Americans dominate the ranks of the world’s highest-paid entertainers, but these European celebrities give them a run for their money. One-fifth of this year’s Celebrity 100 list members hail from Europe.
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling leads the pack with $95 million, earned over 12 months, before taxes and management fees, by FORBES’ estimate. Rowling, the highest-paid author in the world, also placed third on our list of the world’s highest-paid celebrities. She made nearly half of this year’s earnings from writing about the Boy Who Lived. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a co-written stage play, was the bestselling book in Rowling’s native Britain with 1,372,402 copies sold in 2016. It also topped the charts in the U.S.
The 20 highest-paid European celebrities earned $1.06 billion combined in 12 months before taxes and management fees. Twelve of these European entertainers are from the U.K, including television personalities Gordon Ramsey (No. 6, $60 million) and Simon Cowell (No. 12, $43.5 million). Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland each claim one entry.
Professional athletes account for half with three footballers, three racing drivers, two tennis players, one golfer and one mixed martial artist. Cristiano Ronaldo, representing Portugal, places second with $93 million, thanks to his contract extension with Real Madrid, his CR7 brand and endorsements. Irish UFC star Conor McGregor, who placed second to last with $34 million, will rise near the top next year’s list largely due to his match with Floyd Mayweather.
Only two women number among the 20 highest-paid European entertainers, reflecting the overall gender disparity of the Celebrity 100, which is 84% male. British songstress Adele (No. 4, $69 million) is the only woman among the European ranks asides from Rowling.
The 15-time Grammy winner is one of seven music acts on the list, including highest-paid band Coldplay (No. 3, $88 million) and Paul McCartney (No. 8, $54 million). The former Beatle, who sells out arenas and reaps seven-figure nightly grosses, recently spoke to FORBES about the importance of owning your own work.
“It’s difficult when you’ve written [songs] for nothing, to pay $50 million to get them back,” says McCartney, who was named one of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds by FORBES. McCartney credits his lawyers, John and Lee Eastman, for making the list. “It’s important to have good people around you… In recent years, they’ve helped me recover my copyrights.”
Earnings estimates are based on data from Nielsen, NPD Bookscan, Songkick and PollstarPro, as well as interviews with industry insiders. All figures are pretax; fees for agents, managers and lawyers are not deducted.