Madonna Impresses With a Net Worth of $850 Million
Madge, the Material Girl, the Queen of Pop, Maddie. Whatever we might call her, Madonna is one of the richest singers in the world, with an estimated net worth of $850 million! Not bad for a girl from a rather humble town in the “mitt” part of Michigan.
Madonna has been raking in the cash for over four decades, not only in music but also thanks to her various acting work, publishing deals, endorsements and side businesses. There’s never been anyone quite like her, which is why the pop star’s road to riches has been so fascinating, with numerous reasons as to how she earned her incredible wealth.
A Star Is Born
Madonna Louise Ciccone was born in Bay City, Michigan, on Aug. 16, 1958, to Silvio Anthony Ciccone, the son of Italian immigrants, and a French Canadian mother also named Madonna.
Bay City, a small town on Saginaw Bay — an arm of Lake Huron — lies about 100 miles north of Detroit. Before Madonna put the town on the map, Bay City was primarily known as a trading post after being founded in the 1830s by a French fur trader.
The family moved to Pontiac, Michigan, famous for the cars of the same name. Madonna has six siblings, and she fell squarely in the middle of the birthing order.
In addition to her work in the healthcare sector, Madonna Sr. was also a dancer at one point and got her daughter interested in the arts during childhood.
‘Like a Prayer’
Catholicism was of prime importance in the Ciccone household and was strictly enforced by Madonna’s parents. In fact, Madonna later recalled that “there were always priests and nuns in my house growing up.”
Unsurprisingly, given her religious upbringing, Catholic iconography and themes (“Like a Prayer”) would later on become a running theme in her music.
An Early Tragedy
Sadly, Madonna Sr. developed breast cancer and succumbed to the affliction at just 30 years old. Madonna Jr. was only five at the time, and she has said publicly that the grief informed a rebellious adolescent streak — especially against her new stepmother, Joan.
In fact, she told "Rolling Stone" many years later that her life would have been “completely different” had she not lost her mother so early in life.
A Top Student
Despite her disaffected teenage years, Madonna was nonetheless a solid student and was even offered a full scholarship to study dance at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Representatives for the vaunted Alvin Ailey dance school in New York also took notice of her abilities and invited her to New York for a fellowship.
It went so well that Madonna decided not to return to college and remain in Gotham. She was on her way.
Putting in Her Time
In addition to working the odd-jobs circuit (including waiting tables, dancing and even some nude modeling), Madonna was running around in New York’s city’s music scene of the late-’70s, then famous for its punk and ska sound.
She met and dated Dan Gilroy, with whom she would eventually form her first ensemble — first as a drummer before stepping out front as the lead singer.
Madonna: Destined to Be a Lead
Madonna soon realized that her destiny wasn’t to front someone else’s band but to be the main act. Accordingly, she hired manager Camille Barbone to help find her way around the notorious boys club that was the music biz.
Madonna soon recorded a single, “Everybody,” and became a frequent subway rider as she traversed New York, pushing the song one DJ, one club, one person at a time. By 1982, “Everybody” had become a city dance club staple.
In 1983, Sire Records agreed to release Madonna’s self-titled debut album. In addition to “Everybody,” it contained the now-familiar tunes “Burning Up,” “Lucky Star” and “Borderline.”
Madonna was said to have been paid $5,000 in advance, plus $1,000 extra for songs she wrote herself for the album (“Lucky Star” among them). The album also contained another song that would soon get very much attention: “Like a Virgin.”
‘To Rule the World’
In 1984, Madonna’s sophomore EP, “Like a Virgin & Other Big Hits!” was released on Sire. In addition to the title track, it contained “Holiday,” a rather upbeat track that was soon setting MTV on fire.
That same year, she performed the song on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand,” and when asked what her ambitions were, Madonna famously quipped: “To rule the world.”
Getting to No. 1
The full album, “Like a Virgin,” hit the streets in November 1984, and within weeks, it was clear that Sire Records had a new star on its hands. In addition to “Like a Virgin,” the album included new songs “Dress You Up” and “Material Girl.”
For the video of the latter, Madonna parodied a famous dance number from the Marilyn Monroe flick, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” in which Monroe had sung “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” The album went to No. 1.
Madonna embarked on “The Virgin Tour” in the spring and summer of 1985, hitting 40 cities in two months.
Despite mixed notices from critics, the tour was a smash, grossing $5 million and giving rise to a new phenomenon called “Madonna wannabes,” named for fans who dressed similarly to Madonna’s signature clothing style.
At the 1985 MTV Video Music Awards, Madonna set many a parental eyebrow skyward by performing “Like a Virgin” in a wedding dress on the televised awards show.
She proceeded to gyrate suggestively on stage, no doubt commencing many uncomfortable conversations with children who were watching.
Madge Starts Acting
With her career catching fire, it was time for Madonna to go Hollywood. Her first major acting gig was 1985’s New York-set “Desperately Seeking Susan,” in which she co-starred alongside Rosanna Arquette.
The film did $28 million at the box office, making it a certified hit, if not a box office bonanza. Madonna earned just $80,000 for the film, according to IMDb.
Crazy for Soundtracks
The same year as “Desperately Seeking Susan,” Madonna performed a song for the film “Vision Quest” called “Crazy for You.” She was also given a small role in the film as a nightclub singer, which almost certainly helped sell the single.
The film did modest business, but “Crazy for You” went gangbusters, earning the Material Girl her first No. 1 hit on the Billboard charts.
Madonna’s on a Role
Lead acting roles soon followed, including “Who’s That Girl” (which spawned a song of the same name) and “Bloodhounds of Broadway.”
In 1985, she met actor Sean Penn, and the two married soon after. They also co-starred in “Shanghai Surprise” in 1986, for which Madonna was paid a cool million bucks.
