Frank Lloyd Wright Net Worth at Death – Salary, Income, Earnings

Frank Lloyd Wright Net Worth

Frank Lloyd Wright had an estimated net worth of $3 million at death in 1959. That’s equivalent to $25 million in today’s dollars, after adjusting for inflation. Frank Lloyd Wright was a modern architect and writer who developed an organic and distinctly American style. He designed numerous iconic buildings such as Fallingwater and the Guggenheim Museum.

Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the greatest forces in American architecture. After college, he became a senior assistant to architect Louis Sullivan.

Wright then established his own practice and developed a style that became known as the Prairie School, striving for an “organic architecture” for homes and commercial buildings. Over the course of his career, he created numerous iconic buildings around the world.

To calculate the net worth of Frank Lloyd Wright, 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: Frank Lloyd Wright
Net Worth: $25 Million
Monthly Salary: $100 Thousand
Annual Income: $5 Million
Source of Wealth: Architect, Artist, Designer, Interior designer, Educator, Writer, Visual Artist

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Early Life

Wright was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin, on June 8, 1867. Anna Lloyd Jones, his mother, was a teacher from a large Welsh family who had settled in Spring Green, Wisconsin, where Wright later built Taliesin. William Carey Wright, his father, was a preacher and musician.

Wright’s family relocated frequently during his childhood, residing in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Iowa before settling in Madison, Wisconsin, when he was 12 years old.

He spent his summers in Spring Green with his mother’s family, falling in love with the Wisconsin landscape he explored as a child. “The modeling of the hills, the weaving and fabric that clings to them, the look of it all in tender green or covered in snow or in full glow of summer that bursts into the glorious blaze of autumn,” he reflected later. “I still feel as much a part of it as the trees, birds, bees, and red barns do.”

Wright’s parents divorced in 1885, the year he graduated from high school in Madison, and his father moved away, never to be heard from again. Wright enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that year to study civil engineering.

He worked for the dean of the engineering department and assisted acclaimed architect Joseph Silsbee with the construction of the Unity Chapel to pay his tuition and support his family. The experience convinced Wright that he wanted to be an architect, and he left school in 1887 to work for Silsbee in Chicago.

Prairie School Architecture

A year later, Wright began an apprenticeship with the Chicago architectural firm of Adler and Sullivan, where he worked directly under Louis Sullivan, the great American architect known as the “Father of Skyscrapers.” Sullivan, who rejected ornate European styles in favor of a cleaner aesthetic summarized by his maxim “form follows function,” had a profound influence on Wright, who would eventually carry out Sullivan’s dream of defining a uniquely American style of architecture. Wright worked for Sullivan until 1893, when he violated their contract by accepting private commissions to design homes, and the two split up.

In 1889, a year after starting work for Louis Sullivan, the 22-year-old Wright married Catherine Tobin, a 19-year-old woman, and they had six children together. Their home in Chicago’s Oak Park neighborhood, now known as the Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio, is regarded as his first architectural masterpiece.

After leaving Adler and Sullivan in 1893, Wright established his own architectural practice there. The Winslow House in River Forest, designed the same year, is the first example of Wright’s revolutionary style, later dubbed “organic architecture,” with its horizontal emphasis and expansive, open interior spaces.

Over the next few years, Wright designed a number of residences and public buildings that became known as the “Prairie School” of architecture. These were single-story homes with low, pitched roofs and long rows of casement windows made from locally available materials and wood that was always left unstained and unpainted to emphasize its natural beauty.

The Robie House in Chicago and the Unity Temple in Oak Park are two of Wright’s most famous “Prairie School” structures. While such works established Wright as a celebrity and his work received widespread acclaim in Europe, he remained relatively unknown outside of architectural circles in the United States.

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Taliesin Fellowship

Wright abruptly abandoned his wife, children, and practice in 1909, and moved to Germany with a woman named Mamah Borthwick Cheney, the wife of a client. While in Germany, Wright put together two portfolios of his work with the acclaimed publisher Ernst Wasmuth, raising his international profile as one of the top living architects.

In 1913, Wright and Cheney returned to the United States, and Wright designed them a home in Spring Green, Wisconsin, on the land of his maternal ancestors. Taliesin, which means “shining brow” in Welsh, was one of his most acclaimed works.

However, tragedy struck in 1914, when a deranged servant set fire to the house, destroying it and killing Cheney and six other people. Despite his grief over the loss of his lover and home, Wright immediately began rebuilding Taliesin in order to, in his words, “wipe the scar from the hill.”

