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The Top 20 Wealthiest Villains

Sailun Tires

Payset ploughed through the data surrounding some of the most prominent villains – both real and fictional – to find who tops the rich list of deceitful profits.

Payset’s list features a range of the richest bad guys out there, from Pablo Escobar and his drug trafficking empire which generated profits that would outshine Amazon today, to Tony Soprano and his ownership of Satriale’s Pork Store. To compile this list, Payset used tools to calculate the value of assets and the change in the value of the dollar.

20. Calvin Candie, $71 million

Played by Leonardo Dicaprio, and producing most of his fortune from a Mississippi plantation, the central villain in Django Unchained saw his wealth adjusted from the estimated $2 million in 1858 US dollars to today’s value, which holds at $3,158.48 for every 100 dollars of that period. Calvin Candie owns the fourth largest plantation in Mississippi, which he calls ‘Candyland’.

19. Tony Soprano, $76 million 

New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano, from the TV show The Sopranos’, is one of TV’s most popular anti-heroes. It’s difficult to determine his entire net worth – the typical salary of a mobster in the US can range from $16,000 to $100,000. Using notorious real-life mob boss John Gotti as a benchmark, a rough estimate of Soprano’s annual income would have been between $10 million and $12 million. Tony Soprano also ran multiple businesses such as the recognisable Satriale’s Pork Store, and Bada Bing strip club – he also worked as a waste management consultant for Barone Sanitation. 

18. Magneto, $500 million 

Magneto is a mutant who has the ability to bend and control metal with his mind – this mastermind built his fortune by looting Nazi gold. As the main villain of the X-Men franchise, Magneto excels in various fields of science and technology, even creating mutants and clones. His biggest financial pain came in the form of Vibranium, a substance that he could not bend with his mind – this barrier reversed his power somewhat and leaves the supervillain outside the billionaire circle.

17. George Jung, $593 million 

George Jung was one of the most infamous drug smugglers in U.S. history and became Pablo Escobar’s right-hand man in the process, he was made famous by Johnny Depp’s portrayal in Blow. Documented in Blow: How a Small Town Boy Made $100 Million With the Medellín Cocaine Cartel and Lost It All, the novel sums up the story of George Jung’s illegal activities and wealth. At the peak of his cartel employment, he made $100 million, which in today’s dollars sits closer to $600 million. Encounters with the authorities and unsuccessful business ventures left him with just $10,000 at the time of his death in May 2021. Very different from the peak of his drug running, where he allegedly made $30 million a month.  

16. Commodus, $600 million

Commodus is best known in history for playing a significant role in the demise of the Roman Empire and was famously played by Joaquin Phoenix in the film Gladiator. Incapable of taking the space of his father Marcus Aurelius, he indulged in a luxurious lifestyle and used the empire’s wealth for unnecessary events such as personally fighting thousands of exotic animals in the Colosseum. His wealth was estimated to have been around two million denarii which is worth $600,000,000 today. 

15. Hans Gruber, $640 million

Immortalised by the renowned Alan Rickman, the plot of Die Hard follows Hans Gruber’s effort to loot Nakatomi Plaza of $640 million worth of bearer bonds that are confined at the tower in a high-security vault. Using the false show of a terrorist attack to steal the bonds, Gruberbroke through a 9-lock safe and acquired the goods. However, his success was momentary as protagonist John McClane got rid of Gruber during an intense standoff. Rickman’s portrayal of the intelligent but evil mastermind made Gruber one of the most popular villains of all time. 

14. Tony Montana, $900 million 

Brian de Palma’s triumph Scarface is celebrated as an American movie classic, as it represents the positives and negatives of the American Dream. Coming from Cuba to Miami as a refugee, ex-convict Tony Montana used his desire, ambition and greed to build an empire that is estimated at $900 million. His drug trafficking business was sustained by his shell company Montana Management Company which laundered his wealth into assets and businesses like the trendy, yet dangerous, Babylon Club.   

13. Tywin Lannister, $1.8 billion

Amongst being a master manipulator and cruel leader, Game of Thrones character Tywin Lannister, played by Charles Dance, was above all a savvy businessman. Obtaining most of his fortune from gold reserves sat underneath Casterly Rock (the Lannisters’ domain), he also made some smart financial advances to increase the Lannisters’ wealth. When the Lannisters take power, rather than having the Crown use Lannister’s gold, he directs them to the Iron Bank which serves as a global leader in the TV series. He also provides a revenue stream through interest by ensuring the Lannisters lend to other lords and houses.

12. Terry Benedict, $3.3 billion

Terry Benedict, the central villain of the Oceans trilogy, is the target of a $160 million robbery by the Ocean’s team. In this fictional universe, Terry has a monopoly on the Las Vegas strip which sees him own the Bellagio, the Mirage, and the MGM Grand casinos. A similar comparison to a real-life situation can be found in Steve Wynn, a casino mogul who changed the Las Vegas scene forever – grew his fortune from $45,000 to $3 billion, which comprises his ownership of Treasure Island, the Mirage, The Golden Nugget and The Wynn, and Encore. 

11. Auric Goldfinger, $6.5 billion

The border between reality and fantasy is often blurry when it comes to Bond villains. Each one has their own distinctive style, inspiration, a grand master plan for success and means of ill-gotten gains. In Goldfinger, Auric Goldfinger is the main rival – he is an international jewel dealer and a bullion dealer. His scheme of converting his assets to gold and creating a worldwide financial crisis is obstructed by Bond, but this doesn’t change the fact that he was already hugely wealthy. Factories, golf courses, private jets, a Kentucky farm and several Rolls-Royce Phantom IIIs are just a few examples of his luxury gold-fueled lifestyle.

