Richest CelebritiesSingers
Net Worth:
$10 Million
Mar 25, 1942 - Aug 16, 2018 (76 years old)
5 ft 4 in (1.65 m)
Singer, Songwriter, Actor, Artist, Singer-songwriter, Musician, Music artist
United States of America
💰 Compare Aretha Franklin's Net Worth

What was Aretha Franklin's Net Worth?

Aretha Franklin was an American singer, songwriter, and musician who had a net worth of $10 million at the time of her death in 2018. That number does not include intellectual property values, the value of her likeness, music catalog and royalty stream. According to court documents submitted in a battle over her estate, Aretha's royalty income in the years after her death has been $3-4 million per year. The value of her catalog and royalty income would likely push her actual net worth at death closer to $50 – $80 million. As we detail in the next section in this article, the overall value of her assets were pegged at $4.1 million, of which the majority was made up of cash and real estate, with a nominal $1 million value given for her intellectual property.

Known as the "Queen of Soul," Aretha's hit songs include "Respect," "I Say a Little Prayer," and "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)." She still stands as one of the best-selling musicians of all time, having sold over 75 million albums to date, worldwide. That made her one of the 50 best-selling musical artists in history. If you remove bands and other group acts, she is one of the 25 best-selling artists in history. Rolling Stone ranked her #1 on their list of the greatest singers of all time, topping the likes of Ray Charles, Elvis, John Lennon and Bob Dylan. The magazine described her as a "gift from God". She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. She was the very first woman to be inducted.

She began her professional career in the 1960s with Columbia Records, where she achieved moderate success. In 1967, Franklin's career took a seismic shift when she moved to Atlantic Records and released the groundbreaking single, "Respect." The song, a riveting demand for dignity and equality, became a defining anthem for the civil rights and women's rights movements.

Franklin's voice, characterized by its powerful range and emotional depth, defined a generation of soul music, influencing countless artists. With hits like "Chain of Fools," "Think," "I Say a Little Prayer," and "A Natural Woman," she earned 18 Grammy Awards, including the first eight awards given for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.

She charted 112 singles including 17 that hit the top 10. On the R&B chart, she landed 21 #1 tracks. She is the most-charted woman in Billboard history. During her career Aretha won 18 Grammy Awards. She performed "My Country 'Tis of Thee" at Barack Obama's inaugural ceremony.

Aretha previously held the record for most Hot 100 songs of any female artist at 73. She first hit the top spot on June 18, 1977, when "Break It to Me Gently" gave her her 54th appearance on the Hot 100 chart, beating then-champion Connie Francis' 53 career appearances. Aretha's record was broken by Nicki Minaj in May 2017. Nicki now has 76. If one were to seek out a caveat for Nicki beating Aretha's record, for sentimental reasons if nothing else, one could look at the fact that while Franklin is the sole credited artist on all 73 of her songs to make the Hot 100 charts, Minaj is merely a featured artist on 44 of them.

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Estate Battle

Aretha reportedly died without a will. Or at the very least, she did not have a formal, typewritten will. In 2010 she signed a document which purportedly named her son Ted executor of the will. In 2019, a year after death, a hand written document – supposedly from 2014 – emerged that apparently crossed Ted's name out and instead named her son Kecalf as executor. This second document was reportedly found stuffed in a couch.

The battle raged on until it went to trial in July 2023.

Documents submitted by lawyers representing the estate over the years showed that at the time of her death Aretha's overall assets were worth $4.1 million. However, that figure included a paltry $1 million for intellectual property and did not include an overall value of her royalty stream and catalog.

Documents also showed that at the time of her death Aretha owed the IRS between $5 and $8 million. That $8 million figure is the sum of $6.3 million in back taxes, plus another $1.5 million in various penalties. David Bennett is an attorney for the Franklin Estate, and he said that they're disputing the IRS's claims and that the vast majority of her debts to Uncle Sam were paid off by the singer before she died: "The Estate is diligently working to resolve any remaining issues."

