Last Updated: September 7, 2023
Info
Category:
Richest CelebritiesDirectors
Net Worth:
$60 Million
Date of Birth:
Mar 20, 1957 (66 years old)
Place of Birth:
Atlanta
Gender:
Male
Height:
5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
Profession:
Screenwriter, Actor, Film director, Film Producer, Television Director, Television producer, Film Editor, Teacher
Nationality:
United States of America
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What is Spike Lee's Net Worth and Salary?

Spike Lee is an American movie director, writer, producer, actor, and college professor who has a net worth of $60 million. Spike Lee has produced more than 35 films since 1983 through his production company, 40 Acres and a Mule. He made his directorial debut with "She's Gotta Have It" in 1986. He has since written and directed such films as 1989's "Do the Right Thing," 1991's  "Jungle Fever," and 1992's "Malcolm X."

The award-winning filmmaker earned his graduate degree in filmmaking from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, and became the first student director to ever have a film featured in Lincoln Center's "New Directors, New Films" Festival.  His first feature, "She's Gotta Have It", was shot in 1985 for $175,000.  It  grossed over $7,000,000 when it was released the following year.  Since then, he has gone on to write and direct films that have been critically and commercially successful.  He has also stirred up controversy more than once.  Some of his more popular projects include "Do the Right Thing", "Jungle Fever", "Malcolm X", "Get on the Bus", "4 Little Girls", "He Got Game", "Inside Man", and "Miracle at St. Anna".  He moves easily between narrative features, documentaries, and commercials, and has been nominated for two Academy Awards Рa "Best Original Screenplay" nomination for "Do the Right Thing", and "Best Documentary (Feature)" for "4 Little Girls".  He's also managed to upset a range of politicians and fellow filmmakers with his views on race, gun violence, and a host of other topics. He's been in public feuds with Senator Dick Armey, Senator Trent Lott, Spike TV executives, Clint Eastwood, and the Anti-Defamation League, to name a few.

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Early Life

Spike Lee was born Shelton Jackson Lee in Atlanta, Georgia on March 20, 1957. His mom, Jacqueline, taught arts and black literature. His dad, William, was a jazz musician and composer. He has three younger siblings, Joie, David, and Cinque. His mother gave him the nickname Spike when he was a young boy. His family moved from Atlanta to Brooklyn when he was a child. He attended Brooklyn's John Dewey High School. He enrolled at the historically black college Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he made his first student film, "Last Hustle in Brooklyn." He graduated with a B.A. in mass communications. He got his Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in film and television from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 1978. Lee's independent film, "Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads," was the first student film to be showcased in Lincoln Center's New Directors/New Films Festival.

Career

Spike Lee began to work on his first feature film, She's Gotta Have It, in 1985. He had a budget of $175,000 and shot the entire film in just two weeks. When the movie was released in 1986, it grossed more than $7 million at the U.S. box office. His 1989 film, "Do the Right Thing," garnered him a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. His next film, "Mo' Better Blues," was released in 1990 amid controversy over its antisemitic undertones. Characters in the movie were referred to as Shylocks, a reference to the Venetian Jewish character in William Shakespeare's play "The Merchant of Venice." Lee denied the charges and explained that he was trying to illustrate how black artists struggled against exploitation.  In 1997, he released the documentary "4 Little Girls," which was about the girls killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary.

Lee's production company 40 Acres & A Mule has produced over 35 films since 1983. Lee's films are typically referred to as "Spike Lee Joints." The closing credits always end with the phrases "By Any Means Necessary," "Ya Dig," and "Sho Nuff."

In May of 2007, Spike Lee was honored with the San Francisco Film Society's Directing Award. His films are often set in Brooklyn, and Spike often has cameo appearances in his own films. Lee's films examine race relations, colorism in the black community, the role of media in contemporary life, urban crime and poverty, and other political issues. He has several reoccurring attributes as well, such as a baseball-related motif and a character that is often given a "floating" effect, where they appear to be gliding instead of walking.

In 2015, Lee received an Academy Honorary Award for his contributions to film. He was named the recipient of the Ebert Director Award at the TIFF Tribute Awards for the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival.

Lee's 2018 film "BlacKkKlansman" won the Grand Prix at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and opened the following August. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director (Lee's first-ever nomination in this category). Lee won his first competitive Academy Award in the category Best Adapted Screenplay. In 2020, Lee's Vietman war film, "Da 5 Bloods," released on Netflix to widespread acclaim. Spike Lee recently signed a deal with Netflix to direct and produce more movies for the platform.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Other Ventures

In 1991, Lee taught a course on filmmaking at Harvard. In 1993, he started teaching at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts graduate film program. He is a tenured professor at NYU.

Through the marketing division of 40 Acres and a Mule, Lee has directed commercials for Converse, Jaguar, Taco Bell, and Ben & Jerry's.

Personal Life

Spike Lee met attorney Tonya Lewis in 1992. They got married a year later in New York. They have a daughter, Satchel, born in 1994 and a son, Jackson, born in 1997.

Lee is a huge fan of the New York Yankees, the New York Knicks, the New York Rangers, and Arsenal. For nearly three decades, he's been a regular fixture in courtside seats at almost every Knicks home game. It has been estimated that Spike has spent $10 million on Knicks tickets during his life.

Spike Lee Wealth

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Salary Highlights

Spike earned $3 million to direct 1992's "Malcolm X." One can safely assume that he earned at least $3 million in salary, and likely much more on the backend, for movies like "25th Hour," "Love & Basketball," "Summer of Sam," and "Inside Man."

Real Estate

Spike's main residence since 1998 has been a 9,000-square-foot townhome located in Manhattan's most expensive Upper East Side zip code. The mansion is actually made up of two three-story buildings with a shared central courtyard. The list of luminaries who have called Spike Lee's house their own is rather dizzying. Spike bought the property in 1998 for $16.62 million from artist Jasper Johns. Other previous owners include Gypsy Rose Lee, Charles Lanier Lawrence, and Charles B. Dillingham, among others.

The home was built in 1916 as a gift from Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt to her daughter on her marriage. The house was designed by famed architect Frederick J. Sterner, who fashioned a Spanish revival home that was quite stark in comparison to the surrounding architecture.  It made up for its austere exterior, with a gorgeous, and completely private, central courtyard. Spike listed the home for sale in 2014 for $32 million. He did not find a buyer and continues to own the property to this day. Take this with a grain of salt, but Zillow's 10-year estimate range for this house is $19 Р$90 million.

Spike's film production company, 40 Acres and a Mule, is located in a three-story building in Brooklyn that he purchased in 1991 for $820,000. Comparable buildings on the same block are currently selling for $2-$4 million. His Bed Stuy brownstone made popular in "Crooklyn" sold in March 2023 for $4.1 million.

When Spike isn't kicking back in New York City, you might find him at his two-acre estate in Martha's Vineyard. Located just off the 18th hole of Farm Neck Golf Club, Spike purchased the property in 1989 for $400,000. He then built a four-bedroom mansion which today is worth an estimated $3-4 million.

Spike Lee Earnings

  • Malcolm X
    $3 Million
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