How much?

A flop can cost millions to make, a masterpiece just a few pence. Either way, cash has always been an essential fuel in the creative engine - and sometimes in ways you least expect. Prepare to be amazed by our top tales of art and money...
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Hey, big spender!

You may not know his name, but there's a fair chance Andrew Vicari doesn't care. The Welsh-born artist studied at the Slade and was mentored by Francis Bacon. He has been the official painter for the Saudi royal court since 1974 and last year earnt about £23m. His total fortune, according to the Sunday Times's 2003 Rich List, amounts to around £63m.

Underpaid academics might do well to follow Tim Rice's lead and branch out into musicals. The current professor of Contemporary Theatre at St Catherine's College, Oxford has made his fortune penning songs for Andrew Lloyd Webber hits like Evita and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. He earns £17m a year from his own company as well as about £100m in royalties and his contracts with Disney.

JK Rowling is by far the highest earning fiction writer in the world. Sales for her first three Harry Potter books reached over 35 million across 35 countries. She has recently earned her place in the annual Forbes list of the planet's richest people with an estimated fortune of $1bn (£550m).

From boy band to boy wonder... Robbie Williams made £5m singing, dancing and clowning for Take That, but after he left in 1995, personal problems and addictions left him down and out of favour. EMI reluctantly agreed to sign him in 1996 for £1m but following his phenomenal success as a solo star, EMI re-signed him in 2002 for an undisclosed amount - conservatively estimated to be around £25m, but rumoured to have been up to £80m.

At around £25m a year, big Luciano "Lucy" Pavarotti has an income commensurate with his size. In 2001 the opera singer appeared in court in Italy charged with tax evasion to the tune of £14m between 1989 and 1995. He was later acquitted.

Eighty-one-year-old Lucian Freud could be just the catch for any Ann Nicole Smiths out there - the Sunday Times's Rich List claimed his annual turnover is £12m (from the sale of an average 12 to 15 paintings a year). His wealth has increased in the last decade as his work has become prized in the USA and he is currently estimated to be worth around £150m.

Jade Goody, famous for showing her "kebab" on Big Brother and asking if "East Angular" was abroad, has become reality TV's first millionaire. Among her earnings, she has reportedly made £691,000 from magazine and newspaper deals, £191,000 from TV and personal appearances, £71,000 from her dance workout video and £20,000 for appearing as a wicked queen in a panto in Kent.

The world's richest artist, according to a recent survey by Art Review magazine, is Jasper Johns. A major 1950s work by the American painter would set you back around $10m (£5.5m). The total figure for sales of his 536 works to appear at auction since 1970 is $151,916,043 (around £83m).

You don't have to be a star to earn big bucks in music. Behind the scenes, the virtually unknown Master P, CEO of No Limit records, is the brain behind many successful albums, including Snoop Doggy Dogg's, Da Game Is To Be Sold Not To Be Told. He has an estimated fortune of $56.5m (£31m).

Budget? What budget!

The biggest grossing film of all time is James Cameron's vastly over-budget Titanic. He spent about $200m making it in 1997, but it was the first film ever to take over $1bn (£550m) at the international box office and has generated $1.8bn (around £1bn) in revenue so far. In fact, the movie cost more than Titanic herself: the ship was constructed in 1912 for £1.5m, the equivalent of £66m in 1997.

The six-hour, two-part current National Theatre epic His Dark Materials cost £850,000 to stage, slightly less than was spent on My Fair Lady, but more than the National's other hit show, Anything Goes.

The most costly piece of land art was created by Christo, the US artist, in 1991. He opened 1,340 huge yellow umbrellas on farmland in California and 1,760 blue umbrellas in Japan at a cost of $23m (£12.6m).

The White Stripes' most recent album Elephant cost less than $10,000 (£5,500) to record and has sold nearly three million copies worldwide to date. Compare that to Michael Jackson's album Invincible, which in 2001 cost around $30m (£16.5m) to make and famously flopped (for Jackson), selling a piffling two million copies.

Here's one I bought earlier...

Pablo Picasso's masterpiece Boy With a Pipe, painted in 1905 when he was 24, is set to become the most expensive painting ever sold when it goes under the hammer in May. Sotheby's New York has put an estimate on it of $70m (£38m), but it is expected to fetch a lot more. Currently the record is held by Van Gogh's Portrait of Dr Gachet which made $82.5m (£45m) when it sold at Christie's in 1990. Seven years later, in a private sale through Sotheby's, it went for $90m (£49m).

It's one of the most unusual autobiographies ever published. And now it has a price tag to match. Damien Hirst's 1997 coffee-table sized I Want To Spend The Rest Of My Life Everywhere, With Everyone, One To One, Always, Forever, Now has 344 pages and includes a pop-up shark and scribbles by the infant genius. Shipley, the London art bookshop, is currently advertising a first edition on abebooks.com priced at £450.

The highest price ever paid for a sculpture is $7.5m (£4m) for Antonio Canova's Three Graces. It was bought in 1994 by the V&A and the Scottish National Gallery.