Wright was commissioned by the Japanese Emperor to design the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo in 1915. He worked on the project for the next seven years, creating a beautiful and revolutionary structure that Wright claimed was “earthquake-proof.” The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, which devastated the city only one year after its completion, put the architect’s claim to the test. The only large structure to survive the earthquake was Wright’s Imperial Hotel.

When he returned to the United States, he married sculptor Miriam Noel in 1923; they were married for four years before divorcing in 1927.

Another fire, this time caused by an electrical problem, destroyed Taliesin in 1925, forcing him to rebuild it. Wright married his third wife, Olga (Olgivanna) Ivanovna Lazovich, in 1928. She was also known as Olga Lazovich Milanov, after her famous grandfather Marko.

When architectural commissions dried up in the early 1930s due to the Great Depression, Wright turned to writing and teaching. He published An Autobiography and The Disappearing City in 1932, both of which have become architectural literature classics.

The Taliesin Fellowship, an immersive architectural school based out of his own home and studio, was founded the same year. Five years later, he and his apprentices began construction on “Taliesin West,” an Arizona residence and studio that housed the Taliesin Fellowship during the winter.

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Fallingwater Residence

By the mid-1930s, as he approached 70 years old, Wright appeared to have peacefully retired to run his Taliesin Fellowship before bursting back onto the public stage to design many of his life’s greatest buildings. Fallingwater, a residence for Pittsburgh’s acclaimed Kaufmann family, marked Wright’s return to the profession in dramatic fashion in 1935.

Fallingwater is a series of cantilevered balconies and terraces built atop a waterfall in rural southwestern Pennsylvania that is both shockingly original and breathtakingly beautiful. It is still one of Wright’s most famous works, a national landmark widely regarded as one of the most beautiful houses ever built.

Other Work and the Guggenheim Museum

In the late 1930s, Wright built approximately 60 middle-class homes known as “Usonian Houses.” These sparse yet elegant houses were the aesthetic precursor to the modern “ranch house,” employing several revolutionary design features such as solar heating, natural cooling, and carports for automobile storage.

During his later years, Wright began to design public buildings in addition to private homes. In Racine, Wisconsin, he designed the famous SC Johnson Wax Administration Building, which opened in 1939.

Wright proposed a stunning design for the Monona Terrace civic center overlooking Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1938, but was unable to proceed with construction due to a lack of public funding.

In 1943, Wright began a project that consumed the last 16 years of his life — designing the Guggenheim Museum of modern and contemporary art in New York City. “For the first time art will be seen as if through an open window, and, of all places, in New York. It astounds me,” Wright said upon receiving the commission.

The museum is a massive white cylindrical building spiraling upward into a Plexiglas dome, with a single gallery along a ramp that coils up from the ground floor. While Lloyd’s design was divisive at the time, it is now regarded as one of New York City’s finest structures.

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Death and Legacy

Wright died on April 9, 1959, at the age of 91, just six months before the Guggenheim opened its doors. He is widely regarded as the greatest architect of the twentieth century and the greatest American architect of all time, having perfected a distinctly American style of architecture that emphasized simplicity and natural beauty in contrast to Europe’s elaborate and ornate architecture.

Wright designed over 1,100 buildings during his lifetime, nearly one-third of which were completed during his final decade, with seemingly superhuman energy and persistence.

The historian Robert Twombly wrote of Wright, “His surge of creativity after two decades of frustration was one of the most dramatic resuscitations in American art history, made more impressive by the fact that Wright was seventy years old in 1937.”

Wright lives on through the beautiful buildings he designed, as well as through the powerful and enduring idea that guided all of his work — that buildings should serve to honor and enhance the natural beauty surrounding them.

“I would like to have a free architecture,” Wright wrote. “Architecture that belonged where you see it standing — and is a grace to the landscape instead of a disgrace.”

Even after his death, the renowned architect remained in the news. The Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center was completed in 1997, nearly 60 years after Wright delivered his designs, after Wisconsin finally approved funding for Wright’s planned structure on the shores of Lake Monona in Madison.

Wright’s final residential design, the Norman Lykes Home in Phoenix, Arizona, went on the market in January 2018.

The circular mountainside home, designed shortly before Wright’s death in 1959 and built in 1967 by apprentice John Rattenbury, is considered a finely preserved example of Wright’s later style.

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