Robin Williams was an American actor and stand-up comedian. He won the 1989 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and he also received two Emmy Awards, six Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and five Grammy Awards. He starred in critically acclaimed movies, such as "Good Will Hunting" and "Good Morning, Vietnam." The actor committed suicide on Aug. 11, 2014.
Robin Williams' Net Worth
Williams left behind an estate estimated somewhere between $50 and $100 million. The estate is divided among many asset classes, including real estate, art and investments. The estate is comprised of such physical assets as a Napa Valley mansion and home in Tiburon, California.
His image licensing, as in most situations with deceased celebrities, would normally provide the estate the opportunity for additional earnings. However, Williams put a restriction clause in a trust agreement that bars anyone from using his likeness for 25 years after his death. This means that the future earnings of his estate are limited, and his surviving children only have access to the current dollar value.
Robin Williams' Estate
Williams' widow, Susan Schneider, and his three adult children battled in court over the outcome of his estate until 2015.
Schneider reported that she was not receiving enough money to maintain the home in Tiburon, California, where she lived with her two children and Williams before his death. On the other side, Williams' children from prior marriages claimed their stepmother was trying to adjust the terms of their dad's trust.
The fight continued until Schneider finally agreed to remove her petition to keep most of her late husband's belongings. This allowed the estate to be split rather simply. Schneider was able to keep the possessions that held emotional value for her, such as wedding gifts, clothing, a watch and a bike. The actor's children then received almost everything else they requested, including more than 50 bikes, 85 watches and over 1,000 individual items, such as Williams' Academy Awards and the actor's clothing.
The exact terms of the agreement were not reported, but lawyers close to the case said that Schneider will receive enough support to continue living in the Tiburon home during her lifetime. The Williams children will eventually own the property.
The Future of His Estate
Williams' Napa Valley mansion was originally listed for sale in the summer of 2012 for $35 million. It was subsequently re-listed shortly before the actor's death at a price of just under $30 million. Variety reported that the property eventually sold in 2016 after a series of further price cuts; the 20,000 square foot mansion sold for $18.1 million, roughly half of its original asking price. The purchasers were French wine makers Alfred and Melanie Tesseron.
In August of 2018, Forbes reported that Williams' ex-wife, Marsha Williams, would auction off a large collection of furniture, art, and other Hollywood memorabilia previously owned by the actor and comedian. The auction took place in the fall of 2018 at Sotheby's. A report indicated that proceeds of roughly $6 million went to charities, including the Wounded Warrior Project, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
The restrictive clause that Williams put in place to protect his image licensing means that his family cannot profit off of his likeness until 2039. This prevents his name, photograph, voice or signature from being used in any film, advertisement or endorsement.
This puts a large cap on the future value of his estate. Estates of other entertainers have been able to charge as much as $500,000 for the use of entertainers' images in advertisements. A few outlier deals have topped $1 million. Estates of deceased entertainers, such as James Dean, earn royalties on clothing sold with the entertainers' likenesses on it.
This highlights how lucrative image licensing can be for deceased celebrities. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) once reported, in another example, that Michael Jackson's estate owed $700 million in taxes, based on the estimated value of his likeness and intellectual property.