David Geffen Net Worth
David Geffen has an estimated net worth of $9.3 billion. He is an ambitious, energetic music and movie executive who established a vast Hollywood-based empire, featuring Geffen Records and DreamWorks. He earned the majority of his income from businesses.
David Geffen, born on February 21, 1943 in New York City, is a record and film producer who co-founded DreamWorks with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg. Geffen founded numerous other businesses, including Geffen Records, DGC, and the Geffen Film Company. He also contributed to the success of Dreamgirls, Little Shop of Horrors, and the hugely profitable Cats.
To calculate the net worth of David Geffen, 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 loans and personal debt, are included in total liabilities.
Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:
|Net Worth:||$9.3 billion|
|Monthly Salary:||$40 Million+|
|Annual Income:||$500 Million+|
|Source of Wealth:||Businessperson, Theatrical producer, Film Producer, Music executive, Record producer, Television producer|
David Geffen, born on February 21, 1943, in Brooklyn, New York, is widely regarded as the richest man in the American film industry. The ambitious, energetic music and movie executive established a vast Hollywood-based empire as a self-styled “boy from Brooklyn” who became a millionaire by the age of 25. He cofounded Dreamworks with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, ensuring that he will continue to shape the global entertainment landscape into the next century.
His parents were Russian Jews who had moved to Brooklyn’s thriving Russian community. Abraham Geffen, Geffen’s father, was a pattern maker. His mother, Batya, ran a small shop where she made and sold women’s underwear. Geffen claims to have learned the fundamentals of business from his mother’s knee.
Geffen, an avid reader, was inspired to pursue a career in entertainment after reading Hollywood Rajah, the life story of movie mogul Louis B. Mayer. “I saw these moguls and the world they built and thought it would be a fun way to make a living,” he told Forbes magazine. Geffen studied music and drama in high school, where he also established a reputation for his outgoing personality, which would serve him well later in life. By 1998, his net worth had risen to more than $1 billion. Geffen, who is single and openly gay, splits his time between New York City and a beach house in Malibu, California. He enjoys collecting fine art, but his main passion is his work. He is said to spend the majority of his time on the phone, closing deals and listening to creative pitches.
Geffen left high school in 1960 to attend the University of Texas at Austin, rather than California. He only lasted one semester before dropping out due to poor grades. He held a variety of odd jobs in New York before landing a job as an usher at the CBS-TV studio. He was passionate about his work. “I got to watch them rehearse TV shows with people like Judy Garland and Red Skelton,” he explained to Forbes, “and I was thinking, ‘Well, I’m not talented, what can I do?'” He worked his way up to the position of receptionist on the CBS show The Reporters, but was fired after suggesting some script changes to a producer. When the show’s casting director joked that Geffen might make a good agent, Geffen pursued the idea. He called the William Morris Talent Agency, which had the biggest ad in the Yellow Pages. In 1964, he began working in the mailroom there, earning $55 per week sorting letters, but he quickly aspired to greater things. “”I’m delivering mail to people’s offices, and I hear them on the phone, and I think, I can do that,” he told The New Yorker. Make a phone call. This is something I’m capable of.”
Geffen began cultivating relationships with musicians. A year and a half after joining William Morris Talent Agency, he was promoted to junior agent and was soon managing the career of promising singer/songwriter Laura Nyro. This led to meetings with other rising stars like Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, and Janis Joplin. Geffen made his first million dollars in 1969 by selling the music publishing company he co-founded with Nyro.
Geffen cofounded Asylum Records in 1970 with Elliot Roberts, a friend from his time at William Morris. Geffen honed his talent for spotting new talent and trends in the entertainment industry at Asylum Records. Geffen signed some of the hottest rock and roll acts of the early 1970s, including Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, and The Eagles, often on the basis of a single demo tape. Geffen nurtured the relationship he had established with these artists after signing them by treating them fairly and providing them with artistic and career advice. When he sold Asylum Records to Warner Communications in 1971, it was one of the biggest deals in the music industry at the time.
Geffen remained president of Asylum Records until its merger with the Warner label Elektra in 1973. During this time, his major coups included signing Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and The Band to the new Elektra/Asylum label, which went on to become one of Warner Communications’ most profitable subsidiaries. Geffen had established himself as a major player in the recording industry and was looking for new challenges.
