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Forbes Named A Star Wars Icon The Richest Celebrity Of 2024

When you think of the richest people on the planet, business magnates like Bill Gates and Elon Musk likely spring to mind. But as the entertainment industry has grown increasingly global and consolidated (for better or worse), plenty of actors, musicians, and other celebrities have joined these boring old suits in the "too much money for any human being to reasonably use in their lifetime" category. And according to Forbes' recently published list of the richest celebrity billionaires in 2024, the #1 spot doesn't belong to LeBron James, Rihanna, or even Taylor Swift, but George Lucas.

The 79-year-old "Star Wars" creator has lived such a private life since selling his Lucasfilm production company to Disney in 2012 that you may have forgotten just how much money he's made over the years. Forbes estimates that the writer-director's net worth clocks in at $5.5 billion. That places him just ahead of fellow filmmaker and longtime friend Steven Spielberg on the list, who's valued at $4.8 million. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimates Lucas is worth far more at nearly $8.4 billion.

A majority of that money came from Lucas' sale of Lucasfilm. Disney bought the studio, and with it, "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones," for a whopping $4.05 billion, much of which Lucas said at the time that he hoped to spend on his various philanthropic endeavors. Disney claims to have made $12 billion since buying Lucasfilm, so it seems that the investment has paid off for both parties — although it's up for debate how George Lucas really feels about having sold "Star Wars."

George Lucas struggled at first after selling Star Wars

Though he was substantially involved in the early development of "Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens" (and to a lesser extent with subsequent projects), George Lucas seemed a bit torn on his decision after the first film in the sequel trilogy came out. In a 2015 interview with Charlie Rose, he likened the sale of "Star Wars" to a breakup. "These are my kids," he said, referring to the original six films (via The Guardian). "They wanted to do a retro movie. I don't like that."

Disney's creative angle with "The Force Awakens" was clearly meant to evoke the original trilogy, avoiding the themes and aesthetics of the prequels due to the ridicule they received from both critics and audiences. In the same interview, Lucas defended the prequels and explained that he prefers to make each project its own thing rather than a throwback. "I worked very hard to make them completely different," he said, "With different planets, with different spaceships — you know, to make it new."

In later years, though, Lucas seemed to mellow on Disney's "Star Wars." He praised "The Last Jedi" as being "beautifully made" upon its release, perhaps because it dared to do something new in the "Star Wars" universe — something many viewers lambasted it for. In 2024, Lucas has also thrown his substantial weight as a Disney shareholder — weight he gained through the sale of Lucasfilm — behind CEO Bob Iger and the current corporate administration.

Lucas has vocally supported Disney in 2024

Despite his previous criticisms of Disney, George Lucas seems to have overcome whatever issues he previously had with the company. In 2024, as investor Nelson Peltz has attempted a coup to take several Disney board seats from Bob Iger's in-house contingent, Lucas has spoken out in support of the current CEO. "Creating magic is not for amateurs," Lucas said in a statement (via the Los Angeles Times). "When I sold Lucasfilm just over a decade ago, I was delighted to become a Disney shareholder because of my longtime admiration for its iconic brand and Bob Iger's leadership."

Much of what Disney paid for Lucasfilm came in the form of stocks, and as evidenced by Lucas' placement on the Forbes celebrity billionaires list, that decision seems to have paid off: Lucas is the company's largest individual shareholder today.

Lucas' support for Iger is a huge boon to Disney's current "Star Wars" endeavors, which include a long-awaited return to theaters for the franchise in the next few years. Some fans may still grieve that we never saw what Lucas' own "Star Wars" sequel trilogy would have looked like, but it seems like he fully supports the current direction of the company that put him atop that Forbes list.