Over the weekend I saw a report related to the late Anthony Bourdain’s estate only being worth $1.2 million at the time of his death. Assuming that the former celebrity chef and TV personality’s estate would have been worth much more, I decided to look into the matter further. What I found out about Bourdain’s past was both tragic and probably all too common.
Before I go any further, I know some of you are thinking that $1.2 million sounds pretty good and wish your own net worth had that many zeros behind it. But, considering his estimated annual income was $5 million a year1, his net worth would be the equivalent of someone who makes $60,000 a year having a total net worth of about $15,000. So what caused someone viewed by the world as highly successful to have so little to show for his efforts?
Prior to his death Bourdain discussed some of the financial mistakes he had made in interviews, admitting that despite being an accomplished NY chef, he didn’t even have a savings account or health insurance until he was 44. Prior to publishing his hugely successful cookbook Kitchen Confidential, he acknowledges irresponsible behavior including drug use and frivolous spending had caused him to be buried in credit card debt and to not file taxes for over 10 years. Even after several hit TV shows and multiple best-selling books his net worth was only a fraction of what many experts estimated it should have been. He even once admitted that those who estimate his net worth to be higher “assume that I live much more sensibly than I do.” In fact, at the time of his death, Bourdain only had $35,000 invested. Most of his net worth was in the form of personal property or intangible assets like future royalties, frequent flyer miles and residuals.2
As some of you might recall, I recently wrote about the importance of having a financial plan early in life and the important role both saving and investing have in securing your future. Sadly, for some the unwise financial habits people develop early in life carry over to the rest of it as well.
I don’t pretend to know the personal struggles that led to Bourdain ‘s choice to end his own life, but I can’t help but think that part of the cause might have been a lack of purpose or meaning that he felt in his life. I believe that this can sometimes be a direct result of living an opulent and self-centered life. The way in which he was clearly not a good steward of the blessings and talents God had given to him, is something we should all learn from.
My intention in writing this article is not to pass judgment on the man, but instead to hopefully make a positive out of a negative. Through this tragedy, my hope is you and I can learn a valuable lesson about the shortness of life here on earth, and how the decisions we make impact not only ourselves, but the ones we love around us. If even for a second this article causes you to reexamine the choices you are currently making to insure that they are leading to positive outcomes rather than negative ones, then I think my efforts in writing this article have been worthwhile.
Advice is intended to be general in nature