- Richest Celebrities › Authors
- Net Worth:
- $30 Million
- Date of Birth:
- Aug 15, 1954 - Nov 9, 2004 (50 years old)
- Place of Birth:
- Writer, Journalist, Crime writer
What Was Stieg Larsson's Net Worth?
Stieg Larsson was a Swedish journalist and writer who had a net worth of $30 million at the time of his death in 2004. That's the same as around $45 million in today's dollars. As we detail later in this article, at the time of his death in 2004 Stieg did not have a will. This kicked off a bitter feud between his partner of 32 years and his surviving father and brother – who ultimately took control of and inherited his assets. In the years following his death, thanks to the release of his books and movies based on his books, Stieg's estate has earned tens of millions of dollars per year.
Stieg Larsson was the author of the popular "Millennium trilogy," which includes the novels "Män som hatar kvinnor" ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"), "Flickan som lekte med elden" ("The Girl Who Played with Fire"), and "Luftslottet som sprängdes" ("The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest"). All three novels were published after Stieg's death, and they were adapted into a film series in Sweden. In 2011, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" was adapted into an American film directed by David Fincher and starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig, and it grossed $239.3 million at the box office and earned five Academy Award nominations. In July 2010, Larsson became to first author to sell 1 million ebooks on Amazon. The "Millennium trilogy" has been published in more than 50 countries and has sold over 70 million copies.
Stieg Larsson was born Karl Stig-Erland Larsson on August 15, 1954, in Skelleftehamn, Sweden. He was the son of Vivianne Boström (who passed away in 1991) and Erland Larsson, and he had a younger brother named Joakim. Stieg's father and material grandfather both worked in a smelting plant, and Erland quit his job after he became sick from arsenic poisoning. Larsson's parents left 1-year-old Stieg in Västerbotten County with his maternal grandparents and moved to Stockholm to look for work. Larsson stayed there until he was 9 years old, and after his grandfather died, he went to live with his parents and brother. In 1972, Stieg graduated with a secondary diploma in social sciences, and he applied to Stockholm's Joint Colleges of Journalism but didn't pass the entrance exam. He was conscripted into the Swedish Army in 1974, and he served for 16 months and trained as a mortarman.
While attending an anti-Vietnam War meeting at the age of 18, Larsson met Eva Gabrielsson, and the two entered into a relationship that would last until his death. After publishing her memoir "Stieg and Me: Memories of My Life with Stieg Larsson" in 2011, Gabrielsson was interviewed by "The Guardian," and she spoke about an incident that greatly affected Larsson as a teenager. One day Stieg witnessed a group of his friends commit gang rape, and for years afterward, he felt guilty for not intervening. Eva said that Stieg didn't tell her about the incident until a decade into their relationship "and it was obvious it still haunted him, he was still pained by the memory, the shame that he couldn't do anything. I think he was angry with himself for being such a bad judge of character. Coming from the forest into a city at nine years old you have to make new friends, and he was still upset about it. I am the only one he ever told."
Stieg's parents gave him a typewriter for his 12th birthday, and he began writing science-fiction stories. In 1972, he co-edited the fanzine "Sfären" with Rune Forsgren, and he attended the Stockholm sci-fi convention SF•72. He published more than 30 fanzine issues during the '70s, and in 1971, he joined the Scandinavian SF Society; he became a board member in 1978 and chairman two years later. Larsson served as editor or co-editor of numerous sci-fi fanzines, and in the late '70s, he was the president of Skandinavisk Förening för Science Fiction, Sweden's biggest sci-fi fan club. In his early twenties, Larsson changed the spelling of his name from "Stig" to "Stieg" to because he had a friend named Stig Larsson, who was also a writer. Stieg's first books were the nonfiction books "Extremhögern" (1991), "Sverigedemokraterna: den nationella rörelsen" (2001), "Debatten om hedersmord: feminism eller rasism" (2004), and "Sverigedemokraterna från insidan" (2004).
At the time of his death, Larsson had completed three of the 10 novels he'd planned for the "Millennium" series, and they had all been accepted for publication but were not published until after his death. "Män som hatar kvinnor" ("Men who hate women") was published in Sweden in 2005, and it was published under the title "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" for the English-language market in 2008. It was followed by "Flickan som lekte med elden" ("The Girl Who Played with Fire") in 2006 and "Luftslottet som sprängdes" ("The Air Castle That Was Blown Up") in 2009. "Flickan som lekte med elden" was titled ""The Girl Who Played with Fire" for the English-language market, and "Luftslottet som sprängdes" was titled "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest."
