David Letterman Net Worth (2020) – How He Made His Fortune

By Ryan Williams
David-Letterman-Networth-FI
9 September 2020
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David Michael Letterman is an American television host, writer, comedian, and producer.

He hosted late-night television talk shows for 33 years, the most well-known series being the ‘Late Show with David Letterman’.

Today, we’re going to be diving deep into David Letterman net worth and career, we’ll be looking at:

  • How he made his fortune
  • Career earnings
  • His House, and car collections
  • How he likes to spend his money
  • Lots more…

It’s a super-interesting career – my favorite part is his luxurious car collections!

Keep reading to know more…

Lights, Camera, Action…

Let’s get started…

Who Is David Letterman?

He’s a former talk show host, film producer, voice actor and so much more – and David Letterman has achieved a massive net worth of $400 million all told.

This is a tremendous fortune and the question that comes to mind is how exactly did he do it?

To answer this question, we first have to look at his life and career.

This talented celebrity personality who became a household name has been appearing on our television screens for decades.

So here’s more about how he came to become the multi-millionaire he is today.

David Letterman Quick Overview: 

  • Net Worth: $400 million
  • Date of Birth: Apr 12, 1947
  • Gender: Male
  • Relationship Status: Married
  • Children:Harry Joseph Letterman
  • Profession: Television Host, Comedian, Film Producer, and Screenwriter, Talk Show Host, Actor, Announcer, Voice Actor
  • Nationality: American
  • Last Updated: 2020

David Letterman Net Worth

How Much Is David Letterman Worth?

YearNet Worth $
19801,000,000
19827,000,000
199242,000,000
199331,500,000
200440,000,000
200740,000,000
200932,000,000
201342,000,000
201535,000,000
2020400,000,000
Total$400,000,000.00
David Letterman has a net worth of a jaw-dropping $400,000,000.00 according to Bouncemojo.com”

David Letterman Career Earnings By Year

Even though he retired from late-night TV in 2015, this comedian is still a major celebrity who makes a stir whenever he re-enters the spotlight.

Most recently, that includes being one of the highest-paid streaming stars for his limited-run Netflix talk show.

The comedian got started in the talk show game in 1980 with a morning show on NBC, but the network canceled it just a few weeks into its run.

Late Night with David Letterman, which debuted early in 1982, was much more successful and kept him on TV screens across the country for more than 33 years.

David Letterman Net Worth

More than thirty years on a major TV network meant Letterman could build a substantial fortune.

He might not be the wealthiest TV host ever

… but Dave Letterman sure comes close. Estimates of his net worth vary slightly, but it’s safe to say he has circa $400 million in assets.

An estimate by The Richest pegs his net worth at $425 million and shows how his fortune grew in lockstep with his fame and notoriety.

Letterman earned a $1 million salary from his truncated first TV show. By the time he took the reins of Late Night with David Letterman in 1982, his salary was up to $7 million per year. During his prime years, he earned as much as $40 million a year, and the money just keeps on rolling in.

Yes, you read that right. Dave is pretty well minted, let’s say.

David Letterman Net Worth

David Letterman’s Early Life

Television personality and talk show host David Letterman was born on April 12, 1947, in Indianapolis, Indiana, to his parents Harry Joseph Letterman, a florist, and Dorothy, a church secretary who was a correspondent on his late-night talk show.

He has two sisters named Janice and Gretchen.

Letterman attended the Broad Ripple High School and worked at the local Atlas supermarket.

What was the springboard to his career in Journalism?

He studied radio and television at Ball University in Muncie, Indiana, and graduated in 1969. He completed a four-year double major in journalism news/telecommunications.

He worked in Indianapolis as a radio talk-show host, the host of a children’s program and a late-night movie show, a news anchor, and as a television weatherman, where his brand of humor was already evident.

Want to know more? Read it in his BounceMojo Bio.

David Letterman’s Early Life

Business Ventures, Endorsements, TV Shows & Books

In addition to his successes as a late-night talk show host, Letterman is a brilliant writer and producer.

He has a reputation for downplaying his financial status because he’s just a low key kind of guy who doesn’t brag about his fame or success.

The majority of his net wealth has been earned through his appearances, salary, and revenues generated from his Worldwide Pants production company.

