Last Updated: November 1, 2023
Richest Athletes
Net Worth:
$800 Thousand
Aug 13, 1949 (74 years old)
💰 Compare Philippe Petit's Net Worth

What Is Philippe Petit's Net Worth?

Philippe Petit is a French high-wire artist who has a net worth of $800 thousand. Philippe Petit is best known for his 1974 high-wire walk between the World Trade Center's Twin Towers in New York City. Petit performed this walk 1,350 feet above the ground on a 450 pound cable with a 26 foot long balancing pole. He made eight passes along the wire over 45 minutes. Philippe was not charged by authorities for his unauthorized performance, but he was required to do a performance for children in Central Park. Since then Petit has served as an artist-in-residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. He was featured in the 2008 documentary "Man on Wire" by director James Marsh, and he was portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the 2015 movie "The Walk." Philippe has done many high-wire performances in Paris, France, and New York City, and he has also published numerous books, including "Two towers, I walk" (1975), "On The High Wire" (1985), and "To Reach The Clouds: My High Wire Walk Between The Twin Towers" (2002).

Early Life

Philippe Petit was born on August 13, 1949, in Nemours, Seine-et-Marne, France. His father, Edmond, was an Army pilot and an author. Philippe became interested in juggling and magic at an early age. He also enjoyed climbing, and when he was 16 years old, he walked on a tightrope wire for the first time. In a 1999 "New Yorker" interview, Petit stated, "Within one year, I taught myself to do all the things you could do on a wire. I learned the backward somersault, the front somersault, the unicycle, the bicycle, the chair on the wire, jumping through hoops. But I thought, What is the big deal here? It looks almost ugly. So I started to discard those tricks and to reinvent my art." In June 1971, Philippe installed a cable between Notre Dame de Paris' two towers, and on the 26th of that month, he "juggled balls, pranced back and forth and lay down on the cable 225 feet above the ground" (according to the "Ogden Standard Examiner").

(Photo by Stefania D'Alessandro/Getty Images)


In 1973, Petit walked between the towers of Australia's Sydney Harbour Bridge without permission.

In August 1974, he gained fame when he committed what became known as the "artistic crime of the century" – walking between the World Trade Center's Twin Towers. The towers were still under construction at the time, and for 45 minutes, Philippe "walked, danced, lay down on the wire, and saluted watchers from a kneeling position" while thousands of onlookers cheered him on. Petit spent six years planning the feat, and it was covered in the documentaries "High Wire" (1984) and "Man on Wire" (2008), the 2003 children's book "The Man Who Walked Between The Towers," and the 2015 Robert Zemeckis-directed film "The Walk."

"Man on Wire" was featured on several lists of 2008's best films, and it won more than 40 awards, including an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

In 1986, Philippe re-enacted Charles Blondin's crossing of the Niagara River for an IMAX movie. In 1989, he was invited by mayor Jacques Chirac to "walk an inclined wire strung from the ground at the Place du Trocadéro to the second level of the Eiffel Tower, crossing the Seine" in celebration of the French Revolution's 200th anniversary.

Petit was briefly a headliner with the Ringling Brothers Circus, and during this time, he suffered a fall from 45 feet (his only fall) and broke several ribs. Philippe has published many books, and he wrote the e-book "Cheating the Impossible: Ideas and Recipes from a Rebellious High-Wire Artist" for TED Books.

Philippe Petit

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Personal Life

Philippe is married to Kathy O'Donnell. According to a 1999 article in "The New Yorker," O'Donnell "has been the producer of his high-wire spectacles" since 1987. The article also credited Kathy with helping Philippe cope with the death of his 9-year-old daughter Gypsy, who passed away from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1992.


In 2004, Petit won the James Parks Morton Interfaith Award, which is given to individuals who "exemplify an outstanding commitment to promoting human development and peace." In 2006, he was honored with the STREB Action Maverick Award. According to the official STREB website, an "Action Maverick" is "An original. A person that breaks the rules, re-interprets or establishes new parameters of their craft. New artistic, educational, scientific visions. A risk taker. A hero." Philippe has also received The Byrdcliffe Award.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
Did we make a mistake?
Submit a correction suggestion and help us fix it!
Submit a Correction