Katharine Graham Net Worth At Death – How Did She Get Rich? Exposed!

Katharine Graham Net Worth At Death

Katharine Graham had an estimated net worth of $6 Million at death. She was America’s first female Fortune 500 CEO. As publisher of the Washington Post, she guided the newspaper to national prominence, most notably when it published The Pentagon Papers and reported on the Watergate scandal. She earned the majority of her income from Washington Post.

Katharine Graham (1917-2001) was one of the world’s most powerful women as the head of the Washington Post Company (1963-91) and publisher of the Washington Post (1969-79). She was publisher when the Post defied the US government and published the classified Pentagon Papers, as well as when two reporters exposed the Watergate scandal during Richard Nixon’s presidency. Graham also helped her company achieve financial success, becoming the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Personal History, her memoir, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998. (1997).

To calculate the net worth of Katharine Graham, subtract all her liabilities from her total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity she 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 her net worth:

Name: Katharine Graham
Net Worth: $6 Million
Monthly Salary: $40 Thousand+
Annual Income: $500 Thousand+
Source of Wealth: Businesswoman

Early Life

Katharine Graham was born Katharine Meyer in New York City on June 16, 1917. Graham was the fourth child in a family of five. She grew up in a wealthy family with many luxuries, but she was estranged from her parents. They even failed to inform her that her father was buying the Washington Post, so the news came as a surprise.

Graham attended Vassar before transferring to the University of Chicago, where she graduated with honors in 1938. She then moved to San Francisco to work as a reporter.

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Marriage and Children

In the fall of 1939, Katharine Meyer returned to Washington, D.C. and met Phil Graham, a Supreme Court clerk. On June 5, 1940, the two married after an intense romance. They had four children together: Elizabeth (nicknamed Lally) in 1943, and Don, Bill, and Stephen in 1945, 1948, and 1952, respectively.

Graham took care of their home and family, as was customary at the time, while Phil focused on his career. When her father needed a replacement for Graham’s brother at the Washington Post (Graham’s brother was unavailable), he turned to Phil, who became the paper’s publisher in 1946. Graham accepted this as natural, and even agreed when her father wanted Phil to own more stock than his wife.

Phil suffered from a major depression in 1957. By the 1960s, he was exhibiting signs of manic depression, drinking excessively and making rash purchases. He also made fun of Graham and made jokes about her. Graham discovered Phil was having an affair when she overheard her husband and his mistress on the phone together in December 1962.

Phil demanded a divorce and control of the Post, but abandoned this demand after entering a treatment facility. Phil came to the couple’s farm in August 1963, having been granted a weekend pass. He was able to access a gun and kill himself there.

Katharine Graham and the ‘Washington Post’

Graham was elected president of the Washington Post Company on September 20, 1963. She hadn’t planned on taking this job, but her husband had recently committed suicide. Taking over the company meant Graham could eventually pass it down to her children.

Graham’s new role was difficult for her because she felt unprepared and nervous, so much so that she found herself practicing how to say “Merry Christmas” before an office holiday party. Despite her lack of formal education, Graham had been reading the Post since her father purchased it at a bankruptcy auction in 1933. She’d also worked for the publication in a variety of capacities, including editorial and circulation.

Working with Ben Bradlee

Graham eventually began to hire her own employees rather than relying on holdovers from her husband’s time as publisher. Ben Bradlee, who became the Post’s managing editor in 1965, was one such hire.

Bradlee’s selection was unusual because he came from Newsweek rather than the Post newsroom, but it turned out to be a fantastic choice because he worked to improve the paper’s quality. Graham saw Bradlee as a partner; though they disagreed, their partnership helped the Post become one of the best newspapers in the country.

The Pentagon Papers

Graham took over as publisher of the Washington Post in 1969. On June 17, 1971, she made the difficult decision to have the classified Pentagon Papers published in the Washington Post. The next day, excerpts from these documents, which delved into the history of the United States’ involvement in Vietnam, appeared.

Graham took this step after the New York Times, the first newspaper to obtain a set of the Papers, was barred from publishing them further by a court order. Her legal team was concerned that publishing would jeopardize her company; if the Justice Department pursued criminal charges, an upcoming stock offering and television licenses would be jeopardized. Graham also knew that the newsroom would resent any delay in publication after struggling to obtain the documents, and she feared losing talented people.

Graham was vindicated by a 6-3 Supreme Court decision on June 30, 1971, which supported press freedom and stated that the information in the Pentagon Papers did not jeopardize government security. Her actions helped raise the Post’s national profile.

The Post, a 2017 film, dramatizes the decision to publish. Graham is played by Meryl Streep, and Bradlee is played by Tom Hanks.