Worldwide Pants

Worldwide Pants Inc., is an American television and film production company owned and founded by our Comedian and former talk show host David Letterman.

It was founded in 1991.

The company was formerly headquartered at the Ed Suvillan theater building in New York City (1993-2015) but has since moved to Los Angeles, California (2015-present).

David Letterman Net Worth

Productions:

CBS

  • Late Show with David Letterman (1993–2015)
  • The Building (1993)
  • Bonnie (1995–1996)
  • The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder (1995–1999)
  • Welcome to New York (2000–2001)
  • Everybody Loves Raymond (1996–2005, co-produced with Where’s Lunch and HBO Independent Productions)
  • The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn (1999–2004)
  • The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (2005–2014, co-produced with CBS Television Studios 2012–2014)
  • The Late Late Show (guest hosts) (January–March 2015, co-produced with CBS Television Studios)
David Letterman Net Worth

ABC

  • The Knights of Prosperity (2007)

HBO

  • The High Life (1996)
  • Foo Fighters Sonic Highways (2014, co-produced with Roswell Films, Therapy Content, and Diamond Docs)

NBC

  • Late Night with David Letterman (1982–1993, co-produced with Carson Productions)
  • Ed (2000–2004, co-produced with Viacom Productions)

PBS

  • Coming Home: Military Families Cope with Change (2009, co-produced with Sesame Workshop and Lookalike Productions)
  • Families Stand Together: Feeling Secure in Tough Times (2009, co-produced with Sesame Workshop and Lookalike Productions)
  • Sesame Street: When Families Grieve (2010, co-produced with Sesame Workshop and Lookalike Productions)

Netflix

  • The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)
  • My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman (2018–present, co-produced with RadicalMedia)

 

David Letterman Net Worth

David Letterman Books

For eight years, David has been a late-night phenomenon.

Ever since the first Top Ten List premiered, the feature has consistently been one of the most popular segments of the show.

David Letterman Books

The “Late Night with David Letterman”: Book of Top Ten Lists

Now 175 of the most outrageous Top Ten Lists have been collected in one hilarious volume.

David Letterman Investments

David Letterman took some of his money and invested in real estate.

He spent $10 million total for 108 acres of land in Westchester County, N.Y., just north of New York City.

Letterman has property in Martha’s Vineyard and St. Barts. He is also the owner of a ranch in Montana that works bison and other real estate investments.

All said and done, it’s estimated that David Letterman has amassed a net worth of $400 million. He’s come by it honestly through his hard work and careful investments.

But we’re not through yet.

Now, let’s go over the night talk show host’s charitable acts.

David Letterman Net Worth

David Letterman Philanthropy

David Letterman has a ton of money, but he also has a big heart and gives freely to charity and the less fortunate.

Between 2011 and 2013, he donated nearly $600,000 to Habitat to Humanity, according to Inside Philanthropy.

The publication also states that he gave a $10,000 grant for cancer research to Case Western University in 2011.

Each year, the Letterman Telecommunications Scholarship at Ball State University awards $18,333, including $10,000 to the winner. The American Foundation for Courtesy and Grooming he founded in 1993 has given away at least $1.2 million over the years, according to Forbes.

Indeed, the comedian has a heart of gold as witnessed through his charitable generosity.

#David Letterman Net Worth

David Letterman Controversies & Litigation

Just like any other celebrity, Letterman has had his fair share of controversies that triggered the curiosity of different media outlets. And to dig deeper into that, let’s take a look at the issues Dave encountered throughout the years.

David Letterman vs Jay Leno (1992)

On May 22, 1992, Johnny Carson, the host of NBC’s The Tonight show, retired from the program. However, it was rumored that David World would take over hosting the show, but Carson chose Jay Leno instead.

As a result, David resigned from NBC and had his night show CBS which began in 1993.

Late Show with David Letterman became the rival of NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

David Letterman Net Worth

David Letterman vs Robert Halderman 2009

In October 2009, Robert “Joe” Halderman, the former CBS news provider, was accused of blackmailing Letterman for $2 million. Letterman said in his show that someone had threatened him to expose his sexual affairs with female staff employees in the form of a screenplay and a book if he was not paid off.

In the end, Halderman pleaded guilty to attempted grand larceny in the second degree and received a six-month jail sentence, to be followed by year’s probation and 1,000 hours of community service.