A rare third quarto edition of Shakespeare's Hamlet is expected to fetch up to $2m (£1.1m) when it is auctioned in New York next month. The quarto - dating from around 1600 and the earliest copy of the play remaining in private hands - will be sold at Christie's New York on 14 April.

Want to buy art by a Turner Prize winner? Your pockets had better be deep. A pot by Grayson Perry, who won in 2003, entitled I want to be an artist, was bought for £36,000 by Charles Saatchi at Sotheby's Contemporary art sale in February. According to The Art Newspaper its value in 2000 would have been about £8,000.

Breaking the box office...

If you want to make a box office hit, then you should hire Harrison Ford. Fifteen of the films he has starred in have grossed a total of over $100m (£54.8m) each.

The most successful art exhibition ever held in the UK was "Monet in the 20th Century" at the Royal Academy in 1999. It cost £1.8m to stage, was visited by 813,000 people, and generated £3.9m from ticket office receipts.

The Blair Witch Project cost just $22,000 (£12,000) to make and grossed $240.5m (£132m) world-wide - a record-breaking budget/box-office ratio of 1:10,931.

Fancy a sophisticated night out in the capital? A top price ticket at the Royal Opera House for this month's production of Samson and Dalila will set you back £170. But for highbrow on the cheap, top price tickets for Tête à Tête's new touring opera, Family Matters, are going for £16.

Mel Gibson's new film The Passion of the Christ has broken the US five-day box office record held by The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The controversial religious movie made $125.2m (£68.7m) in its first five days, topping the Oscar-winning Rings' initial box office takings by $1.1m (£6m).

That's some paycheck!

It appears that Elton John still has to work to fund his flower buying habit. He has recently signed a deal to play 75 live shows at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas over the next three years for a reported £30m, or £400,000 per gig.

Charlie Chaplin - who grew up in the Victorian slums of London - made one of Hollywood's most spectacular fortunes. In 1916 the actor cut a deal with Mutual Studio in which he was paid $10,000 a week - around $200,000 (£110,000) in today's money.

Treading the boards... it'll cost ya. Gwyneth Paltrow received a paltry £350 a week for her role in Proof at the Donmar Warehouse in 2002. When you consider that Charlie's Angel Cameron Diaz, currently the highest paid female in Hollywood, earnt £480,000 per week last year, that's slumming it.

Anarchic pop group KLF nailed £1m-worth of banknotes to a wall in 1994. When they returned the money to the Bank of England, they were fined £9,000 for damaging the notes plus a further £500 towards the cost of reprinting. Not satisfied, the K Foundation decided to burn a million pounds instead which they did on the remote Scottish Island of Jura a year later. They brought a suitcase of the charred £50 notes back to London where a gallery tried to purchase them for £1,000 as a "fantastic iconoclastic gesture".

And finally, we'd like to thank...

In one of the largest private gifts to the performing arts, a South African businessman, Donald Gordon, recently pledged to donate £10m to both the Royal Opera House in London and the Millennium Centre in Wales. The reason? It's Gordon's way of celebrating his dual citizenship.

John Jerwood, a millionaire pearl magnate, set up the Jerwood Foundation in 1977. The original investment, and further investments since his death in 1991, remain secret. However, they must have been sizeable as they sustain donations to various arts organisations of about £4.32m a year, a total of over £35m since 1991.

When you're next admiring the Floral Hall at Covent Garden, think of Cuba. Or more specifically, the Cuban-American billionaire Alberto Vilar. He has given an estimated £157m to the arts worldwide, £12m of which went into rebuilding the Royal Opera House's sparkling lobby.

A sharp kick in the shin to anyone who still thinks football equals philistine. John Madejski, millionaire owner of Reading FC and publishing tycoon, has recently donated £3m to the Royal Academy of Arts towards a £6m refurbishment.

American-born billionaire Sir John Paul Getty donated £50m to the National Gallery in 1985 and £17m to the British Film Institute. Shortly after his death in April 2003, he was linked to an anonymous £12.5m donation to the Tate to prevent Sir Joshua Reynolds's Portrait of Omai from going overseas.

Torquil Norman, founder of toy manufacturer Bluebird, gave £6.2m in 1998 to rescue London's Roundhouse Theatre. The space has been used by circus anarchists De La Guarda and the peripatetic RSC but it's currently awaiting £25m to turn it into a creative centre for young people.

Dame Vivien Duffield has given around £30m to the arts through her two charitable trusts, the Clore Foundation and the Vivien Duffield Foundation. The daughter of businessman Sir Charles Clore, she has donated to both the British Museum and the Tate, and almost single-handedly raised £150m for the rebuilding of the Royal Opera House.

27 March is a big day for the Littlewoods Pools millionaire Sir Peter Moores. It is the grand opening of the once derelict 18th-century Compton Verney house in Warwickshire as an arts venue, a project to which he gave £64m. Through the Peter Moores Foundation, established in 1964, he has donated more than £93m of his own money to the arts.

Research by Laura Kern. Sources include: 'The Guinness Book of World Records'; 'The Sunday Times Rich List'; 'The Art Newspaper'; 'Art Review'

Looking for credit card or current account deals? Search here

Comments