Richest CelebritiesSingers
Net Worth:
-$20 Million
Aug 9, 1963 - Feb 11, 2012 (48 years old)
5 ft 7 in (1.727 m)
Record producer, Singer, Model, Songwriter, Film Producer, Actor, Musician, Artist, Music artist
United States of America
💰 Compare Whitney Houston's Net Worth

What was Whitney Houston's net worth?

Whitney Houston was a singer, model and actress who had a net worth of negative $20 million at the time of her death. Whitney Houston is among the bestselling and most celebrated music artists of all time. Among her numerous hit songs are "Saving All My Love for You," "It's Not Right but It's Okay," and "I Will Always Love You," which was featured on the bestselling soundtrack to the 1992 film "The Bodyguard," in which she also starred alongside Kevin Costner. Tragically, Whitney Houston died in February of 2012 at the age of 48 after accidentally drowning in a hotel bathtub.

In between the hits, Whitney led a notoriously troubled personal life. Issues with drugs and alcohol began to derail her career in the late-90s. Though she still had the gorgeous voice and the megawatt stage presence, she seemed unable to focus on moving her career forward or capitalizing on her past success. A reality series about her then husband, musician Bobby Brown, was meant to keep both artists in the spotlight. Unfortunately, it also illuminated many of the things that were going wrong in her life.

Financial Problems

On February 11th, 2012, Whitney Houston passed away in a hotel room in Beverly Hills California. During her career, Whitney sold over 200 million albums and won two Emmy awards, six Grammys 30 Billboard Music Awards and 22 AMA's.

Unfortunately Whitney spent her money just as fast, actually much faster, than she earned it. In 2001, she was flat broke before she signed a $100 million recording contract with Sony/Arista. That fact is especially shocking when you consider that at the peak of her career, Whitney was able to earn up to $30 million a year from touring alone.

When an artist signs a $100 million record contract he/she does not receive the money all at once. An artist is paid in stages, and each payment is essentially a loan based on the success of future albums. Whitney only ever earned $40 million of her $100 million contract because her records did not sell well. Therefore she actually ended up owing the record label nearly $20 million. Sony/Arista owns the rights to Whitney's back catalog.

Net Worth At Death

When Whitney divorced Bobby Brown in 2007 she filed paperwork in Orange County, California (where the couple was legally married) stating that she had $4 million in debts/obligations, a life insurance policy worth $300,000, $225,000 in a stock portfolio, and just $40,000 cash. At the time Whitney stated that she owned two properties, a $6.5 million house in New Jersey which had a $3.3 million mortgage and a $1.2 million townhouse in Atlanta which had $1.05 million mortgage. Houston also owned nearly $2 million worth of art and jewelry. In sum, Whitney stated that she had roughly $10 million in assets and just over $4 million in debts giving her a net worth in 2007 of $6 million.

Unfortunately, at the time of her death, Whitney was completely broke and was rumored to be asking her mentor Clive Davis for handouts. Her New Jersey home is now dangerously close to foreclosure and the townhouse in Atlanta has already been repossessed. Clive Davis had reportedly loaned Houston $1.2 million to pay off debts and get clean from drugs after her divorce from Bobby was final. Unfortunately she was never able to make the comeback everyone had hoped for.

In the years that followed her passing, Whitney's estate generated tens of millions of dollars through increased album sales, streaming royalties and other licensing deals.

Whitney Houston's Estate Today

In the nine months following Whitney Houston's death, her estate earned and estimated $40 million. The vast majority of this windfall came from the enormous spike in Whitney's record and single sales. Her estate also benefited from the release of the movie "Sparkle", in which Whitney acted and executive produced. Whitney's executors were able to settle most of her debts and set aside a whopping $20 million for daughter Bobbi Kristina.

Early Life and Education

Whitney Houston was born on August 9, 1963 in Newark, New Jersey to renowned gospel singer Cissy Houston and city administrator John. She had an older brother named Michael and two older half-brothers named Gary and John III. Houston began singing very early on in life as part of the church choir of the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, where she also learned how to play piano. Eventually, due to the 1967 Newark riots, she moved with her family to East Orange, New Jersey. Houston continued performing, and by the age of 11 was a soloist for her junior gospel choir. She received her education at Franklin Elementary School before being transferred to Mount Saint Dominic Academy, from which she graduated in 1981.

Career Beginnings

As a young teenager, Houston started singing in the background for her mother at cabaret clubs in New York City; she also contributed background vocals to her mother's album "Think it Over." Her mother soon encouraged her to take the lead on a few songs, leading to Houston's debut at Manhattan's Town Hall. Subsequently, she began drawing the attention of record producers, particularly Michael Zager and Paul Jabara. During a performance at Carnegie Hall for the United Negro College Fund, Houston was spotted by a photographer and was soon introduced to the industry of fashion modeling. She went on to model for several publications, such as Cosmopolitan and Glamour. Houston also graced the cover of Seventeen, making her one of the first women of color to appear on the cover of a fashion magazine.

