Lana Del Rey was born Elizabeth Woolridge Grant on June 21, 1985. 35 years later, and according to the latest estimates from Celebrity Net Worth, she’s worth the grand total of $30 million. Considering she was virtually unknown until 9 years ago, how exactly did she manage to make quite so much money, quite so quickly? Selling 3.4 million copies of her debut album, for one, makes her a talented musician…
The Early Years
Lana Del Ray may be swimming in cash now, but her rise to the top hasn’t exactly been a traditional rags to riches tales. As gobankingrates.com explains, Lana Del Ray or (Lizzie Grant, as she was the called then) was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Her father, Robert England Grant, is the millionaire founder of WebMediaProperties, an international network consisting of over 8,000 specialty websites. He and wife Patricia have managed to accrue so much wealth over the years, they’ve even done that classic ‘rich person with a heart’ move of establishing a foundation, The Grant Family Foundation, which has donated over $1 million to universities, colleges and secondary schools over the past decade. But wealth isn’t a guarantee of happiness. By the time Lana was 15, she’d developed a drinking problem.
“When I was very young I was kind of floored by the fact my mother and my father and everyone I knew was going to die, and myself too,” she’s since explained to The Telegraph. “I had a sort of a crisis. I couldn’t believe we were mortal. For some reason, that knowledge overshadowed my experience. I was unhappy for some time. I got into a lot of trouble. I used to drink a lot. That was a hard time in my life.” In a bid to nip the problem in the bud, her parents packed their young daughter off to Kent School, where she managed to give up the drink and get herself back on the straight and narrow.
The Move into Music
After graduating from Kent School, Lana moved in with her aunt and uncle on Long Island. It was there that she started learning the guitar and writing her own lyrics. Soon, she was performing in bars and clubs across New York City. A couple of years later, she released her first EP. By the time she graduated from Fordham University with a degree in philosophy, she’d managed to win a record deal with 5 Points Records and was working with producer David Kahne. But then…. nothing. Her debut album spent a few weeks on iTunes before being withdrawn. Disheartened with the lack of progress being made with 5 Points Records, she dropped out of her contract and moved to London. And then things began to look up.
In 2011, Lana uploaded a music video she’d made for Video Games to YouTube. The mix of vintage footage intercepted with images of Lana crooning to the camera clearly captured the public imagination, and the video swiftly went viral. A Q award for “Next Big Thing” and an Ivor Novello for “Best Contemporary Song” swiftly followed – as did a record deal with Interscope Records and Polydor. Her first album with the label, Born to Die, divided the critics but went down a storm with fans. Selling 3.4 million copies in 2012 alone, it soared to the top spot in 11 countries and spent a massive 36 weeks on the Billboard 200 in the US.
Continuation of Success
If Born to Die divided the critics, the rest of Lana’s career has done much the same. While many have lauded the evocative, deeply personal content of her lyrics and the dark, cinematic quality of her arrangements, others have criticized her work as anti-feminist and called her videos out for glamorizing abuse and prostitution (see the criticism of her video for Ride for some of the most vitriolic comments in that vein). But whichever side of the fence you fall on, you can’t deny she’s got selling power.
Her third album, Paradise, charted at number 10 on the Billboard 200 after 67,000 copies were sold in the first week alone. Ultraviolence topped the charts internationally, while 2017’s Lust for Life went to number one in both the US and UK. Her sixth album, Norman F*****g Rockwell! (2019), fared similarly well.
In total, she’s now sold 19.1 million albums and over 13 million singles worldwide. Combine that with 4.1 billion YouTube and Vevo views, not to mention a string of awards a mile long (including two Brit Awards, two MTV Europe Music Awards, a Satellite Award, nine GAFFA Awards, six Grammy Award nominations, and a Golden Globe nomination) and you start to see the reason for that $30 million.
Albums generate interest, but it’s touring that really brings in the music. Over the past decade, Lana has followed a relentless tour schedule, starting with the Born to Die Tour of 2011 – 2012, and followed up by the Paradise Tour (2013- 2014), The Endless Summer Tour (2015), Festival Tour (2016), LA to the Moon Tour (2018), and The Norman F*****g Rockwell! Tour (2019–20).
She may be best known for her music, but Lana hasn’t devoted herself exclusively to the craft. This year, she’s releasing her first book of poetry (the book itself will come out at the end of September – the audiobook is already released as of July 28th), while in 2021, she’s planning on releasing her second book, currently titled ‘Behind the Iron Gates – Insights from the Institution’.
But it’s not just writing that’s bought in a nice bit of extra income. She’s also made a whack from modeling (one of her biggest campaigns was for the fashion store H&M) and from property, having sold her Malibu residence in 2018 for a hefty $3.2 million.
So, how has Lana Del Rey achieved a net worth of $30 million? Basically, by selling a lot of records. Since her transition from girl-next-door Lizzy Grant to sultry songstress Lana Del Rey, she’s become, according to Pitchfork at least, the “next best American songwriter” – judging by how eagerly her fans hand over their money for each new release, the public clearly agrees.