Rich Dudes│How Robert De Niro Went From "Taxi Driver" to $500M Tycoon
Discover how legendary Hollywood actor Robert De Niro made his $500 million fortune. From startups to real estate, his investments are as diverse as his acting career.
Updated Jun 22, 2023
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Legendary American actor, director, and entrepreneur Robert De Niro has also made himself known for his wise investments and diverse asset classes, amassing an impressive $500 million net worth. With a rich acting career under his belt, De Niro is no stranger to the spotlight.
Over the years, he has ventured into various asset classes, including real estate, startup investments, and even luxury cars. But De Niro's success isn't just about his thespian prowess—he has smartly leveraged his celebrity net worth, solidifying his place in the Hollywood industry's elite circle.
In 2015, De Niro partnered with James Packer after the billionaire acquired a 20 percent stake in Nobu for $100 million.
We're taking an in-depth look at Robert De Niro's investments, from startups and real estate to his marriage to Grace Hightower and their children, Elliot and Drena De Niro. We'll delve into how this best supporting actor Academy Award winner has used his impressive acting career to take calculated risks and become a shrewd investor in a highly competitive industry.
So, buckle up for an exciting ride through the storied journey of Robert De Niro's immense success, on and off the big screen, and how he strategically navigates the dynamic world of wealth and fame while maintaining his status as one of the most iconic actors in Hollywood history.
Robert De Niro net worth at a glance
Robert De Niro net worth at a glance
August 17, 1943
American born in New York City, USA
Became a millionaire at
Actor, film producer, and entrepreneur
Sources of wealth
Acting and TriBeCa Productions
Entertainment, startups, real estate, and cars
How Robert De Niro made his money
How Robert De Niro made his money
Robert De Niro is a legendary American voice actor, stage actor, and considered to be one of the most influential movie actors of his generation. Born on August 17, 1943, to Virginia Admiral and Robert De Niro Sr. in the Manhattan borough of New York City, De Niro had artistic parents who were both painters.
His talent for acting was discovered at a young age when he began taking lessons at the Dramatic Workshop. He made his debut at age ten, taking the stage as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz.
De Niro attended a few public elementary schools in Manhattan, including PS 41, then Elisabeth Irwin High School, followed by the High School of Music and Art for the ninth grade.
However, De Niro dropped out of high school at 16 to pursue acting and began taking classes at HB Studio and Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio. He was deeply influenced by the acting styles of Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, and James Dean.
Throughout his career in the entertainment industry, De Niro has worked on countless notable movies, collaborating with Martin Scorsese on several of them.
Some of his most recognized works include The Godfather II, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Casino, and The Irishman. He has also played notable television roles, including as Bernie Madoff in the HBO film The Wizard of Lies, earning a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie nomination.
Apart from acting, De Niro has also directed a few films in Hollywood, such as A Bronx Tale. He is also a co-founder of the production company TriBeCa Productions, along with producer Jane Rosenthal—the duo also founded the Tribeca Film Festival in 2002.
In 1989, De Niro co-founded TriBeCa Productions, which later started the Tribeca Film Festival.
De Niro has received numerous accolades throughout his illustrious career, including two Academy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, a Cecil B. DeMille Award, a Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, a Kennedy Center Honor, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Six of his films have been inducted into the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
How Robert De Niro invests
How Robert De Niro invests
Robert De Niro is one of Hollywood's richest actors, with a career spanning nearly six decades and a box office gross of more than $4.3 billion. However, his success is not limited to acting. De Niro has also invested in various industries, including real estate, startups, and even cars.
Let’s take a closer look at De Niro's diverse investment portfolio and the various asset classes he’s ventured into over the years.
Entertainment and brand endorsements
Entertainment and brand endorsements
Robert De Niro is undoubtedly one of his generation's most successful and iconic actors, having made his silver screen debut in 1963 and since appearing in 70 movies with a worldwide box office gross of over $4.3 billion.
De Niro's journey to success traces back to his early days when he was paid just $50 for his first role in The Wedding Party, a fee he received six years later, thanks to the movie's delayed release.
As his career progressed, however, De Niro's salary grew significantly. By the mid-70s, when he won his first Oscar for The Godfather Part II, he was earning around $200,000 per movie.
Robert De Niro made $35,000 for playing the iconic role of Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, making him the highest-paid actor for a single movie at the time.
In the 1980s and 1990s, De Niro became one of the highest-paid actors of his time, earning over $100,000 even for supporting actor roles. By the 2000s, he was earning millions for his roles, averaging around $14 million per film.
In addition to acting, American film producer De Niro has pursued brand endorsements, undoubtedly contributing to his massive net worth. He has appeared in commercials for several brands, including Kia, American Express, Ermenegildo Zegna, Locanda Verde, Nobu, and Switzerland Tourism.
De Niro's foray into directing and production has also been financially fruitful.
His directorial debut movie as a film director, A Bronx Tale, made $17.3 million on a $10 million budget and was nominated for several prestigious awards, including the Golden Lion at the Cannes Film Festival. His second directorial movie, The Good Shepherd, grossed $100 million and was nominated for Best Actor by the Academy Awards.
Finally, his recent appearance in Scorsese's The Irishman, where he co-starred with Joe Pesci, was a massive financial venture. Much of their $175 million budget was spent on de-aging technology to take years off De Niro and his leading men. De Niro's salary for this role is unknown, but it’s assumed to be a significant sum.
