Marilyn Monroe: How Much Was the Hollywood Legend Worth at the Time of Her Death?

Marilyn Monroe died 57 years ago today. She was 36 years old. 

The Hollywood icon died of an overdose on Aug. 5, 1962, which police ruled a probable suicide after her psychiatrist discovered the actress in the bedroom of her home in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. Monroe had taken a fatal amount of sedative, according to History.

While there have been conspiracy theories (a popular one is that John F. Kennedy and/or his brother Robert were responsible for her death because of her alleged affair with the then-president) about Monroe’s death, authorities have remained steadfast about their original findings. 

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe. | Baron/Getty Images

Decades later, Monroe’s estate has been making money on her blonde bombshell persona by selling varying types of merchandise including posters (it’s hard to enter a college dormitory and not see at least one poster of Monroe), clothing, and more.

But how much money did Monroe have at the time of her death? Continue reading to find out about Monroe’s personal fortune and what happened to her estate in the wake of her untimely death. 

Marilyn Monroe’s net worth 

At the time of her death, Monroe had a personal fortune of $10 million adjusted for inflation, according to Celebrity Net Worth

In the months leading up to her death, the actress purchased the Brentwood home she would later die in for $90,000. Although some of the films she starred in flopped, she did have a number of box office successes including 1959’s Some Like It Hot, The Seven-Year Itch (1955), Bus Stop (1956), and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). 

Marilyn Monroe’s will 

Monroe had a will at the time of her death and left her fortune to a handful of people close to her. According to NPR, the actress left the majority of her money to her acting coach, Lee Strasberg.

Arthur Miller, Marilyn Monroe, and Paula Strasberg.
Marilyn Monroe, Arthur Miller, and Paula Strasberg. |
Bettmann / Contributor

She left money to her psychoanalyst, Marianne Kris, set up a trust so her mother, who had spent much of her life in mental institutions, would be cared for, and gave her half-sister, whom she didn’t know existed until the age of 12, a sum of money.

Also in her will, Monroe stated she wanted her personal effects and clothing to go to her friends and colleagues. 

Lee Strasberg and Marilyn Monroe’s estate 

As we said above, Strasberg (and his wife Paula) received the bulk of Monroe’s fortune when she died. When Strasberg died in 1982, his second wife, Anna Strasberg, gained control of Monroe’s estate.

She later hired CMG Worldwide, a company known for handling estates of dead celebrities, to license Monroe-themed products, which were very lucrative and included deals with Coca-Cola and Mercedes-Benz. 

Marilyn Monroe happy birthday dress
Marilyn Monroe’s famous “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress. | Scott Nelson/AFP/Getty Images

Then in 1999, Anna went against Monroe’s wishes in her will and put many of her possessions up for auction (Think: the gown she wore to JFK’s birthday party — it went for upwards of $1 million — and the baby grand piano Mariah Carey bought that used to belong to Monroe’s mother).  

Later, for $20-30 million, Anna sold the rest of Monroe’s estate to another company after enduring a number of lawsuits. 

While Monroe’s estate has switched hands, she continues to be a Hollywood icon.