One of them occurred in 1975, when Warner Communications chief Steve Ross asked Geffen to become vice chairman of Warner Brothers Pictures. Geffen jumped at the chance despite having no prior experience in the film industry, but he only had mediocre success during his first year on the job. He felt suffocated by the corporate decision-making structure and requested a portfolio that was less structured.
Geffen returned to his first love, the music business, in 1980, after a four-year semi-retirement caused by a false diagnosis of terminal cancer. With Warner’s help, he founded Geffen Records and began acquiring new and established talent. Among the artists who released records on the Geffen label were John Lennon, Elton John, and Donna Summer. The Geffen Film Company was founded two years later, with assistance from Warner. The company’s first release, the 1983 comedy Risky Business, was a huge hit with audiences and helped launch the career of then-unknown Tom Cruise. Geffen also expanded his portfolio to include Broadway and off-Broadway theater during this time. He contributed to the success of Dreamgirls, Little Shop of Horrors, and the hugely profitable Cats.
In 1984, Geffen renewed his record deal with Warner, retaining a 100 percent equity stake in the company. While Geffen continued to deal personally with older acts such as Neil Young and Cher, he increasingly relied on the assessments of younger executives more in tune with 1980s musical tastes. The policy paid off in the late 1980s with the signing of Guns N’ Roses, a Los Angeles-based hard rock band whose first two albums sold over 14 million copies. Geffen sold his recording operation to the Music Corporation of America (MCA) in March 1990, at the end of a six-year contract, for $6.13 million and $50 million in stock options. Almost immediately, he established DGC, a new record label he hoped would attract forward-thinking bands. The shift in strategy paid immediate dividends, as Nirvana, one of DGC’s first acts, scored a breakthrough hit with their 1991 album Nevermind.
DGC remained a dominant market force well into the 1990s, fueled by the explosion of “grunge rock.” Meanwhile, Geffen’s other businesses were doing nearly as well. His production company was responsible for the hits Interview with the Vampire and Beavis and Butthead Do America. Miss Saigon and M. Butterfly benefited from a theater boom in New York. In 1994, he cofounded DreamWorks, a film studio and entertainment production company, with director Steven Spielberg and former Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg. Geffen was initially hesitant to return to the film industry full-time, but the creative opportunities were too appealing to pass up. “I asked myself, ‘How can I turn this down?'” Geffen told the Los Angeles Times. “I’m 52, and if I don’t do this, I’ll get tired, lazy, and bored. But being with these guys will keep me clinging to a train moving at 300 miles per hour.”
The epic film Amistad, directed by Spielberg, was released in 1997 to widespread critical acclaim. Saving Private Ryan, Antz, and the TV sitcom Spin City were among his other notable projects. Less successful ventures, such as the film In Dreams and the television series Ink, may have hampered Dreamworks’ ability to secure financing for its proposed new Hollywood studio, Playa Vista, which Dreamworks executives announced in 1995. In 1999, the production company announced that it would focus on its existing operations rather than the proposed new studio, which would have been Hollywood’s first in more than 60 years.
However, this did not imply that Dreamworks would disregard innovative projects. On October 26, 1999, the company announced a partnership with Imagine Entertainment to launch Pop.com, an internet entertainment company that will offer short films, streaming video, live events, games, performance art, and ongoing series.
Controversy and Causes
Geffen’s influence in shaping popular culture as a recording industry and movie executive has earned him some significant criticism. In the late 1990s, a series of deadly shootings in American high schools sparked a public outcry that linked such heinous acts to increased violence in contemporary movies and entertainment. When President Clinton urged the entertainment industry to reduce its emphasis on violence in May 1999, Geffen responded “Why not point the finger at the libraries? They have a lot of violent books.” Geffen went on to argue in a phone interview with The New York Times that any action to reduce children’s exposure to movie violence should not infringe on artistic freedom. “You need to talk to psychiatrists before you talk to people in music, entertainment, video games, or even gun control,” he said.
Geffen’s net worth is estimated to be well over $1 billion. He contributes a significant portion of his annual salary to the David Geffen Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to his favorite causes. These include AIDS research, which he has vigorously supported since publicly announcing his homosexuality in the early 1980s. Aside from financial contributions, Geffen has tirelessly lobbied Washington on behalf of AIDS research and gay rights. He took out full-page newspaper ads in 1993 to protest President Clinton’s policy on gays in the military. Nonetheless, Geffen continues to support Democratic politicians, hosting a Hollywood party in 1999 that raised approximately $1.5 million for Democratic congressional candidates.
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