He was released from Rikers Island on Sept. 2, 2010, after serving four months of his six-month sentence.

But you may be wondering how much money David Letterman has, and what does he spend his money on?

David Letterman Net Worth

How David Letterman Spends His Money

When you’re as rich as David Letterman, luxury is a given, and spending big on a variety of luxurious items comes easily.

David Letterman has spent his money on some notable investments, starting during the late 90s when he bought a small stake in an auto racing team, which later became Rahal Letterman Racing.

He’s also a big fan of cars and he spent considerable sums on them over the years.

He has an admirable car collection worth over $1.2 million. His cars include several Ferraris that are worth well over $1 million on their own and he’s believed to be paying as much as $26 thousand in taxes a year for his car collection alone.

How David Letterman Spends His Money

Another major item David Letterman spends his enormous wealth on is his land investments.

He owns a bunch of land in various parts of New York, such as 108 acres of land he acquired in Westchester County at a cost of $5 million. Other landed properties owned by David include properties in Martha’s Vineyard, ST. Barth’s and in Montana.

When it comes to his money, however, the former talk show host isn’t spending it on a ton of material things alone. A man with a philanthropic heart, Letterman has given out over $2 million in publicized philanthropic efforts since he became a wealthy man.

But wait – there’s more.

Let’s look at his cars and houses

Ready, let’s go…

David Letterman Net Worth

David Letterman’s Houses

Dave has used his financial prowess to become something of a real estate magnate.

He owns a 108-acre estate in Westchester County, New York (purchase price: $5 million for 88 acres in 1994 and $5 million for the rest in 2007); a 2,700-acre ranch near Choteau, Montana; a place on Martha’s Vineyard; and a house in St. Barth’s.

David Letterman’s House in Martha’s Vineyards

David Letterman House

David Letterman’s House in St. Barth’s

David Letterman House

David Letterman’s House in North Salem, NY

David Letterman House

David Letterman Cars

Letterman has an impressive collection of cars.

He has owned:

  • ten Ferraris
  • eight Porsches
  • four Austin Healeys
  • two Honda motorcycles
  • one Chevy
  • one Mercedes-Benz
  • one Jaguar
  • an MG
  • a Volvo
  • and a Pontiac.

David Letterman’s car collection will make any car enthusiast green with envy.

Let’s take a look at some of the vehicles in his fleet.

1960 Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite

Estimated value: $33,800

It’s clear how this Austin-Healey got the Bugeye Sprite nickname.

David Letterman Cars

1973 Chevrolet C20 Cheyenne

Estimated value: $34,700

The classic Chevrolet Cheyenne pickup resides in David Letterman’s garage.

David Letterman Cars

1959 MGA Twin Cam 1588CC

Estimated value: $57,000

You’ll find a 1959 MGA Twin Cam roadster in David Letterman’s collection.

David Letterman Cars

1988 Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe

Estimated value: $84,700

David Letterman’s car collection includes a Porsche 911 1988 Carrera Coupe.

David Letterman Cars

1961 Austin-Healey 3000 MK1

Estimated value: $97,000

An Austin Healey 3000 is one of several cars from the automaker Letterman owns.

David Letterman Cars

1988 Ferrari 328 GTS

Estimated value: $112,000

If you’re nice, maybe David Letterman will let you take his 1988 Ferrari 328 GTS for a spin.

David Letterman Cars

1956 Austin-Healy 100-4 BN2

Estimated value: $130,000

David Letterman owns a sporty Austin Healey 100-4 BN2. Cute as chips.

David Letterman Cars

1955 Jaguar XK 140

Estimated value: $137,000

The Jaguar XK 140 is a British beauty and one of David Letterman’s cars.

David Letterman Cars

1964 Porsche 356C

Estimated value: $173,000

The classic Porsche 356C is worth the same as a family home

David Letterman Cars

1961 Porsche 356 Cabriolet

Estimated value: $275,000

It’s not the most valuable car David Letterman owns, but the Porsche 356 Carrera Cabriolet might be the prettiest.

David Letterman Cars

1983 Ferrari 512 BBi

Estimated value: $300,000

The sleek 1983 Ferrari 512 BBi is part of Letterman’s collection.

David Letterman Cars

1969 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS

Estimated value: $369,000

A 1969 Ferrari 246-Dino GTS is one of the vehicles in David Letterman’s car collection.