In early 1983, while performing with her mother in New York, Houston attracted the attention of Arista Records representative Gerry Griffith. Consequently, Griffith urged Arista's head Clive Davis to come see her perform. Davis was so bowled over by what he saw and heard that he immediately offered Houston a global record deal, which she eventually signed. She went on to make her national television debut alongside Davis on "The Merv Griffin Show." Houston had her first commercial music success the next year with the release of the song "Hold Me," a duet with Teddy Pendergrass.

Whitney Houston Net Worth

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Rise to Superstardom

Houston was launched to international fame after the release of her self-titled debut album in 1985. Although slow to reach its commercial peak, the album eventually topped the Billboard 200 for 14 weeks in 1986, and launched the number-one hit singles "Saving All My Love for You," "How Will I Know," and "Greatest Love of All." The album also topped the charts in several other countries, eventually becoming one of the bestselling albums of all time.

Houston's star only continued to rise in 1987 when she released her second studio album, "Whitney." Debuting at number one on the Billboard 200, it made Houston the first woman ever to have an album debut atop that chart. "Whitney" stayed in that position for a total of 25 weeks, spawning four number-one singles: "Didn't We Almost Have it All," "So Emotional," "Where Do Broken Hearts Go," and "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)." The lattermost song, which won Houston a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, also reached number one in such countries as Canada, Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Houston went on to perform in her smash Moment of Truth World Tour.

Further Studio Albums

In late 1990, Houston released her third studio album, "I'm Your Baby Tonight," which launched several successful singles including the number-one hits "All the Man That I Need" and the title track. After spending most of the decade doing movies and soundtracks, Houston returned in late 1998 with her fourth studio album, "My Love is Your Love." Hit singles from the album included "Heartbreak Hotel," "It's Not Right but It's Okay," "My Love is Your Love," and "I Learned from the Best." The album also included the Academy Award-winning song "When You Believe," a duet with Mariah Carey written for the animated film "The Prince of Egypt."

Houston's fifth studio album, "Just Whitney," came out in late 2002. It earned mixed reviews upon release and failed to match the commercial heights of her previous albums. The next year, Houston released her first Christmas album, "One Wish: The Holiday Album." She returned to the top of the Billboard 200 in 2009 with "I Look to You," her first number-one studio album since 1987. It would also be Houston's final studio album released during her lifetime.

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Movies and Soundtracks

In 1992, Houston struck gold with her first feature film, the romantic thriller "The Bodyguard." On top of starring in the film, she also recorded six songs for the original soundtrack album. Despite being poorly reviewed, "The Bodyguard" was a hit at the box office; moreover, the soundtrack album became the bestselling soundtrack album of all time. The lead single, Houston's cover of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You," became the bestselling single of all time by a solo female artist, and won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year. Meanwhile, the soundtrack itself won the Grammy for Album of the Year. Her version also generated untold millions in royalties for the song's writer, Dolly Parton.

Houston's second film, the literary adaptation "Waiting to Exhale," came out in 1995. Once again, she both starred in the film and appeared on the soundtrack. Her single "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Next, in 1996, Houston starred in the holiday comedy "The Preacher's Wife." The soundtrack album was another success for the artist, spawning the hit singles "I Believe in You and Me" and "Step by Step." Houston's final film was the 2012 remake of the musical "Sparkle."

Notable Performances

One of Houston's most famous performances occurred at Super Bowl XXV in 1991 when she sang the US national anthem before the game. Despite the fact that her vocals were prerecorded, the rendition earned praise and became a charting single. Later, in 1994, Houston performed three concerts in the newly unified South Africa. Among her other notable performances was the charity concert special "Classic Whitney: Live from Washington, D.C.," broadcast on HBO in 1997.

Scott Gries/ImageDirect

Personal Life and Death

In the 80s, Houston was in relationships with Jermaine Jackson, Eddie Murphy, and Randall Cunningham. At the end of the decade, she met singer Bobby Brown, whom she eventually married in 1992. Over the years, Brown became infamous for his many run-ins with the law due to drunk driving, battery, and drug possession. Houston and Brown had a daughter named Bobbi Kristina Brown in 1993.

By the late 90s, Houston's behavior had become erratic, and she was becoming visibly gaunt. Rumors that she was abusing drugs with her husband were rampant; in early 2000, she was found with marijuana at an airport in Hawaii. Houston confirmed her use of not just marijuana but also cocaine in an interview with Diane Sawyer in 2002. Over the next decade, she did some stints in rehab.

On February 11, 2012, Houston was found unconscious in the bathtub of her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. A coroner's report determined she had accidentally drowned with cocaine and a number of other drugs in her system.

Whitney Houston Career Earnings

  • The Preacher's Wife
    $10 Million
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