Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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# 230 David Geffen $9.14B

Random fact: Has given more than $300 million to UCLA.


Geffen founded Geffen Records, the music label he sold to MCA for $550 million in 1990. He also is one of the co-founders of DreamWorks SKG, a movie studio he created with Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg in 1994. He also has an art collection, real estate in New York and California, and the 453-foot yacht Rising Sun.

As of :
Last change No change
YTD change No change
Biggest asset Cash
Country / Region United States
Age 79
Industry Entertainment
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

David Geffen's net worth of $9.14B can buy ...

troy ounces of gold
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

of the GDP of the United States
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
of U.S. existing home sales
times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

Geffen's fortune stems from his sale of Geffen Records to MCA for stock valued at $550 million in 1990. A few months later, the music mogul collected more than $700 million when MCA was bought by Matsushita for cash. Much of the after-tax proceeds was invested with billionaire Edward Lampert, who delivered compounded annual returns of more than 20% during the following 12 years, according to a person familiar with his fortune who asked not to be identified because it is private.

He also made investments outside of Lampert's fund, including McKesson. He told Fortune magazine in a July 2013 interview that he owned almost $1 billion in Apple stock. He said in May 2022 that he had sold the position over the past 18 months without providing further details.

The billionaire has made hundreds of millions of dollars selling art, including works by Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns and David Hockney, according to a person familiar with the collection who says he still maintains art assets valued at more than $2 billion. 

His property holdings, which include homes in New York and California, aren't included in the net worth analysis. Past holdings include the old Warner estate in Los Angeles, which he sold to Jeff Bezos for a reported $165 million in February 2020.

Other assets include the 453-foot yacht, Rising Sun. Geffen said he'd give to charity any money he makes from DreamWorks, the studio he started with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg.


Family: Single, No children

David Geffen was born in Brooklyn in 1943. He dropped out of college to work in the entertainment business. After forging a college letter to get a job at the William Morris Agency, he began working as a talent manager, cultivating personal relationships with various musicians, including Jackson Browne and Laura Nyro. He signed many of them to Asylum Records, the music label he founded in 1971, and sold a year later to Warner Communications for $7 million.

Geffen was diagnosed with cancer, a discovery that led to him to retire from the entertainment business and begin teaching at Yale University. After tests revealed that the initial diagnosis was incorrect, he returned to entertainment by founding Geffen Records, a company that would go on to sign artists such as Elton John, Nirvana and John Lennon.

Geffen began dabbling in movies, either by financing ("Risky Business"), producing ("Interview with the Vampire") or championing ("Dreamgirls"). In 1994, he founded DreamWorks SKG with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, eventually carving the company into two units -- publicly traded DreamWorks Animation, led by Katzenberg, and DreamWorks Studios, headed by Spielberg and Stacey Snider.

Geffen had high-profile relationships with celebrities such as Cher and Marlo Thomas before announcing he was gay at an AIDS charity event in the early 1990s. He has given millions of dollars to AIDS and gay-rights causes, including opposition to Proposition 8, an amendment to California constitution that banned gay marriage. UCLA's medical school is named after Geffen, who's donated $300 million to the institution.

  • 1971 Starts Asylum Records.
  • 1972 Asylum merges with Elektra Records; Geffen receives $7 million.
  • 1990 Sells Geffen Records to MCA for $550 million.
  • 1992 Announces he is gay at an AIDS charity event.
  • 1994 Founds DreamWorks with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
  • 2006 Paramount buys DreamWorks live action business for $1.6 billion.
  • 2008 Drops out of active management of DreamWorks' movie business.
  • 2012 Donates $100 million to UCLA Medical School.