David Letterman Cars

1963 Ferrari 250 GTE

Estimated value: $531,000

The 1963 Ferrari 250 GTE wasn’t a hit at the time, but it’s a classic now – half a million bucks of a classic at that…

David Letterman Cars

1956 Porsche 356 1500 GS Carrera

Estimated value: $855,000

The 1956 Porsche 356A 1500 GS Carrera is one of the most prized Porsches out there.

David Letterman Cars

1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso

Estimated value: $1.85 million

At almost 2 million bucks, his 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso is one of the most valuable cars in David Letterman’s garage.

David Letterman Cars

1985 Ferrari 288 GTO

Estimated value: $2.7 million

A 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO is one of the prized possessions in David Letterman’s collection. Look at that baby!

David Letterman Cars

All vehicle values are estimated courtesy of Hagerty.

Almost there—but we’re not quite done yet.

Let’s find out some fun facts about one of the nation’s favorite TV hosts.

Fun Facts About David Letterman

  1. He tosses a pencil at the end of every show, but they have erasers on both ends – haha.
  2. He covered for Johnny Carson a whopping 51 times… before losing The Tonight Show to Jay Leno.
  3. He uses parts of his older monologues in new ones for comedic effect.
  4. He was credited in several movies as Earl Hofert, which is his uncle’s name
  5. He once congratulated a tropical storm for being upgraded to a hurricane.
  6. Moved to LA in 1975 and worked as a stand-up comedian and a writer for sitcoms such as Good Times and The Paul Lynde Comedy Hour.
  7. Was voted Class Smart Alec at his home town high school, Broad Ripple High

5 Lessons For Financial Freedom From David Letterman

1- Always remember the power of humor.

David Letterman has had his share of struggles in his very public career, but the one thing he showed us is that laughter really is the best coping mechanism. Even on his last show, he avoided tears by focusing on the positives… all of the fun episodes and amazing moments he helped create.

2- Never forget where you came from.

Everyone knows David Letterman is from Indiana. While he’s lived in the greater New York area for decades, he’s an Indiana boy.

He never overlooks an opportunity to remind people where he’s from, brag about his home state, or use his resources to assist those at home. It would be easy to move to New York and forget small-town Indiana but Letterman hasn’t done so.

Wherever we go in life, we all should have a deep sense of gratitude for where our lives began and the people who made our success possible.

3- When you make mistakes, own them

While the scandal disappointed many, the way Letterman handled the aftermath was brilliant. He was being extorted and instead of allowing others to profit from his mistakes, he took the situation public. He took personal responsibility for his actions and made amends. We all make mistakes. When we do, we would do well to follow the example of Letterman.

4- Fame often results in the opposite of what it promises.

Like money, fame is often assumed to be a key to life satisfaction. People chase fame, but having it can lead to regret of the loss of private life. With fame comes loneliness. While everyone wants a picture with Letterman and would love to know him, Letterman has always appeared to be a little lonely.

Rightfully so. With every relationship, Letterman has to wonder if the person wants to be his friend or just desires some of his fame, money, or influence.

Fame might seem appealing, but there’s no reason to chase fame because it doesn’t necessarily provide what we think it promises.

5- Sincerity

Letterman ran a comedy show. That didn’t stop him from being sincere. He presented flowers for Julia Roberts and other guests. He showed deep concern for peace when discussing political and worldly issues with former or current presidents and elected officials.

After 9/11 — arguably Letterman’s most sincere shows ever — he was the capstone of emotional unity.

David Letterman Net Worth

FAQs About David Letterman

Here are some things about David Letterman you may not already know about:

How much did David Letterman make per show?

A: According to Variety in 2007, Letterman was earning $2 million per episode and $12 million in total.

How much is David Letterman Net Worth?

A: It is a staggering worth of $400 million!

Summary: David Letterman Net Worth

So there you have it, I’m sure you’ll agree that the former late-night talk show host has had a hell of a career.

My biggest takeaway from this is his enormous wealth, particularly how he spends his money as a multi-millionaire on luxurious things but I also particularly liked how he has a heart of gold as he helps those less fortunate in life.

I hope you enjoyed this article – you might also want to check out David Letterman’s Bio, the best memes, jokes, and quotes.