Oliver Sacks Net Worth 2022 – Did “Awakenings” Make Him Rich?

With income from his books and career in neurology, Oliver Sacks had an estimated net worth of $5 million at death.

Oliver Sacks, a neurologist, and author, has published a number of books about people with unique diseases. Awakenings” and “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” are two of his works.

Oliver Wolf Sacks was born in London, England, on July 9, 1933. He studied physiology and medicine at Queens College, Oxford. He then studied neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, eventually becoming a professor. 

Sacks wrote extensively about his patients and their diseases. His works include Awakenings, Seeing Voices, and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. Sacks died of cancer on August 30, 2015, at the age of 82.

Today we’re going to discuss how much money Oliver Sacks has and how he builds his net worth.

At the end of this article, we will also tell you how to get rich like Oliver Sacks. So be sure to read to the end.

Oliver Sacks Net Worth At Death

Oliver Sacks had an estimated net worth of $5 million at death. His fortune was left to his lover and charity.

According to the will he filed in Manhattan Surrogate’s Court on Monday, he also left a $1,000 bottle of 1948 brandy to a colleague.

In 2008, Sacks met his partner, writer Billy Hayes, after being celibate for 35 years.

Aside from Sacks’ $1 million apartment on Horatio Street, Hayes will receive $350,000 in a lump sum and another $200,000 in various payments until he dies.

Katherine Edgar, Sacks’ longtime assistant, received $250,000, and his friend and colleague, Orrin Devinsky, received a 1948 bottle of Calvados Couer de Lion.

Through the Oliver Sacks Foundation, the remainder of his money will be used to support mental health and technological advancements.

Sacks died on August 30, 2015, at age 82.

His most famous work is “Awakenings”, which was made into a movie in which he was portrayed by Robin Williams.

To calculate the net worth of Oliver Sacks, 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 student loans and credit card debt, are included in total liabilities.

Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:

Name: Oliver Sacks
Net Worth: $5 Million
Monthly Salary: $30,000
Annual Income: $400,000
Source of Wealth: Neurologist, Best-selling author

Oliver Sacks Family and Education

Oliver Sacks was born into a medical family, the youngest of four brilliant children. His father Samuel was a general practitioner, and his mother Muriel was one of England’s first female surgeons. When World War II broke out in 1939, Sacks was taken to boarding school at the age of six to protect him from the regular bombing raids on London. 

When Sacks returned home four years later, he attended local primary and secondary schools, where he took an interest in science and medicine and occasionally assisted his mother in dissections during her studies.

Like his siblings before him, Sacks had a sharp mind and was successful in his studies. In 1951, he received a scholarship to Queen’s University, Oxford University. Sacks received his bachelor’s degree in physiology and biology in 1954, and he completed his medical degree in 1958. He then completed an internship at a London hospital and worked intermittently as a surgeon in Birmingham.

In 1960, Sacks made a trip to Canada. While there, he sent a telegram to his parents to inform them that he would be staying in North America. Sacks hitchhiked south and ended up in San Francisco. There he got involved in the local scene, tried drugs, and became friends with some of the city’s poets.

Despite all these wild experiences, Sacks remained committed to science. He completed an internship at Mt. Zion Hospital and then a residency in neurology at UCLA. 

What Did Oliver Sacks Discover?

In 1965, Sacks moved to New York City for professional reasons. There he taught at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and worked in various clinics in the area. The first book he ever wrote was based on what he learned during that time.

He found a publisher for his book Migraine in the late 1960s, in which he detailed both his own experiences as a migraine patient and case studies of patients he had met while working in the clinic where he was still employed.

Despite the clinic’s misgivings and attempts to prevent the publication of Migraine, the book was published by Faber in 1970, and Sacks was fired shortly thereafter. 

Sacks used a formula in the book that would become the foundation for most of his later writings: clinical observation, a novelist’s or poet’s ability to tell stories, and an extremely intimate sense of empathy rarely found in medical writing.

How Much Money Did Oliver Sacks Make From Books?

Oliver Sacks had made more than $1 million from book royalties. 

Sacks continued to lead his “double life” as a scientist and novelist, describing his unique medical encounters with a philosophical perspective and an often lyrical inflection. The New York Times once referred to him as “medicine’s poet laureate.” 

