Merlin’s beard, that’s a lot of Galleons! The past year’s bonanza of successful “Harry Potter” properties has restored J.K. Rowling to the top of the Forbes list of richest authors, according to The Guardian.
With an estimated $95 million in earnings over the past year, mostly thanks to hit “Potter” spin-offs like the “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” film as well as ticket and script sales for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” Rowling surged past blockbuster machine James Patterson to reclaim the top spot for the first time in nine years. This year also marked 20 years since the debut of “Harry Potter,” giving the perennially popular franchise an extra nostalgia bump.
Rowling may not have topped the list for several years, but her wealth is notable for the literary world. In 2004, she became the first person to achieve billionaire status as an author. Though in 2012, Forbes reported that she’d dropped out of the billionaire club, in part due to British taxes.
Patterson, a thriller writer who makes the most out of his brand by pumping out coauthored books that regularly dominate bestseller lists, earned an estimated $87 million last year. He and Rowling aren’t just competitors for the top earner spot ― both are well-known for their philanthropic giving. Rowling, who always seems to have a Sickle available for a good cause, gave so much to charity that it contributed to her dipping below the billionaire threshold. Forbes estimated in 2012 that she had donated $160 million to causes including her foundation Lumos, which aids children around the world who have been left in orphanages and similar institutions.
Rowling might be earning money faster than she can give it away right now, but that will likely change. The confluence of her new “Harry Potter” projects and the 20th anniversary this year, Forbes producer Hayley Cuccinello told the Guardian, apparently boosted her annual haul by $76 million over the past year, meaning her earnings, in recent years, have been well below this year’s level. But who knows, maybe there will be more “Harry Potter” on the horizon ― we’d be happy to empty out our Gringotts vaults to spend even more time in her wizarding world.