She owned a large portfolio of property, stocks, and other assets. She also had over $1 million worth of uncashed checks. According to court documents, she had $988,656.17 in uncashed checks in her possession when she died. Two totaled  $702,711.90 from Sound Exchange and the Screen Writers Guild. The rest totaled $285,944.27 and came from her publishing company Springtime Publishing, EMI, BMI, Carlin Music, and Feel Good Films.

In May 2019 her lawyers moved to liquidate these assets.


Early Life

Aretha Louise Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 25, 1942. Her mother, Barbara (née Siggers), was a vocalist and piano player, and her father, Clarence LaVaughn "C. L." Franklin, was a Baptist minister and circuit preacher. She was born at the family home at 406 Lucy Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee. Franklin had many siblings; her parents had four children together, in addition to children they had from both of their prior relationships. When Franklin was three years old, her whole family moved to Buffalo, New York, before permanently relocating to Detroit, Michigan. In Detroi, her father took over as the pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church.

Franklin's parents had a rocky marriage, mostly due to her father's many infidelities, and they eventually separated in 1948. Her mother took Aretha's half-brother, Vaughn, and moved back to Buffalo, but still frequently visited her other children back in Detroit. However, she passed away after suffering a heart attack in 1952. As such, Franklin and her siblings were raised by several women in the community, including their grandmother. Franklin attended Northern High School in Detroit, but dropped out during her sophomore year.

(Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)


Franklin began singing at an early age in her father's church, and he began managing her when she was twelve years old. He would take her on his "gospel caravan" tours where she would sing in various churches on the road, and he was also the one that helped her land her first recording deal, with J.V.B. Records. Her first single with J.V.B. Records, "Never Grow Old", was released in 1956, followed by several singles that same year along with the album "Spirituals" (1956). She continued to sing and perform gospel music, and spent summers in Chicago on the gospel circuit there. She even went on tour with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when she was sixteen years old (she would later go on to sing at his funeral in 1968). However, when she turned eighteen, Franklin decided she wanted to purpose a pop music career.

Franklin's father helped her move to New York, and also helped her produce the demo that would land her a record deal with Columbia Records, who signed her in 1960. Her first record with Columbia, the single "Today I Sing the Blues", was released in September 1960, and eventually made it into the Top 10 of the Hot Rhythm & Blues Sellers chart. Franklin released her first secular album, "Aretha: With the Ray Bryant Combo", in January 1961. The single "Won't Be Long" off the album was her first single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. She went on to release several more albums with Columbia, but struggled with achieving real commercial success while at the label. After her contract expired with them, she moved to Atlantic Records in November 1966. Her first single with Atlantic, "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)", was a huge hit and peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it her first top-ten pop single.

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Today Franklin is probably best known for her hits "Respect", "(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman", "Chain of Fools", "Ain't No Way", "Think", "Bridge Over Troubled Water", and "I Say a Little Prayer", among others. She was the first female inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Franklin received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1979 and, in 1994, she received a medal from the Kennedy Center Honors. She has received 18 Grammy Awards in multiple musical genres, as well as two Honorary Grammys. Many of her songs have reached the "Top 40" on the Billboard charts. Twenty of her songs have gone to #1 on Billboard's R&B singles chart. She is also one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, having sold 75 million records globally.

Aretha Franklin

Dave Kotinsky / Getty Images

Personal Life

Franklin was the mother of four children. Her first two children, Clarence Franklin and Edward Derone Franklin, were born to Franklin when she was thirteen years old and fifteen, respectively. They were raised by her grandmother and sister Erma, and Franklin would visit them often back in Michigan. Her third child, Ted White Jr., was born in 1964 to Franklin and her husband at the time, Theodore "Ted" White. Her youngest child, Kecalf Cunningham, was born in 1970 to Franklin and her road manager Ken Cunningham.

Franklin was married twice during her lifetime. She married her first husband, Ted White, in 1961. They separated in 1968 and finalized their divorce in 1969. Her second husband was actor Glynn Turman. They married in 1978, before separating in 1982 and divorcing in 1984. In 2012, she became engaged to her longtime partner Willie Wilkerson (they were actually engaged two times before this), but she later called off the engagement.

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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