Bret Easton Ellis Net Worth 2022 – Salary, Income, Spouse

Bret Easton Ellis Net Worth 

Bret Easton Ellis has an estimated net worth of $12 million. Bret Easton Ellis is an American novelist, screenwriter, and short story writer. He was born into a wealthy family. His father, Robert Martin Ellis, was a property developer. He earns most of his income from book royalties and movies. 

His first novel was the well-received Less Than Zero, about a group of rich and disillusioned teenagers growing up in Los Angeles. Years later, he followed it up with a sequel titled Imperial Bedrooms. He very often links the characters in his works, as can be seen in his short story collection “The Informers”, which has common characters.

The stories are told by different characters in the first person, although they appear in all the stories. His works are “transgressive” in nature. His book “American Psycho” had problems with women’s associations because of its violence and sexual content. However, it is widely considered his best work to date. “Less Than Zero,” “The Informers,” “American Psycho” and “The Rules of Attraction” were made into films.

He also wrote the screenplay for the films “The Canyons” and “The Curse of Downers Grove.” “Lunar Park” was nominated for the World Fantasy Award for best novel.

To calculate the net worth of Bret Easton Ellis, subtract all his liabilities from his total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity he has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets. All debts, such as personal loans and mortgages, are included in total liabilities.

Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:

Name: Bret Easton Ellis
Net Worth: $12 Million
Monthly Salary: $100 Thousand
Annual Income: $2 Million
Source of Wealth: Novelist, Screenwriter, Author, Film Producer, Writer

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Early Life

Ellis was born in Los Angeles in 1964 and grew up in Sherman Oaks, California. His father, Robert Martin Ellis, was a wealthy real estate developer, and his mother, Dale, was a homemaker. He graduated from the prestigious Buckley School in 1982, the same year his parents divorced. 

After graduation, Ellis left the West Coast to attend Bennington College in Vermont, which is disguised in his novels as the fictional Camden College. While at Bennington, Ellis played in several bands in the 1980s before the publication of his first novel, Less than Zero, brought him wide literary attention in 1985.

His literary success at such a young age led critics to hail Ellis as a leading author of the MTV generation and a member of the literary “brat pack,” along with fellow ’80s writers Jay McInerey and Tama Janowitz, whose works were, like Ellis’s, aggressively marketed to readers under 30.


After graduating from Bennington in 1986, Ellis moved to New York City where he continues to reside today. Though he has given extensive interviews during his literary career, Ellis rarely divulges details of his personal life, beyond his literary relationships with other writers. 

However, a year after the death of his best friend and lover, Michael Wade Kaplan, in 2004, Ellis revealed his bisexuality in a New York Times article. In addition to guarding his privacy, Ellis has routinely refused to provide insight into the meaning or significance of his novels.

Though his style and subject matter have evolved over time, Ellis’s novels have maintained some structural consistencies. He always employs first-person narrators whose reliability is often in question. Typically they are complex but static characters who often reappear in subsequent novels (on the final page of The Rules of Attraction, protagonist Paul Denson muses, “I haven’t changed”). 

His character development usually takes the form of broader cultural exploration, tracing the ways in which unavoidable experiences have formed—and often malformed—his protagonists. For Ellis, the influence of culture often leads to self-deception, which leads the narrators of his novels to shape their worlds according to often perverse cultural fantasies.

Ellis’s engagement with ’80s culture in his early work was typically seen as an attempt to construct an evocative portrait of his generation, leading to comparisons with writers like Jack Kerouac and Ernest Hemingway, with whom Ellis also shares a propensity for vivid and unornamented prose. 

In Less than Zero (1985), the narrator and protagonist, Clay, returns to Los Angeles from Camden College in New Hampshire during Christmas break. While engaging in nearly constant drug use and numerous trysts—both heterosexual and homosexual—Clay encounters a snuff film featuring a 20-year-old girl whom his friends have kidnapped, drugged, and raped; and then witnesses his friend Julian’s violent beating by a pimp to whom he has prostituted himself for drug money. 

Despite this portrait of the nihilistic consequences of a generation abandoned by its parents—and in many ways by itself as well— Clay’s mildly sentimental attachment to a familial past, transitory moral impulses, and a vague sense of duty suggest he could have turned out differently. 

His very name suggests his malleability, and the novel’s portrait of his culture suggests why he has been molded into the disaffected hedonist he has become. Ellis continued to expand his exploration of the amorality and violence of ’80s youth culture in The Rules of Attraction (1987) and The Informers (1994), both of which rely on multiple first-person narrators.

Though the release of Less than Zero sparked some moral backlash, American Psycho (1991) is Ellis’s most contentious work, and likely the most controversial novel released in the United States since Naked Lunch. 

Narrated by a wealthy 26- year-old investment banker named Patrick Bate- man, the novel explores the relationship between status and consumption during the Reagan era and the violence that results from narcissistic self-deception. 

Bateman recounts, in a shockingly articulate and detailed fashion, his murders of homeless people and business rivals, as well as numerous acts of extreme sexual violence. 

