Ana de Armas as Monroe is based, told Variety. It is one that made a lot of money for a lot of men, but not much for herself. When she died, at 36, she didn’t own enough money for a proper funeral.” She was generous with her wealth, and many reports say she spent her money freely on clothing, jewelry, as well as gifts for friends and employees. Monroe’s life was tragically cut short in 1962 when she died from an apparent suicide. Her net worth was whittled down to just $370,000 ($3.5 million today) after various settlement costs and estate fees, according to the will that was filed in Los Angeles County. Monroe’s most valuable asset was her home in Brentwood, LA, bought just months before the actor passed. It was the only home she ever owed, purchasing the property in January 1962 for $77,500, and Celebrity Net Worth reports she had to borrow money for the down payment from her ex-husband Joe DiMaggio. The sprawling home sold for $7.25 million in 2017.

Who inherited Marilyn Monroe’s estate?

Who inherited Marilyn Monroe’s estate? Per Monroe’s will, Monroe gave $10,000 each to her longtime assistant and to her half-sister. She put $5,000 in a trust fund for the education of her assistant’s child, and she left a $100,000 trust fund for her mother. 75 percent of Monroe’s intellectual property and estate were left to her acting coach, Lee Strasberg, and the remaining 25 percent was given to her New York psychiatrist Dr. Marianne Kris. “She felt that [Kris] was very helpful and sympathetic,” Sarah Churchwell, author of The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe, told NPR in 2012. “She found that [Kris] was starting to help her understand what it was that she was going through.” After Dr. Kris died, a portion of her estate was transferred to the Anna Freud Centre in London, which works with children experiencing mental health issues. “That would have made [Monroe] really happy,” Churchwell said. “She did want to do good, and she wanted to feel as if she had accomplished something.”

"Blonde" by Joyce Carol Oates

Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates

Buy: ‘Blonde’ by Joyce Carol Oates $13.49

When Monroe’s acting coach Strasberg died in 1982, his second wife Anna Mizrahi inherited Monroe’s estate and hired CMG Worldwide—a company that manages the estates of dead celebrities—to license Monroe merchandise and that’s when the Some Like It Hot star really started bringing in the big bucks. “We did hundreds and hundreds of programs with companies like Mercedes-Benz to Coca-Cola to fragrance, clothing, giftware, collectibles, paper products, things like that,” CMG CEO Mark Roesler told NPR. Mizrahi made Monroe one of the highest-paid dead celebrities in the world, according to Forbes. Marilyn Monroe LLC was established and between the years 1996 and 2000, she made more than $7.5 million in licensing revenue.

Monroe’s will stated that she wanted her personal effects and clothing to go to her friends and colleagues, but Mizrahi commissioned auctioneer’s Christies to sell off the items in 1999, including the famous peach-and-rhinestone dress she wore to sing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to John F. Kennedy (and which Kim Kardashian infamously wore to the Met Gala in 2022). The dress went for more than $1 million (it was sold again in 2016 for $4.8 million to Ripley Entertainment). Monroe’s cherished grand piano sold for $600,000 to pop icon Mariah Carey. “I wish her things didn’t have to be auctioned off,” Carey said at the time. “It’s a shame—I wish somebody had the money to buy it all and put it in a museum.” In 2011, Mizrahi sold her 75 percent stake in Monroe’s estate to Authentic Brands group for a deal estimated to be between $20-30 million.

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How did Marilyn Monroe die?

How did Marilyn Monroe die? Her autopsy revealed a lethal dose of barbiturates, a.k.a. sleeping pills, in her system. Her housekeeper Eunice Murray had been staying overnight at Monroe’s home in Brentwood, Los Angeles, on the night Monroe passed away. The housekeeper is said to have awoken at 3am sensing something was wrong and, noticing a light on in Monroe’s bedroom, she tried to enter but the door was either blocked or locked. Murray called the star’s LA psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson, who broke into Monroe’s bedroom through the window and found the star unresponsive in her bed. At 3.50 am, Monroe’s doctor arrived and pronounced her dead at the scene of an apparent suicide.

"My Story" by Marilyn Monroe

My Story by Marilyn Monroe

Buy: ‘My Story’ by Marilyn Monroe $19.49

For more about Marilyn Monroe, read her 1974 autobiography, My Story. Written in her own words, My Story takes readers through Marilyn’s life, from her childhood as an unwanted orphan to her rise as a movie star and sex symbol. The intimate book also tells all of Marilyn’s three marriages (including with her controversial second husband, Yankee Clipper Joe DiMaggio) and the vision she had of herself as “the kind of girl they found dead in the hall bedroom with an empty bottle of sleeping pills in her hand,” according to the publisher’s description. Illustrated with rare photos of Marilyn throughout her life, My Story tells the real story of how Marilyn became the American Hollywood icon the world knows and loves today.

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