De Niro was offered $775,000 per episode for an Amazon show in 2017, but the untitled project was later scrapped. While he's starred in numerous box office hits, De Niro's most successful film was his best supporting actor role in 2019's Joker, earning over $1 billion in revenue worldwide.
De Niro was the lead actor in over 70 movies with a box office aggregate gross valuation of over $4.3 billion.
Overall, Robert De Niro's rise to the top of Hollywood and the wealth he made along the way nothing short of monumental. De Niro's journey is nothing short of a silver screen fairytale, from humble beginnings of making just $50 per role to a net worth of half a billion dollars.
Robert De Niro isn't just a legendary actor—he's a successful businessman, investor, and entrepreneur. He's always on the lookout for new opportunities and invests in a wide range of startups in the entertainment, hospitality, and food industries.
In 1989, De Niro and his partner Jane Rosenthal founded TriBeCa Productions, which has produced several successful films. The company also organizes the Tribeca Film Festival, which has contributed to revitalizing the TriBeCa neighborhood.
De Niro also co-owns the Tribeca Grill, a New American restaurant that opened in 1990. De Niro promoted the Tribeca-based restaurant through his production companies and the Tribeca Film Festival.
De Niro also owns the five-star boutique luxury Greenwich Hotel in the heart of TriBeCa. The hotel has average annual earnings of $27.4 million, making it one of the most lucrative businesses in his portfolio.
In 1994, De Niro co-founded Nobu Hospitality LLC with partners Meir Teper and Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, a restaurant and hotel brand that fuses traditional Japanese cuisine with a modern flair. The venture has been wildly successful, with 50 restaurants and 13 hotels bearing the Nobu name worldwide—its trendy atmosphere is a favorite among celebrities.
Before the pandemic, the restaurant chain aimed to make $1 billion in sales by 2023. De Niro made most of his money from Nobu, making several hundred million dollars every year.
In 2015, De Niro partnered with James Packer after the billionaire acquired a 20 percent stake in Nobu for $100 million. He also invested in Paradise Found Nobu Resort, a company planning to build a luxury resort on the island of Barbuda. The project got delayed after Packer pulled out, but De Niro found another investor in 2019, Daniel Shamoun, and the work commenced that year.
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Robert De Niro has dabbled in several real estate projects, ranging from condominiums to high-end hotels, and is known to be a smart investor in the industry.
De Niro started with one sushi restaurant in New York in 1994 and worked with Shanghai Bund Investment Group to create Project 179, a property complex completed in 2016 that includes a boutique hotel, cinema, global retailers, and an arts center. The design reflected the 1920s, paying homage to Shanghai's rich history while focusing on the city's future.
In 2018, Nobu Hospitality—in which De Niro is a stakeholder—embarked on a Toronto condo-hotel project which completed the following year. It was among the Nobu teams' first mixed-use endeavors, with 660 condos and 36 luxury hotels costing around $231 million.
Nobu Hospitality committed to two more mixed-use developments in the past, including one in Sao Paulo and another in Los Cabos, Mexico. The company also explored opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region, showcasing its interest in locations like Taipei, Hong Kong, Jakarta, and Sydney.
De Niro's real estate holdings include three homes—all in Manhattan, New York. His main home is in the affluent Central Park West neighborhood, and another is the Tribeca building where he hosted his birthday parties at the top-floor house. He also has a rental property in Malibu, California, but he listed it for $21 million in March 2023.
De Niro previously owned a West Village townhouse, which he purchased in 1975. However, he sold the property for $9.5 million in 2012. His most extensive property is in Gardiner, New York, which he purchased in 1998 for $1.5 million.
Robert De Niro invest in real estate projects that offer a mix of residential and hotel opportunities. From his condominium-hotel projects in Toronto to the 76,500-square-meter Shanghai waterfront complex, he's always looking to invest in unique properties that highlight a location's history and will be in demand for years.
Robert De Niro's Malibu home which appeared in the 1995 film ‘Heat’ is now on the market for $21 million.
The 2023 real estate market has seen a 38% drop in active listings, creating affordability issues. Predictions indicate a challenging year ahead of a potential market decline, higher borrowing rates, and tight inventory. However, opportunities exist for investors to refinance at lower interest rates in the future.
Robert De Niro might be known for investing his celebrity net worth in real estate, but when it comes to cars, he has kept his collection relatively small and practical. De Niro's collection consists of only three vehicles: two big American SUVs and an Italian sports car, a far cry from other celebrities who buy exotic and expensive cars.
His car selection reflects his preference for practicality rather than owning a car collection just as a status symbol. De Niro's car collection includes a GMC Yukon XL, a Cadillac Escalade ESV, and a Maserati GranTurismo.
The GMC Yukon XL, which costs $79,000; and the Cadillac Escalade ESV, worth $90,000, are big, comfortable American SUVs offering a premium driving experience. His models have a 6.2-liter V8 engine, 420 horsepower, and 460 lb-ft torque.
The cars have an elegant design and offer a smooth ride. The Yukon XL and Escalade ESV can achieve an EPA-estimated 16 MPG combined usage and 19 MPG on highways.
His third car is the $154,000 Maserati GranTurismo, an Italian sports car known for its sleek design and unique sound. It features a 4.7-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine, producing 454 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque capable of reaching 0 to 60 MPH in 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 184 MPH.
While the car seems luxurious, it remains practical, with the Maserati GranTurismo achieving an EPA-estimated mileage of 16 MPG in combined usage and 21 MPG on highways.