Larsson left most of a fourth novel on his computer, and it is believed that manuscripts or synopses of two more "Millennium" novels might exist. In 2013, Norstedts, a Swedish publisher, hired Swedish author/journalist David Lagercrantz to write more novels for the series, beginning with 2015's "Det som inte dödar oss" ("That which doesn't kill us"). The novel was titled "The Girl in the Spider's Web" for the English-language market, and it was followed by 2017's "Mannen som sökte sin skugga" ("The man who hunted his shadow"), which has the English title "The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye." In 2019, the sixth book in the series was released, and it was called "Hon som måste dö" ("She who must die"), or "The Girl Who Lived Twice" for English-language markets. Besides the film adaptations of the series, a miniseries entitled "Millennium" was also released. The 2010 Swedish six-part miniseries starred Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace and aired on SVT1. In 2018, Claire Foy starred as Lisbeth Salander in the American film adaptation of "The Girl in the Spider's Web," but it did not come close to matching the success of 2011's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."
During his time as a professional photographer, Stieg got involved in far-left political activism and joined the Communist Workers' League (Kommunistiska Arbetareförbundet). He also served as editor of "Fjärde internationalen," a Swedish Trotskyist journal, and wrote for the weekly newspaper "Internationalen." In 1977, Larsson taught female Eritrean People's Liberation Front guerrillas how to use mortars, but he had to stop after he contracted a disease that affected his kidneys. After Stieg returned to Sweden later that year, he took a job as a graphic designer at the news agency Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå and stayed there until 1999. His political beliefs inspired him to found the Swedish Expo Foundation to "counteract the growth of the extreme right and the white power culture in schools and among young people." In 1995, Larsson began editing "Expo," the foundation's magazine. During his free time, Stieg researched right-wing extremism in Sweden, which led to his first book, 1991's "Extremhögern" ("The Extreme Right").
On November 9, 2004, Stieg suffered a heart attack while climbing the seven flights of stairs to the "Expo" office, and he passed away at the age of 50. ABC News reported that Larsson lived "a life of fast food and coffee-fueled work habits." He was laid to rest at Stockholm's Högalid Church.
Stieg left behind an estate that after his death was valued at the equivalent of $30 million USD. In 2008 a will he wrote in 1977 was discovered in which he wished to leave his assets to the Communist Workers League's Umeå branch. The will was not witnessed, so it wasn't valid under Swedish law. Since the country doesn't recognize common-law marriage, Stieg's assets went to his father and his brother (including future royalties) instead of to Eva Gabrielsson, his partner of over 30 years. The couple never legally married because Swedish law required married couples to make their home addresses publicly available, which could have created a security risk.
Gabrielsson said that Larsson's family was initially supportive of her, telling her, "You were his wife, it is not our inheritance, it's yours." She told ABC News, "But something changed them. Something changed then, and I ended up in the position where all Swedish inhabitants are, with nothing."
Eva has said that she feels "extremely furious that his legacy is being handled like a sack of potatoes, chopped up into chips that are sellable, he would have been furious and he would have gone to a great extent to exact revenge."
The family, who said they made sure Eva got Stieg's financial assets and apartment, offered Gabrielsson an estimated $2.6 million settlement, but she rejected it because she just wanted the rights to manage his literary property. In 2012, Larsson's family established The Stieg Larsson Foundation, which is dedicated to "increasing knowledge and strengthening basic democratic values mainly within the fields of freedom of speech and opinion."
Posthumously, Larsson won the Glass Key award for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (2005) and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest" (2008). In 2006, "The Girl Who Played with Fire" won the Best Swedish Crime Novel Award, and In 2008, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" earned Stieg the ITV3 Crime Thriller Award for International Author of the Year (UK) and the Exclusive Books Boeke Prize (South Africa). The following year, the novel was named the Books Direct Crime Thriller of the Year by the Galaxy British Book Awards, and it received the Anthony Award for Best First Novel. That year, Larsson also was honored by Spain's General Council of the Judiciary because of his dedication to the fight against domestic violence. In 2010, "USA Today" named Stieg Author of the Year.