Clive Davis is the real rich man in the circle. The 79-year-old record producer and music industry executive is worth $800 million. The music mogul has been at the center of Houston’s life since he signed her to his Arista recording label in 1983. During the last decade of her life, singer, actress, producer, and model Whitney Elizabeth Houston squandered millions of dollars she’d earned and relied almost entirely on Davis for financial support.
(Nippy) as she was known to family had signed a $100 million recording contract with Davis in 2001. Her net worth at the peak of her career was $150 million. She had earned as much as $30 million per year touring, acting and selling merchandise, but at the end, the diva was living on advances on a future album for Davis. Houston had also received money in advance for her role in the upcoming movie, Sparkle.
Actually, the amount of money Houston is projected to make posthumously is far greater than any paycheck she’s seen in years. Houston’s and Davis’ stock has been rising since she died. The day after her death, iTunes increased the price of her songs from 99 cents to $1.29. Similar to the way in which Michael Jackson’s estate increased after his death, demand for Houston’s singles and albums will grow and become valuable commodities.
Nippy went from a middle-class household to penthouses and wealth. She began singing in a junior gospel choir and earned money for backup vocals she provided artists such as her mother Cissy Houston and Chaka Kahn. During Houston's career as a fashion model she appeared on the covers of Seventeen, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan magazines. Houston sold more than 170 million albums and had 2 Emmy Awards, 6 Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards and 22 American Music Awards. She held the all-time record for the most American Music Awards (AMAs) of any single artist and shared the record with Michael Jackson for the most AMAs ever won with 8 in 1994.
However, Houston was “just the voice” and did not write or own the masters of her most popular songs. Houston’s recordings, “How Will I Know”, “Saving All My Love” and “I Will Always Love You”, were all written and produced by others. Country star Dolly Parton wrote and owns the masters to “I Will Always Love You” and has earned $10 million in royalties to date.
At the time of her death, Houston was divorced from “the other man in her life.” So, all her wealth goes to their daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown. In 1992, on the grounds of her Mendham, N.J. mansion, Houston married R&B singer Robert Barisford "Bobby" Brown. The couple lived a stylish lifestyle, and Houston also bought homes in Miami, Los Angeles and Atlanta. During their 12 year marriage, Brown had several run-ins with the law. Brown has fathered five children: Landon, La'princia, Robert Jr., Bobbi Kristina, and Cassius.
When Houston decided to end her marriage to Bobby, many fans faulted her for taking so long in light of the marriage’s history of infidelity, scandals, drug and alcohol arrests, and marital problems. The relationship was dysfunctional and a mere 5 years after signing the $100 million contract, the New Jersey mansion faced foreclosure. In recent years, Whitney hadn’t paid property taxes, or her mortgages, and had run up a debt of more than $1 million as she teetered on the brink of financial ruin. Houston was able to save the New Jersey property but lost the Atlanta mansion. Since her death, the “12,000-square-foot home on five acres with a hot tub and pool” the couple had shared is on the market for $1.75 million.
(William Reed is head of the Business Exchange Network and available for speaking/seminar projects via the BaileyGroup.org)