How Bill Cosby’s Legal Issues Affected His Net Worth

In a surprising turn of events, Bill Cosby was released from prison after his sexual assault conviction was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The disgraced 83-year-old comedian had been convicted of three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault and was in the midst of serving a 3-to-10-year sentence for his crimes. But his sentence was vacated as a result of a court rule technicality — not because he was found innocent of the charges. The former standup now returns to civilian life with a smaller fortune than he once had. Just how much has he lost as a result of his convictions? Here’s a look into Bill Cosby’s net worth in 2021.

Bill Cosby Was Once The Highest Paid Entertainer In The World

At the peak of his career, Bill Cosby was one of the world’s best-known and highest-earning celebrities. He spent the 1960s and ‘70s building a successful standup career, starring in a number of popular TV shows and appearing in comedies like Uptown Saturday Night, Let’s Do It Again, and Mother, Jugs & Speed. He was also the creator of several popular kids’ shows, including the cartoon Fat Albert and Picture Pages on PBS.

By the time the 1980s rolled around, Cosby was a household name. He became America’s favorite dad thanks to The Cosby Show and reportedly received a base salary of $1 million per episode for the series. That didn’t include the additional income he earned as a creator and producer of the hit sitcom, which reportedly added $3 million to his yearly paycheck.

Cosby won major endorsement deals with big brands and performed standup shows to sold-out audiences around the country. According to a 1985 article in People magazine, the star was earning $2.52 million for a two-year stint at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, plus $1 million apiece for appearing in Jell-O and Coca-Cola commercials.

By 1987, Cosby ranked number one on a UPI list of the top celebrity earners, claiming the top spot over fellow millionaire superstars like Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Murphy, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Madonna, and Steven Spielberg. The article reported that Cosby had earned a whopping $84 million over a two-year period. And don’t forget, this was back in the 1980s — that figure would be more than double today.

Cosby continued to find success through the ‘90s and beyond. In 1996, he re-teamed with his The Cosby Show co-star Phylicia Rashad for the CBS sitcom Cosby, which aired for four seasons. He also hosted Kids Say the Darndest Things from 1998 until 2000, produced a live-action version of Fat Albert in 2004, hosted comedy galas, and published multiple books, including Cosbyology: Essays and Observations from the Doctor of Comedy in 2001 and a collection of comical musings called I Didn’t Ask to Be Born (But I’m Glad I Was) in 2003.

Cosby’s Sexual Assault Allegations Cost Him Millions

Bill Cosby Mistrial Reaction

To date, claims of sexual assault against Bill Cosby have been made by more than 50 women. While some of these claims date back decades, the comedian did not start experiencing any real career consequences from the allegations until recent years. The first major blow was in 2014, when reruns of The Cosby Show — which had been extremely lucrative for the comedian for years — were pulled from streaming platforms and from TV syndication.

Around that same time, Cosby’s planned special for Netflix was dropped by the streaming giant. He also lost a reported seven-figure deal to produce and star in a new sitcom for NBC. While he continued to perform standup on stage, ticket sales began to dwindle and many shows were canceled. The shows that did go on were poorly attended and widely protested. By the time Cosby was arrested in 2015, he was no longer touring. According to a report from CNN, these standup tours typically made over $10 million in ticket sales.

In addition to all the income Cosby lost from canceled TV, standup, and other entertainment projects, his assault allegations have cost him millions of dollars in settlements and legal fees. While we don’t know exactly how much he’s had to shell out to lawyers in total, we do know that as of last year, he still owed one California law firm nearly $3 million in past-due legal bills.

But as much as his legal woes have cost him, Cosby still seems to have enough cash to earn the privileges of the wealthy. Thanks to the help of his high-powered (and very expensive) attorneys, he was able to find a legal loophole that won him is freedom. That would not have been possible without a fortune to fund his lawyers to file aggressive appeals.

What Is Bill Cosby’s Net Worth Now?

Bill Cosby in 2014
(Randy Miramontez / Shutterstock.com)

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Bill Cosby’s current net worth is $400 million. That’s a pretty sizable sum considering all the trouble he’s been in. Much of that fortune has come from the 20% equity he owns in The Cosby Show, which has netted him hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties over nearly four decades. While he likely won’t be receiving any of these syndication checks in the future, the comedian reportedly invested his money wisely and has a real estate and fine art portfolio worth more than $250 million.

It’s also not clear how much Cosby still owes in legal fees or if he will be liable for other damages in the future. According to the comedian’s spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, the former funnyman is hoping to make a comeback and return to the stage. Following Cosby’s release from prison, Wyatt told The Philadelphia Enquirer that his client has been “talking to a number of promoters and comedy club owners” and that he’s “excited the way the world is welcoming him back.”

Will anyone buy tickets for these shows? Or watch him on TV again? We’ll have to wait and see. Currently, most entertainers and Hollywood insiders are making efforts to distance themselves from the fallen comedian, and neither Hulu nor Netflix are streaming any kind of Cosby-related programs.

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