Richest CelebritiesAuthors
Net Worth:
$120 Million
Jul 15, 1931 - Feb 24, 2020 (88 years old)
Novelist, Author, Maritime Archaeologist
United States of America
💰 Compare Clive Cussler's Net Worth

What is Clive Cussler's Net Worth?

Clive Cussler was an American adventure novelist and marine archaeologist who had a net worth of $120 million at the time of his death in 2020. Clive Cussler was best known for his maritime thriller books featuring adventurer Dirk Pitt. He penned many other series as well, including the "NUMA Files," "Oregon Files," and "Fargo Adventures." As a deep-sea explorer, Cussler founded the nonprofit National Underwater and Marine Agency, which has discovered numerous shipwreck sites. During his career he sold more than 100 million books. Several of his movies were adapted into films. The most notable was the Matthew McConaughey film "Sahara" which earned $122 million at the box office.

Early Life and Military Service

Clive Cussler was born on July 15, 1931 in Aurora, Illinois to Eric and Amy, and was raised in Alhambra, California. He was of German descent on his father's side and of English ancestry on his mother's side. At the age of 14, Cussler achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. For his higher education, he went to Pasadena City College for two years before enlisting in the US Air Force during the Korean War. During his service, Cussler worked as a flight engineer and aircraft mechanic for the Military Air Transport Service. He ultimately achieved the rank of sergeant.

Career Beginnings

Following his military discharge, Cussler worked in the advertising industry for two of the country's biggest agencies. He began as a copywriter, and then became a creative director. Cussler produced television and radio commercials, many of which were award-winning.

Dirk Pitt Adventures

In 1965, Cussler started to write at night when his wife was out working for the local police department. He went on to release his first novel, "The Mediterranean Caper," in 1973. The book was the debut of Cussler's most famous character, larger-than-life adventurer and government agent Dirk Pitt. Cussler went on to write a total of 26 Dirk Pitt novels. The series is known for its combination of maritime adventure with high technology, gorgeous women, crazed villains, and sunken treasure, inviting comparisons with James Bond and Indiana Jones. Titles in the series include "Raise the Titanic!"; "Pacific Vortex!"; "Dragon"; "Sahara"; "Shock Wave"; "Trojan Odyssey"; "Arctic Drift"; "Poseidon's Arrow"; "Odessa Sea"; "Celtic Empire"; and the final book, "The Devil's Sea," released in 2021. Cussler had 17 consecutive novels in the series make the New York Times fiction bestseller list. Two of the novels, "Raise the Titanic!" and "Sahara," were adapted into films.

The NUMA Files

Cussler began his series "NUMA Files" in 1999 with the novel "Serpent." The series follows Kurt Austin, the team leader of the special assignments division of the National Underwater and Marine Agency. A number of characters from the Dirk Pitt novels make appearances throughout the series, including Al Giordino, Hiram Yaeger, and Rudi Gunn. Cussler penned 19 "NUMA Files" books in total, with titles including "Fire Ice," "Polar Shift," "The Storm," "The Rising Sea," and "Dark Vector."

The Oregon Files

In Cussler's "Oregon Files" series, which launched in 2003 with "Golden Buddha," a high-tech ship named the Oregon is used by an enigmatic corporation led by Juan Cabrillo. Crew members on the ship work for the CIA and other agencies to fight crime and terrorism. The "Oregon Files" series contains 16 novels, including "Dark Watch," "Corsair," "The Jungle," "Shadow Tyrants," and "Hellburner."

Isaac Bell Adventures

The "Isaac Bell Adventures" series, begun in 2007 with "The Chase," centers on the titular skilled investigator and his adventures in the early 20th century. Similar to the character of Dirk Pitt, Bell has a predilection for classic cars. The series comprises 13 novels, including "The Spy," "The Striker," "The Gangster," "The Cutthroat," and "The Sea Wolves."


Fargo Adventures

Cussler's final series was the "Fargo Adventures," which kicked off with "Spartan Gold" in 2009 and concluded with "The Serpent's Eye" in 2023. Other titles in the 13-novel series, which follows the adventures of married professional treasure hunters Sam and Remi Fargo, include "Lost Empire," "The Mayan Secrets," "The Solomon Curse," "The Romanov Ransom," and "Wrath of Poseidon."

Non-Fiction Works

Beyond his novels, Cussler also authored a handful of non-fiction books. His first was the 1996 memoir "The Sea Hunters: True Adventures with Famous Shipwrecks." A sequel memoir, "The Sea Hunters II: Diving the World's Seas for Famous Shipwrecks," was published in 2002. Cussler also penned two books focused on classic cars called "Built for Adventure" and "Built to Thrill."

Deep-Sea Exploration

As an underwater explorer, Cussler founded and chaired the nonprofit National Underwater and Marine Agency, which originated as a fictional government organization in his literary work. NUMA works to preserve maritime heritage through the discovery, survey, and conservation of shipwrecks and related artifacts. Its expeditions often focus on American ships, particularly vessels from the Civil War. Cussler discovered over 60 shipwreck sites through his work with the organization.

Personal Life and Death

Cussler wed his first wife, Barbara Knight, in 1955. Together, they had three children named Dirk, Teri, and Dayna. The couple remained married until Knight's passing in 2003. Cussler subsequently wed Janet Horvath, whom he was with until his passing in early 2020 at the age of 88.

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.
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