Stan Lee’s net worth is estimated at $50 million by CelebrityNetWorth.com. Lee is the former editor-in-chief, publisher, and chairman of Marvel Comics. He passed away at the age of 95 on November 12, 2018.
Lee is the co-creator of iconic comic book heroes like Spider Man, The Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and Iron Man. Lee took Marvel Comics from a small publishing house and turned it into a global corporation that was acquired by Disney in 2009 for $4.24 billion, though he did not earn anything from the sale.
Lee, who is well-known for his cameos in Marvel films, openly discussed how little money he made from the movies or the company’s sale.
“I don’t have $200 million. I don’t have $150 million. I don’t have $100 million or anywhere near that,” he told Playboy Magazine in 2014, while discussing the colossal sums of money Marvel films had earned.
Here is what you need to know:
1. Stan Lee Started From Humble Beginnings During The Great Depression
Lee, whose real name is Stanley Martin Lieber, was born to Jewish immigrants from Romania. Lee grew up during the Great Depression and saw his parents struggle to make ends meet.
“I saw my parents struggling to pay the rent. My father was always unemployed, and when he did have a job, he was a dress cutter. Not very much money there,” he recalled during a 2014 interview with Playboy.
Lee told the magazine that his uncle helped him get an assistant job at Timely Comics in 1939. The owner, Martin Goodman, later renamed the company to Marvel. Lee helped write for Captain America and, at age 18, was named as Marvel’s editor. He stayed in the position until 1972. During the 1960’s, he worked with iconic artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko on developing superheroes like The X-Men, Spider Man, The Fantastic Four, and The Hulk.
During that time, he met and married his wife, Joan, a former British model who stayed with Lee until her death in 2017.
2. Stan Lee Earned a $1 Million Annual Salary From Marvel
The Guardian reported that in the 2000s, Marvel paid Lee a salary of $1 million per year. In 2000, he sued Marvel for failing to pay him a percentage of the profits from the film and TV spinoffs of Spider Man. Lee said the company breached their contract, which entitled him to 10 percent of the profits. In 2005, a judge ruled in Lee’s favor, earning him an estimated “tens of millions of dollars.” The Independent reported that he ultimately received a one-time payment of $10 million.
“Since I am deeply fond of Marvel and the people there, I sincerely regret the situation had to come to this,” Lee said in a statement after the lawsuit. He remained with the company as its “chairman emeritus.”
In a 2014 interview with Playboy, Lee said that Marvel and Martin Goodman, who passed away in 1992, was always fair to him.
“I was happy enough to get a nice paycheck and be treated well,” he said. “I always got the highest rate; whatever Martin paid another writer, I got at least that much. It was a very good job. I was able to buy a house on Long Island.”
3. Stan Lee Didn’t Make a Cent From Marvel’s Sale to Disney
Disney acquired Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion in 2009 but, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Lee did not make anything from the sale. He told the outlet that he had traded away his percentage of the movie profits for the $10 million payment and a $1 million annual salary for life. “I was stupid in a business way,” he said. “I should have been greedier.”
Lee said that after the sale, his daughter read that he was worth a quarter-billion dollars.
“My daughter was looking at the internet the other day and read that Stan Lee has an estimated $250 million,” Lee told Playboy in 2014. “I mean, that’s ridiculous! I don’t have $200 million. I don’t have $150 million. I don’t have $100 million or anywhere near that.”
“I never dreamed I should have $100 million or $250 million or whatever that crazy number is. All I know is I created a lot of characters and enjoyed the work I did,” he later added.
4. Stan Lee Received Countless Awards For His 65 Years at Marvel
In 2008, Lee received the National Media of Arts, the highest government award for creative artists, The Washington Post reported.
The Associated Press reported that he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in front of the Live Nation Building on Hollywood Boulevard in 2011. He was also inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1995.
5. Stan Lee Accused His Former Business Manager of Stealing From Him
In 2018, Lee sued former manager Jerardo Olivarez, alleging him of fraud, financial abuse of an elder, conversion and misappropriation of his name and likeness, The Los Angeles Times reported.
The lawsuit accused Olivarez and other “unscrupulous businessmen, sycophants and opportunists” of trying to take advantage of him after his wife passed away. The suit claimed that Olivarez manipulated Lee into firing his banker and longtime lawyer and signing a power of attorney to gain control of Lee’s assets. The suit said that he stole nearly $1.4 million from Lee’s accounts “through a series of complicated wire-transfers all initiated.”
The suit also alleged that Olivarez orchestrated a scheme to steal Lee’s blood to sell as a “merchandising item.”