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What was Brian Epstein’s Net Worth?

Brian Epstein was an English music entrepreneur who had a net worth equal to $1 million at the time of his death. After adjusting for inflation, that’s the same as around $10 million in today’s dollars. However, it should be noted that the value of his 9% stake in the Beatles’ song catalog eventually would have been worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Brian Epstein passed away on August 27, 1967 at 32 years old from an accidental barbiturate and alcohol overdose.

Brian Epstein was best known for managing the Beatles from 1962 until his death in 1967. Encouraging the band to adopt a clean-cut style and landing them a record deal with EMI’s Parlophone, he was integral in making the Beatles into global superstars. Epstein also managed such artists as Gerry and the Pacemakers, Cilla Black, and Tommy Quickly.

Epstein handled the band’s business affairs and would often serve as a mediator for their personal disputes. The Beatles were known to rarely read their record contracts as they trusted Epstein so much. He also advised the band to create the publishing company Northern Songs. In exchange for creating the company, Epstein owned 9% of Northern Songs. Lennon and McCartney each owned 20% each. Though, by the time Northern Songs was taken public, Lennon and McCartney’s stakes were reduced to 15%. More info on Northern Songs in the next section:

Northern Songs

Northern Songs was a music publishing company founded in 1963 by music publisher Dick James, artist manager Brian Epstein, and songwriters John Lennon and Paul McCartney of the Beatles. The company was formed to publish the songs written by Lennon and McCartney, and it quickly became one of the most successful music publishing companies in the world.

In 1965, Northern Songs was floated on the London Stock Exchange. Lennon and McCartney each owned 15% of the company, while Epstein owned 9% and James owned 51%. The remaining 15% was owned by the public.

In 1969, Epstein died suddenly, and his 9% stake in Northern Songs was inherited by his brother, Clive. Clive Epstein was not interested in the music business, so he put his stake in Northern Songs up for sale.

In 1970, ATV Music Corporation, a British media company, acquired Northern Songs for £10 million. ATV was owned by Lew Grade, a wealthy businessman who had a keen eye for investments. Grade saw the potential value of Northern Songs’ catalog of Beatles songs, and he was willing to pay a premium price for it.

The acquisition of Northern Songs by ATV was a controversial move. Lennon and McCartney were unhappy that they had lost control of their songs, and they accused Grade of taking advantage of them. However, there was nothing they could do to stop the sale.

ATV continued to own Northern Songs until 1985, when it was acquired by Michael Jackson for $47.5 million. Jackson was a huge fan of the Beatles, and he was eager to own their songs. He also saw the potential value of the catalog in the years to come.

Jackson’s ownership of Northern Songs was short-lived. In 2007, he was forced to sell the company to Sony Music Entertainment for $750 million. Sony Music saw the value of the Beatles catalog, and they were willing to pay a premium price for it.

Today, Sony Music owns the rights to the Beatles’ songs. The catalog is estimated to be worth billions of dollars. If Brian Epstein was alive today, his 9% stake in Northern Songs would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

It is interesting to note that Northern Songs was originally formed to protect the interests of Lennon and McCartney. However, it ultimately ended up costing them their control of their songs. It is a cautionary tale about the importance of understanding the terms of any business deal, no matter how well-intentioned the other party may seem.

Early Life and Education

Brian Epstein was born on September 19, 1934 in Liverpool, England to Queenie and Harry. He was of Lithuanian-Jewish descent, and had a younger brother named Clive. During World War II, the family moved to Southport, where Epstein was expelled from two different schools due to laziness and poor performance. The family returned to Liverpool in 1945, where they remained. Epstein went on to attend an array of boarding schools, including Liverpool College, Clayesmore School in Dorset, and Wrekin College in Wellington. It was at Wrekin that he fell in love with the arts, particularly music and theater. In late 1952, Epstein was conscripted into the Royal Army Service Corps as a data entry clerk. He was recommended for an early medical discharge after several visits with Army psychiatrists by early 1954. Two years after that, Epstein enrolled in a two-year course at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. However, he dropped out after his third term.

Career Beginnings

Before going to RADA, Epstein managed the Clarendon Furnishing shop in Hoylake and was made director of his family’s record shop, NEMS. In 1956, he worked briefly as a department store clerk in London to make money after he was robbed of all of his possessions and was unable to afford a ticket home.

After leaving RADA, Epstein returned to Liverpool and was put in charge of the record department of his family’s new NEMS music store, which became one of the biggest music retailer outlets in Northern England. He was subsequently put in charge of a second store that had just opened. Through his work at NEMS, Epstein gained substantial knowledge of the pop music business.

The Beatles

In late 1961, Epstein met the Beatles for the first time at a lunchtime concert at the Cavern Club in Liverpool. The Beatles were regular customers at NEMS, and so knew who Epstein was. Over the next three weeks, the band continued playing at the Cavern Club, and Epstein was always there to see them. In a meeting with the Beatles at NEMS in December, Epstein proposed the idea of managing the group.

After a few more meetings, the Beatles signed a five-year contract with Epstein in early 1962. Despite having had no previous experience managing artists, Epstein was integral in launching the Beatles to superstardom. He advised them to adopt a clean-cut look of suits and ties, which differed from their regular wardrobe of blue jeans and leather jackets, and  urged them to stop smoking, drinking, and swearing on stage. Epstein also secured the band’s contract with EMI’s Parlophone label, and replaced drummer Pete Best with Ringo Starr, whom John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison preferred. Although Epstein placed a major emphasis on the significance of the Beatles’ tours, the band refused to continue with live concerts after Candlestick Park in the summer of 1966.

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Other Artists

Epstein successfully managed a number of other young artists beyond the Beatles. Among them were Gerry and the Pacemakers, Cilla Black, Tommy Quickly, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, and the Cyrkle, which was his first American group. Epstein would send his roster of artists on “package” tours throughout the United Kingdom.

Final Years of Career

Having settled in London in 1965, Epstein rented an office on Monmouth Street and purchased the lease of the Saville Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue. He used his experience and cachet to promote new works by writers, such as Arnold Wesker. Epstein also turned the Saville Theatre into a music venue for American acts. Meanwhile, he appeared on several music-based television shows in the UK and hosted a portion of the American musical variety series “Hullabaloo.”

Drugs and Gambling

When he began his management career, Epstein started taking various stimulants to stay awake during long concert tours. He soon became addicted to other drugs, including barbiturates. Epstein also developed a gambling addiction, and frequently lost thousands playing baccarat.

Personal Life and Death

Epstein was gay, although he did not reveal this to the public during his life. His identity got him into trouble, as homosexuality was illegal in the UK. In 1957, Epstein was arrested for soliciting an undercover police officer for sex, and was sentenced to two years of probation. While still on probation in 1958, he was assaulted by a sexual partner and extorted for hush money, forcing him to testify in court and thus disclose his homosexuality to his family.

In late August of 1967, Epstein died in his locked bedroom from an accidental overdose of barbiturates combined with alcohol. He was 32 years of age. Epstein was buried in the Long Lane Jewish Cemetery in Aintree, Liverpool, and had a memorial service at the New London Synagogue in St John’s Wood, near Abbey Road Studios.

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