There’s no question that Prince is a musical legend. There’s also no question that his legend status extends above and beyond Black music and culture — and has, instead, entered the pop culture zeitgeist.
But when one truly considers the numbers achieved by the musical great — and at the time he did it — it makes his accomplishments even more impressive.
According to Forbes, Prince Rogers Nelson — as he was called on the day of his birth — sold more than 100 million units of his songs from the day of their first release in the 1970s until the day he died in April 2016. That number, as we will see, spiked significantly in the wake of his death.
Despite his musical prowess, however, some songs — and albums — were more popular than others. It’s perhaps unsurprising that “Purple Rain” — perhaps his best-known album thanks to the super-smash song, “When Doves Cry” — is the best-selling album of his career.
“Purple Rain had 3,107,000 buyers in the Soundscan Era, that is 1992 to date, and so easily tops the list of albums by sales,” reports the outlet.
What’s more, even songs that Prince wrote — but didn’t sing — have earned him money and accolades. The Bangles’ breakthrough hit, “Manic Monday” — written by the Purple One thanks to an unrequited crush on the lead singer, Susanna Hoffs — has been spun more than 243,000 since 1993. And Sheila E’s “The Glamorous Life” and Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” — both written by Prince — have enjoyed equal and greater success.
Let’s take a look at Prince’s estate by the numbers.
Editorial note: The net worth listed in this piece is a speculative estimate drawn from a variety of online sources.
How Much Was Prince Worth At The Time of His Death?
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Prince’s estate had an estimated value of between $200 million and $300 million when he died in April 2016.
The Current Value of His Estate
Despite his legendary status — and career — it was only recently that Prince’s estate was finally settled.
According to Entertainment Weekly, an agreement was reached between the IRS and Comerica Bank and Trust — which is the administrator of Prince’s estate — in January 2022. At that time, the value of the estate was determined to be $156.4 million.
At the beginning of the estate battle, Comerica estimated that the estate was worth about $82.3 million, but the IRS determined that Prince’s heirs undervalued the estate by more than 50 percent, according to the outlet.
What’s more, the estate continues to generate money for his heirs. Investopedia reveals that in the month after his death, Prince generated more than $2.5 million in sales for his albums — and he was the best-selling artist of 2016 despite not releasing any new music that year, beating out artists like Adele and Drake.
Beginning in 2018, the outlet reports that “remixes” of his existing songs and other unreleased material began enjoying success as the estate worked to release them.
Who Are His Heirs?
NBC reports that Prince died intestate (that is, without a will). And because he had no wife or children at the time of his death, his next of kin was his five half-siblings.
Fun fact: Three of Prince’s half-siblings are represented by L. Londell McMillian — in addition to being an attorney, McMillian is the owner of The Northstar Group, which publishes Jones Magazine and The Source Magazine.
What’s more, since the debate about Prince’s estate first began, two of Prince’s half-siblings have died, and two more are in their 80s.
But, they aren’t the only ones who are enjoying the fruits of Prince’s labor.
“Lawyers and consultants have been paid tens of millions of dollars to administer his estate and come up with a plan for its distribution,” reports the outlet. “In the end, the estate will be almost evenly divided between a well-funded New York music company — Primary Wave — and the three oldest of the music icon’s six heirs or their families.”