Howard Hughes net worth: Howard Hughes was an American business tycoon, film director and producer, aviator and engineer who had a net worth equal to $11 billion at the time of his death ($2.5 billion in 1976). Howard Hughes used a fortune he inherited when his father died to launch a career directing and producing of hit films such as The Outlaw, Scarface, Hells Angels and The Racket. The first two films he ever made were "Arabian Nights and "Everybody's Acting". Both were big hits.
He founded Hughes Aircraft Company in 1932, the Hughes Helicopters Division in 1947 and Hughes Aerospace Group in 1948. Howard also took over a controlling interest in TWA airport in 1939. He purchased the airline Air West in 1970 and changing the name to Hughes Airwest.
Hughes also set many world records as a pilot and aircraft engineer. He built the Hughes H-1 Racer while running Hughes Aircraft, which was donated to the Smithsonion in 1975 and then put on display at the National Air and Space Museum. He was also one of the people who helped design and fund the building of The Boeing 307 Stratoliner and the Lockheed L-049 Constellation.
At the time of his death, Howard left behind an estate valued at $2.5 billion. That's the same as $11 billion in today's dollars. Over 400 people came forward to claim part of his will. Several different wills were produced, including one that left $150 million to a gas station attendant in Nevada who supposedly drove a lost and disheveled Howard back to the Desert Inn one night. The Mormon church claimed a large stake in Howard's will. After several angry lawsuits, a judge finally declared that Howard died without a valid will and therefore split his fortune up among 22 cousins.
Howard's name and inventions still live on to this day. Upon his death, he donated all of his stock in the Hughes Aircraft to form The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) in Chevy Chase, Maryland. In 1985, the HHMI sold all of its stock in Hughes Aircraft to General Motors for a tax-free $5.2 billion in cash and stock. This instantly turned HHMI into one of the largest private foundations in the world. The HHMI is one of the largest non-governmental funding organizations in the world for medical and biological research. Today HHMI's endowment is $17 billion.
Howard Hughes famously suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder. He had reached a point where he had difficulty making decisions and would lock himself up for days, and months at a time, living on nothing other than chocolate candy and milk. He insisted no one speak to him unless requested, and no one was to look at him. He continued to let himself go and wasn't at all concerned about personal hygiene. All he wanted was to be left alone to watch movie after movie while sitting naked in his chair.
When Howard Hughes passed away, the authorities had to run DNA testing to be sure it was him, because of his constant drug use and his debilitating state. His physical condition was so bad that he only weighed around 90 pounds. An autopsy confirmed that Howard Hughes died of kidney failure. Doctors found five hypodermic needles that had broken off in his arms and legs. He was buried in Houston, Texas at the Glenwood Cemetery.