10. Meyer Lansky, $6.8 billion

Lanksy, aka ‘The Mob’s Accountant’ came from a Polish background but worked his way up to the top of the mob. His part in the crime history of America has been depicted by Ben Kinglsey, Richard Dreyfuss, and Dustin Hoffman. Along with Charles ‘Lucky’ Luciano, he developed the National Crime Syndicate and was considered to have a wealth of around $300 million in 1967. When prohibition ended in 1933, it is believed that he parlayed his wealth through gambling establishments internationally.

9. Ozymandias, $7 billion

The antagonist in Watchmen, Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias) made the unusual decision to donate his entire family fortune to charity, only to build a new empire from scratch. Maybe the most misleading villain out of all on the list, he took inspiration from historical figures, like Alexander the Great, to be humanity’s saviour. Adrian used his billion-dollar empire and superhuman intellect to produce a monster that he would release on New York, believing that it would unite the human race against nuclear war. His ending is puzzling, as when asked whether his plan had worked and whether the nuclear war had ended, Dr. Manhattan replies “nothing ever ends.”

8. Montgomery Burns, $8 billion

Charles Montgomery Burns, the much-beloved tyrant of The Simpsons, has a strong monopoly and holds a lot of power and control over the fictional town of Springfield. He owns Springfield Hall, a laboratory, and most famously, the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. According to a fan theory, he also owns the rights to the popular Christmas song ‘White Christmas’ after a blunder when he tried to buy Picasso’s ‘Guernica’. Owning the rights to this festive track would make him one of the wealthiest villains on the list by far, especially when someone like Mr. Burns would maximise every dollar from owning the rights to such a well-known jingle. 

7. Norman Osborn, $10 billion

Another comic book bad guy who inherited a family fortune; Osborn is an affluent scientist who dominates his industry in the Spider-Man franchise. His company Oscorp developed a super-soldier serum that led to him becoming stronger and more powerful, but far more disturbed. His insanity fueled the creation of the Green Goblin and the tech around this alter ego, whilst still furthering Oscorp which would put the company in the same category as Tesla or Amazon.

6. Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, $14 billion

Arguably one of the world’s most powerful drug traffickers, as well as creator and CEO of the Sinaloa cartel, “El Chapo” Guzman runs a cartel responsible for a quarter of all drugs imported into the US from Mexico. He allegedly still runs the operation whilst in prison. Brought to wider attention in the popular Netflix show, Narcos: Mexico, the series details how Guzman built his empire through meticulous means of control and consolidation, turning a small cartel into a $3 billion revenue business today. Most of his wealth remains hidden and as of now, the FBI has uncovered $14 billion. 

5. Gordon Gekko, $16.5 billion

Made famous by Michael Douglas’ prominent performance in Wall Street, Gekko is the embodiment of Wall Street’s greed and ambition. Based on the real-life characteristics of Carl Icahn, a notorious financier, Gekko was a corporate raider and investor. He is most known for his quote “greed is good ” and the creation of collateralized debt obligations. Gekko is arrested for insider trading and securities fraud – he serves time in prison and is released a few years later. What’s the first thing he does after he gets out? Steals $1 million from his family and turns that into a $1 billion empire after shorting the banks ahead of a financial crash. 

4. Al Capone, $18.6 billion

Capone is often regarded as America’s most renowned gangster. He rose to leadership of the Chicago Outfit during the Prohibition era and was the number one antagonist of the city of Chicago (before they turned their eyes onto “El Chapo” Guzman). At his peak in the 1930s, his fortune exceeded $100 million which would be equivalent to $18.6 billion today. Capone was played by Robert De Niro in the film The Untouchables which details how he was eventually caught due to tax evasion and then sent to Alcatraz. 

3. Kingpin, $20 billion

Known for being one of Spider-Man’s rivals, Wilson Fisk is a wealthy businessman and leader of the New York criminal underworld. He owns a private island, swathes of New York real estate, and is heavily invested in innovative science and technology that’s focus is to investigate the multiverse. This is represented in the film Spider-Man: Into The Multiverse where he builds a giant collider to explore other universes where his family is still alive. 

2. Pablo Escobar, $64 billion

Pablo Escobar, aka “The King of Cocaine”, initially started his trade through the illegal imports and exports of goods like flat-screen televisions and household goods before eventually being introduced into drug trafficking, and the rest is history! Escobar built a drug empire that gave him such a huge amount of wealth that he offered to pay off Colombia’s national debt in an attempt to avoid deportation to the US. To this day, officials still find stacks of cash that were hidden in a number of his properties. At the peak of his power, Escobar controlled the cocaine trade in the United States, making him worth $30 billion. That amount would be roughly around $64 billion in today’s money.

1. Lex Luthor, $75 billion

Lex Luthor, played by Jesse Eisenberg in Jack Snyder’s Justice League, is quite different from most comic book bad guys, as he is a self-made billionaire philanthropist, scientist, inventor, and businessman who devoted his talents to defeating the god-like Superman. Using his monopolisation in political prowess, engineering, and aerospace, he dedicates his existence to the downfall of Superman.


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