But despite his lengthy and detailed account of murdering his associate Paul Owen, Owen turns out to be alive at the end of the narrative, suggesting that the novel’s numerous acts of violence may simply be fantasies of Bateman’s narcissistic and status-obsessed imagination. 

Before American Psycho was published, word of its shocking content spread and, faced with boycott threats by feminist leaders like Gloria Steinem and the National Organization for Women, Random House declined to publish it. 

Knopf soon bought the rights and released it in paperback. Defenders of the novel often note its satiric use of exaggeration—both Bateman’s hyperbolic use of violence and Ellis’s hyperbolization of Bateman—in order to suggest that its grotesque representations are not meant to be taken literally. However, it was the mere depiction of such excessive violence, particularly against women, to which feminist critics most vociferously objected.

American Psycho began a move away from the sparse prose style of Ellis’s earlier novels, which culminated in Glamorama (1998). Perhaps his most ambitious novel, Glamorama also marks a shift in Ellis’s cultural focus from the consumption-obsessed ’80s to the celebrity-obsessed ’90s.

Narrated by a male model, event planner, and B- list actor named Victor Ward, the novel traces the protagonist’s movement from the New York fashion scene through an underworld of international terrorism in Europe.

Ward’s idiosyncratic narrative style leaves the reader uncertain whether the often horrific events he narrates are taking place in reality or on the set of a film, suggesting that the media and fashion industry have created a distorted sense of reality, which the novel portrays as, ultimately, an act of violence against the culture.

Ellis’s critics—like some of his proponents— have often confused the voice of the first-person protagonists of his novels with the voice of the novelist himself, which has led to repeated characterizations of the author as a moral nihilist who has earned a living from the self-indulgent publication of his violent cultural fantasies. In Lunar Park (2005), 

Ellis satirizes these characterizations by creating a character named Bret Easton Ellis, a model of the disaffected, drug-addicted, misanthropic philanderer that his critics have accused him of celebrating in the form of his protagonists; and the ridicule of his detractors’ portrayal is broadened when his fictional persona begins a suburban life by marrying an old lover with whom he had previously fathered a child. 

Developing into a complex and often terrifying ghost story in the tradition of Stephen King, the resulting narrative satirizes the very system of suburban values from which many of his detractors have launched their critiques. 

Though Ellis undermines critical characterizations of himself through the creation of a fictional mask, the reader of the mock memoir is finally offered little insight into the real author of the novel; and this predicament mirrors the reader’s position when attempting to locate a positive value system in Ellis’s broader oeuvre. 

Despite engaging in the moral project of satirizing American cultural values (or the absence of such values), Ellis’s novels affirm no alternative value system and thus would appear to offer little hope of moral revival.

All of Ellis’s works have been, or are in the process of being, released as feature films. As a result of the novel’s instant success, a film version of Less than Zero was released in 1987 and starred Andrew McCarthy as Clay. 

A highly successful adaptation of American Psycho starring Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman was released in 2000. The Rules of Attraction was released in 2002. Glamorama was filmed in 2004 but has yet to be released. Film versions of The Informers and Lunar Park are scheduled for release in 2008 and 2009, respectively. 

In addition to film adaptations of his novels, Ellis was the subject of the documentary film This Is Not an Exit: The Fictional World of Bret Easton Ellis (2000), and he has authored a screenplay, The Frog King, which is scheduled for release in 2009. 

His 2010 “Imperial Bedrooms” is a sequel to “Less Than Zero.” In it, the self-destructive and disillusioned youth of the previous novel returns nearly twenty-five years later as it approaches middle age in the present.

In 2013, he wrote the screenplay for the film “The Canyons.” It is an erotic thriller directed by Paul Schrader. The film is set in Los Angeles and stars Lindsay Lohan and James Deen, among others.

Personal Life & Spouse

Bret Easton Ellis is known to be gay, and Michael Wade Kaplan, to whom he dedicated the book “Lunar Park,” was his lover. However, he does not describe himself as gay or straight.

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Bret Easton Ellis Quotes

I had no idea that ‘Less Than Zero’ was going to be read by anyone outside of Los Angeles, and it’s – believe me, as the writer of the book I’m somewhat amused and intrigued by the idea that 25 years later it’s still out and people are still reading it.


I think basically most men are misogynistic.


Everyone I know who is successful has issues with their father, regardless of whether it was sports or business or entertainment.


I totally relate to Tom Cruise. He’s not crazy, it’s just the litany of the mid-life crisis.


Exploitation is a harsh word, I know that, but on a certain level, to me that is the central Hollywood story.


I feel like I’m not smart enough to answer the questions I’m asked.


Regardless of the business aspect of things, is there a reason that there isn’t a female Hitchcock or a female Scorsese or a female Spielberg? I don’t know. I think it’s a medium that really is built for the male gaze and for a male sensibility.


Every book for me is an exorcism in some way or another, working through my feelings at the time.


Writing a novel is not method acting and I find it easy to step out of it at cocktail hour.

View our larger collection of the best Bret Easton Ellis quotes.

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