The Madonna-Sean Penn marriage was a tabloid darling, and the paparazzi followed them just about everywhere. Behind the scenes, however, the marriage was in big trouble.
Numerous rumors of infidelity and domestic violence surfaced, and the couple went through a rather messy, public divorce in 1989.
Madonna Gets Comical
Perhaps anxious to put the past behind her, Madonna kicked off the 1990s with a rather large film project, “Dick Tracy,” directed by and starring Warren Beatty. According to IMDb, Madonna was paid only $35,000 for her co-starring role — compared to Beatty, who reportedly took home $9 million for his work. (Hollywood has never been particularly kind to women.)
Despite that huge pay disparity, Madonna released a soundtrack album called “I’m Breathless,” which proceeded to go double platinum, partly thanks to songs “Hanky Panky” and “Vogue.”
Madonna Heats Up MTV
Videos for Madonna’s songs continued to court controversy. While the video for “Vogue” exposed her breasts, the songstress pushed back against attempts to pull it from MTV. (The video was directed by David Fincher, who later made “Fight Club” and “The Social Network.”)
In addition, the video for “Like a Prayer” featured burning crosses, an interracial kiss and Madonna bearing stigmata wounds. Parents and religious groups, and even the Vatican, raised hell, and the complaints were enough for Pepsi to end its $5 million endorsement of Madonna — even though the deal’s provisions allowed her to keep the money.
Becoming a Producer
Getting into producing content in 1992, Madonna became one of the founders of Maverick, a multimedia company that released music, made films and also forayed into publishing.
Among its first outputs was Madonna’s coffee table book of provocative poses called “Sex,” which sold out its first printing in days. Though Maverick eventually folded, it helped aspiring artists such as Candelbox and Alanis Morrisette to sign major record deals.
In 1996, Madonna gave birth to her first child, a girl called Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon. The father was her trainer at the time, Carlos Leon.
That same year, Madonna earned $1 million for the lead role in the movie version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Broadway musical “Evita.”
A Second Marriage
The new century started off pretty well for Madonna. She married British filmmaker Guy Ritchie at a Scottish castle in 2000, and the couple soon had a son. She moved to England full-time, though many people on both sides of the Atlantic snickered at her “new” English accent.
Madonna starred in Ritchie’s 2002 romantic comedy “Swept Away,” alongside Italian actor Adriano Giannini. The film was a commercial and critical disaster, and the marriage took a drubbing in the process.
An Expensive Divorce
In one of the costliest divorces in celebrity history, Madonna agreed to pay Guy Ritchie over $90 million in separation and alimony payments. She also had to hand over control of their shared English estate.
However, she still keeps a home in England to this day, in addition to her other houses in Portugal and Los Angeles.
The Top Earner
Despite her pricey divorce in 2008, that same year Madonna was named the world’s highest-paid female entertainer in the world by "Forbes".
The magazine reported that Madonna pulled in approximately $72 million in a 12-month stretch, which was almost enough to make up for her divorce settlement.
The Biggest Music Tour in History
Madonna’s 2008-09 “Sticky & Sweet Tour” entailed 85 stops over the year in which she was out on the road with her stage show.
The tour grossed a mammoth $400 million, making it one of the most lucrative tour ever for a solo musician — breaking the previous highest-grossing concert tour record, also held by Madonna for her “Confessions Tour” in 2006.
Madonna has recently been prepping for a 43-city world tour that was scheduled for 2024, but in June 2023, she was found unresponsive due to a bacterial infection and landed in the ICU. She's expected to make a full recovery, but the tour has been postponed.
Many, Many No. 1’s
Madonna’s 2009 greatest hits album, “Celebration,” became her 11th No. 1 album in England.
This tied her with Elvis Presley for the most No. 1 albums in the U.K. of all time, according to Biography.
Super Bowl Halftime Show
In 2012, Madonna performed for the halftime show at Super Bowl XLVI, held in Indianapolis, Indiana.
An astonishing 114 million viewers tuned in to watch Madonna perform “Vogue,” “Like a Prayer” and her latest single at the time, “Give Me All Your Luvin’” from her album “MDNA.”
On Top (Yet Again)
In 2013, Madonna again topped the list of highest-earning musicians, ranking atop Forbes’s list of highest-paid artists, male or female. "Forbes" reported that Madonna made $125 million in a 12-month stretch alone.
And in 2014, Madonna was raking in a million dollars every single time she performed.
Madonna’s Other Business Ventures
In addition to her recording and performing income, Madonna’s business ventures include the Hard Candy chain of fitness centers as well as a clothing line called, appropriately enough, Truth or Dare, which was also the title of her 1991 documentary.
However, showing that even the mighty Madonna slips now and again, Truth or Dare went permanently out of fashion in 2018, and Hardy Candy closed up shop the following year.
The ‘X’ Factor
Proving that she was still pop music’s reigning queen after nearly four decades in showbiz, Madonna’s 2019 album “Madame X” went right to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 charts — her ninth such album to do so.
Even though music sales aren’t anywhere near what they were back in the record, tape and CD days, it remains an impressive testament to Madonna’s staying power over 40 years.
It’s Madonna’s World — We Just Live in It
In addition to her little nest egg of $850 million, Madonna is ranked by Guinness as the top-selling female artist ever, with 300 million records to her credit. She is also top of the heap in terms of solo concert performers, with her shows having brought in $1.4 billion over her storied career. Her list of achievements also includes 14 studio albums, several Grammys and VMAs as well as international recognition for her humanitarian work and LGBTQ advocacy. She also has six children, including several adopted from Africa.
While she may not quite be a billionaire (yet), the Material Girl’s career has been impressive, to say the least.