What Would Shakespeare be Worth Today?

atkins bookshelf shakespeareAs Falstaff observes in The Merry Wives of Windsor, “Money is a good soldier, sir, and will on.” William Shakespeare is recognized for being a brilliant writer, but he was also a very savvy and successful businessman. As a landowner, commodities investor, prolific playwright, actor, and part-owner of King’s Men (a playing company), and stockholder of the Globe Theater (London’s most successful theater) and Blackfriars Gatehouse, he was able to earn enough money to support his family comfortably in New Place, the second-largest house in Stratford-Upon-Avon. But like many authors and artists, the greatest income is earned after they shuffle off their mortal coils. So let’s imagine that over four centuries Shakespeare’s heirs managed his estate and extended all copyrights for his literary works to the present — how much would Shakespeare be worth today?

In 2005, Forbes contacted experts in the publishing, agenting, and licensing world to provide an estimate. According to them, Shakespeare’s estate would be earning at least $15 million a year (today that would be $18.2 million). Most of the income (about $10 million) would come from publishing royalties of his 38 plays and 154 sonnets that have been translated into 118 languages. According to Nielsen BookScan, in 2004, 675,000 Shakespeare titles were sold. Publishing experts believe that the Bard’s estate would sell 10 million books per year, earning an average of $1 per copy. Performance royalties for 5,000 plays that are performed in theaters each year would contribute about $1 million. Royalties from films would add another $2 million per year. Shakespeare-themed merchandise (who wouldn’t want the Macbeth coffee mug, the Hamlet character set and Lego castle, or the Romeo & Juliet bedsheets?) would contribute another $1 million per year.

But the amount of royalties that the Shakespeare estate would earn annually, pales in comparison to the value of the Shakespeare brand. In 2012, BrandFinance, a London-based brand evaluation firm, estimated that the Shakespeare brand is worth more than $1 billion — more than double of the combined brand values of George Foreman ($149 million), Elvis Presley ($108 million), and Marilyn Monroe ($43 million). Zounds! The report highlights the ubiquitous presence of Shakespeare in the commercial world. Consider that Shakespeare is the best-selling author of all time, having sold about four billion books. Each year, more than 64 million children from all around the world study Shakespeare. In the world of cinema and television, there have been more than 400 adaptations of his plays.

Read related posts: The Most Common Myths About Shakespeare
Shakespeare the Pop Song Writer
Random Fascinating Facts About Shakespeare

Most Common Nicknames for Shakespeare
Most Beautiful Books of Shakespeare’s Sonnets
Were Shakespeare’s Sonnets Written to a Young Man?

What Dictionary Did Shakespeare Use?
Shakespeare’s Portrait as A Young Man Discovered

For further reading: http://www.campaignbrief.com/2012/03/version10-starthtml0000000149-176.html

http://www.forbes.com/2005/10/26/shakespeare-william-earnings_deadceleb05_cz_kb_1027shakespeare.html
http://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/faqs.html
http://www.folger.edu/shakespeare-faq

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