In 1985, he wrote The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, a collection of previously published works about illnesses ranging from Tourette’s syndrome and autism to phantom syndrome and face blindness that he had experienced himself. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat is one of his best-known and probably most emblematic works, translated into over 20 languages.

Other works include Seeing Voices (1989), in which he describes sign language and its role in deaf culture; An Anthropologist on Mars (1995), in which he tells the story of seven patients who learned to adapt to their disabilities; and Musicophilia (2007), in which he treats cases of neurological disorders with a musical component. Sacks wrote the autobiographical writings Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood (2001) and Oaxaca Journal (2001) on a more personal level (2002).

Did ‘Awakenings’ Make Oliver Sacks Rich?

Oliver Sacks made more than $1 million from his best-selling book “Awakenings,” contributing greatly to his net worth.

Sacks began working as a consulting neurologist at Beth Abraham Hospital about the same time he began teaching at Albert Einstein College. There he met a strange group of patients who were mute, motionless, and frozen while he worked there. 

Sacks immediately identified their illness as encephalitis lethargica, or “sleeping sickness,” which had been a worldwide epidemic between 1916 and 1927. By administering the then-experimental drug L- DOPA, Sacks was able to revive the patients and relieve their symptoms. However, the patients’ recovery was only temporary, and they quickly reverted to their original condition or developed new, immobilizing diseases.

Sacks wrote Awakenings, a book about these experiences, in 1973. The novel inspired a hospital documentary the following year and a 1982 play, A Kind of Alaska, by playwright and Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter. 

The book was adapted into a highly acclaimed 1990 film starring Robin Williams as Oliver Sacks and Robert De Niro as one of the patients. The film was nominated for three Oscars, including Best Picture.

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What Awards Did Oliver Sacks Receive?

Sacks left Beth Abraham Hospital in 2007 to join Columbia University Medical Centre as a professor of neurology and psychiatry. The university also showed its admiration for Sacks by awarding him the new title of Columbia Artist, which recognised his talents outside of art and science and allowed him to teach in a variety of fields. 

During his teaching and publishing career, Sacks received numerous honours and awards, including honorary fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and honorary degrees from Georgetown, Tufts and Oxford. In 2008, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Oliver Sacks On Death

Sacks’ book The Mind’s Eye was published in 2010. He talked about how patients learned to cope with various sensory impairments. He also spoke about his own eyesight loss as a result of a rare form of ocular cancer he was diagnosed with in 2005 and treated for. In February 2015, 

The New York Times published an editorial by Sacks in which he stated that he had terminal liver cancer, which was linked to his prior eye cancer.

“When individuals die, they cannot be replaced,” Sacks said in an essay about facing his own death. They leave holes that cannot be filled, because every human being has the genetic and neuronal destiny of being a unique individual, finding his own path, living his own life, and dying his own death.” Sacks’ writing on diseases and impairments is based on this assumption.

In April 2015, Sacks’ autobiography, On the Move, was published. During the latter stages of his fatal cancer, Sacks continued to write. 

In a personal essay titled “Sabbath,” published in The New York Times on August 10, he wrote: “And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life — achieving a sense of peace within oneself. I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest.”

On August 30, 2015, Sacks died at his home in New York City. He was 82 years old at the time.

Favorite Oliver Sacks Quotes

“Every act of perception, is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination.”


“My religion is nature. That’s what arouses those feelings of wonder and mysticism and gratitude in me.”


“Music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears – it is a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ear. But for many of my neurological patients, music is even more – it can provide access, even when no medication can, to movement, to speech, to life. For them, music is not a luxury, but a necessity.”


“In examining disease, we gain wisdom about anatomy and physiology and biology. In examining the person with disease, we gain wisdom about life.”


“Language, that most human invention, can enable what, in principle, should not be possible. It can allow all of us, even the congenitally blind, to see with another person’s eyes.”


“Music, uniquely among the arts, is both completely abstract and profoundly emotional. It has no power to represent anything particular or external, but it has a unique power to express inner states or feelings. Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation.”


“When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.”


View our larger collection of the best Oliver Sacks quotes.

Further Reading

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How To Become Rich Like Oliver Sacks?

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