The Watergate Scandal

Following a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex on June 17, 1972, two Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, dug into the story. They would uncover a story of corruption and collusion that would lead back to Richard Nixon’s presidency, but uncovering the scope of the scandal would take time, during which the Nixon administration would do everything it could to minimize the story and disparage the Post.

Between December 29, 1972, and January 2, 1973, license renewals for Post Company television stations in Florida were challenged. The stock price of the company dropped from $38 per share in December to $21 per share in May. There was no direct link between the Nixon administration and these challenges, but on September 15, 1972, tapes made in Nixon’s office revealed the president saying, “The main point is that the Post is going to have some serious issues as a result of this one. They have their own television station… and they’ll have to get it renewed…. And it’s going to be hella active here….”

Though Graham wondered if the entire Watergate story would ever be revealed, she always stood by her reporters. The existence of Nixon’s tapes was eventually revealed, and the president resigned, leaving Graham relieved that he was no longer a target of his administration.

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Career Accomplishments and Women’s Rights

Graham was frequently the only woman in meetings after taking over at the Washington Post Company. Her ability to contribute was frequently dismissed by the men around her, which Graham, who had been raised to believe that women were intellectual inferiors to men, accepted. But she was tenacious, as evidenced by her refusal to re-hire union members who had damaged Post presses during a strike in 1975-1976.

Graham stated in a 1969 interview, “I think a man would be better at this job I’m in than a woman.” Graham wondered, “Which side am I supposed to be on?” when women at Newsweek, which her company owned, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1970. (The case was decided in favor of the women, though change was resisted within the magazine.) Graham, on the other hand, came to support women more, such as refusing an invitation to a dinner at the Gridiron Club in 1972 because the organization didn’t admit women at the time.

Graham’s son Don took over as publisher of the Washington Post in 1979, while she remained CEO. When Graham left this position in 1991 (she was chairman until 1993), revenue had increased from $84 million in 1963 to $1.4 billion; the stock had increased in value 30 times during her tenure.

Social Connections

Truman Capote, the author of In Cold Blood, offered Graham a party in 1966. The Black and White Ball was held on November 28, 1966, at New York City’s Plaza Hotel. Guests included celebrities, artists, socialites, and Capote’s random picks. Graham billed herself as a “middle-aged debutante” for the event, which was a smash hit.

She rose in stature alongside the Post and Graham, becoming a well-known hostess in her own right. Graham’s dinners were some of the most sought-after invitations in Washington, D.C. She also avoided letting politics or partisanship dictate her social circle, which included Adlai Stevenson, Warren Buffett (who also invested in her company and provided financial advice), Henry Kissinger, Nancy Reagan, and Gloria Steinem.

Death and Legacy

Graham died on July 17, 2001, in Boise, Idaho. She’d fallen and suffered a head injury a few days earlier while attending a media conference in Sun Valley.

Graham’s funeral was held at the Washington National Cathedral on July 24, 2001. More than 3,000 people attended because of her impact on Washington, D.C. and the world.

Graham led the Post during a profitable and groundbreaking period, but after her death, times became more difficult for newspapers. The Grahams sold the Washington Post to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for $250 million in 2013.

Lessons From Katharine Graham

Having had difficulty in being taken seriously by many of her male colleagues and employees, Graham always believed that there was no reason a talented woman couldn’t do the job of any man.

Manage people like a “woman”, not like a “man”. Women tend to be better at giving praise and understanding their people, qualities that can give them the edge over male colleagues. Be decisive and behave so that eventually no one notices that you are a woman in a man’s world.     

Look for a company with no women on the board. The directors will need at least one—make sure it’s you.

Favorite Katharine Graham Quotes

To love what you do and feel that it matters how could anything be more fun?

Katharine Graham


A mistake is simply another way of doing things.

Katharine Graham


No one can avoid aging, but aging productively is something else.

Katharine Graham


The thing women must do to rise to power is to redefine their femininity. Once, power was considered a masculine attribute. In fact, power has no sex.

Katharine Graham


Although at the time I didn’t realize what was happening, I was unable to make a decision that might displease those around me. For years, whatever directive I may have issued ended with the phrase, ‘If it’s all right with you.’ If I thought I’d done anything to make someone unhappy, I’d agonize.

Katharine Graham


One doesn’t soon forget the natural beauty of Washington, although those of us who live here do sometimes take it for granted.

Katharine Graham


At least through most of the 1960s, I basically lived in a man’s world, hardly speaking to a woman all day except to the secretaries. But I was almost totally unaware of myself as an oddity and had no comprehension of the difficulties faced by working women in our organization and elsewhere.

Katharine Graham

View our larger collection of the best Katharine Graham quotes.

Further Reading

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How To Become Rich Like Katharine Graham?

Katharine Graham did not become rich by luck. To become as rich as Katharine Graham, you have to work smart.

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