Whitney Houston was an American singer, actress and model who died tragically on February 11, 2012, aged 48, from drowning due to drug overdose. At the time of her death, it was estimated that the “I Will Always Love You” star who sold over 200 million records was nearly broke and had a little under $30,000 in her bank account. Also it was estimated that her total assets at the time were worth $6 million. However, after her death, her posthumous earnings skyrocketed to about $40 million. Read on to discover more on the financial debacle of the multi-award winning artist.
Whitney Houston Net Worth: How She Began
Whitney Elizabeth Houston was born on August 9, 1963 in Newark, New Jersey. Music was inevitable for Whitney as almost everyone around her was a music genius of some sort. Her own mother Cissy Houston was a Grammy winning gospel and soul artist while her first cousin Dionne Warwick and godmother Arethra Franklin were both celebrated music icons. Whitney began displaying her music talent in the church choir where her mom also sang. As she grew older, Whitney honed her vocals under the tutelage of her mother who took her along to nightclubs whenever she performed.
Whitney Houston Net Worth: Rise To Stardom
Though she found more success as a singer, her beauty is credited for her first limelight exposure. During one of her stage performances alongside her mom, she was discovered by a photographer who shorty got her to grace the cover of “Seventeen”, making her among the first African-American to do so. While she excelled in her modelling career, Whitney held on strong to music.
Teenage Whitney began receiving offers from numerous record labels but waited until she was 20 to sign with Arista Records. After several years of work, she released her debut self-titled album in 1985. The album experienced exponential success, churning Billboard Hot 100 hits and peaking atop the Billboard 100 for 14 non-consecutive weeks. The album went multiple platinum and won her multiple awards including her first Grammy.
Whitney’s success continued with her follow-up album “Whitey” released in 1987 which debuted atop the Billboard 200, making her the first black woman to accomplish the feat. The album sold over 20 million copies worldwide and received 9x certification.
Whitney Houston Net Worth: Massive Success With “The Bodyguard”
The year 1992 proved to the extremely successful for Whitney as it was the most lucrative year of her career. Following the massive successes of her albums, high grossing tours and concerts and multiple awards, she dabbled into Hollywood making her debut in the movie “The Bodyguard”. Though her acting was greatly met with negative reviews, the opposite was the case for the movie soundtrack which she recorded- a cover of Dolly Parton‘s “I Will Always Love You”.
The song was so successful it became widely popular as her signature song. It broke multiple records on numerous charts worldwide. The soundtrack sold over 44 million copies and won her 3 Grammy Awards among other coveted awards. The movie itself wasn’t entirely a failure as it grossed over $410 million worldwide. Thanks to the success of the soundtrack and its related projects, Forbes named Whitney Houston as the 3rd Highest Paid Female Entertainer of the year (1993-1994) with earnings of $33 million, bested only by Oprah Winfrey and Barbra Streisand. During these period, Whitney Houston’s net worth was estimated at about $150 million.
Whitney also enjoyed more success in Hollywood; for her role in 1996 movie The Preacher’s Wife, she received $10 million, also the soundtrack for the movie which she recorded became the best selling gospel soundtrack of all time.
Whitney Houston Net Worth: Divorce And Financial Debacle
Despite attaining the peak of her blooming career, 1992 also seemed to mark the beginning of Whitney’s downfall. She had married fellow entertainer Bobby Brown following a three-year engagement and in 1993 their first and only child Bobbi Kristina Brown was born. After a few years of marital bliss, their relationship turned sour as it was characterized by drug abuse, domestic violence and even some jail time for Brown.
Though Whitney initially managed the situation by keeping up with her career, it got the best of her in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Whitney would cancel scheduled interviews or show up late for shows appearing a shadow of herself. More of her personal struggles where put in the limelight with the “Being Bobby Brown” reality show which was cancelled after airing for one season.
Following intervention from her mother, she retired from music and divorced Bobby Brown in 2007. She sold the Atlanta mansion featured in the reality show for $1.2 million.
In her divorce filling Whitney revealed that she was $4 million in debt, had a life insurance worth $300,000, cash of $40,000 and $225,000 in stock. In summary, she had $10 million worth of assets with a total debt of $4 million bringing her net worth at the time to $6 million. Obviously she had blown away multi-millions.
Whitney’s life and career appeared to be going smooth in 2009, the same year she admitted on an Oprah interview to abusing alcohol and drugs. She released her 7th studio album “I Look to You” which also became her last in 2009. To support the album she embarked on “Nothing but Love World Tour” which grossed over $36 million worldwide.
Whitney Houston Net Worth: Death And Posthumous Earnings
While Whitney appeared to have everything under control with upcoming projects including movie “Sparkle” of which she received advanced payments, her tragic death on February 11, 2012 revealed otherwise. She was found dead in a bathtub in her Beverly Hills hotel room as a result of drowning from drug overdose.
At the time of her death, Whitney owed $20 million to Arista records as she was unable to fulfill her end of the $100 million deal they signed back in 2001 when she agreed to record 6 more albums. Whitney recorded just three albums that made $20 million putting her in debt of $20 million as she had already received an upfront pay of $40 million. Thanks to the posthumous sales of her album and earnings from the Sparkle film which grossed over $101 million, Whitney’s estate was able to make $40 million. Her debts were paid off while the remaining $20 million was inherited by her daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown.
Unfortunately, Kristina Brown died in 2015 in the same manner as her mother. She was found immersed in her bathtub intoxicated and unresponsive. She died 7 months later on July 26, 2015 in hospice care. Whitney’s estate (of which Kristina spent approximately 10%) is now left to the benefit of her mother Cissy Houston and her two brothers, Michael Houston and Gary Garland.
Following Kristina’s death, her family filled a lawsuit against her boyfriend Nick Gordon who was later found legally responsible for her death after failing to appear for two hearings. However, Gordon denied any wrongdoing.