• Is Bono The UK’s Richest Rock Star?

    By Myles Crawley

    Last year we published an article that listed the UK’s Richest Rock Stars. With recent IPO events unfolding, we thought it might be a good idea to take another look at that list. At the time of our original publishing, Sir Paul McCartney was at the top with approximately $750 million in personal wealth. With a quarter of a billion dollar lead over his closest rival Sir Elton John, it seemed like it was going to be quite some time before anyone unseated the great Macca. Indeed, even Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (#3 & #4 consecutively) didn’t stand much of a chance since there was a half billion dollar gap between the Beatle and the Stones.

    Then along came Mark Zuckerburg.

    Previously sitting at lucky #13 on the list were the members of U2. Although the rest of the band might still be there (with $105 million each), one of their members, a character by the name of Bono, has shot up nearer the top. But how much nearer, we’re not quite sure yet. It seems that back in 2009 Bono’s investment company, Elevation Investments, paid around $90 million for a 1.5% share of Facebook. At that point in time the investment seemed more than a little iffy. Facebook was still in the process of proving itself as a major entity and was still more of a concept than a money maker. Elevation’s other investments brought additional consternation from the investment community as they had already pumped large amounts of cash into Forbes Media, Palm, and Move.com.

    According to the online publication, 24/7 Wall Street, Elevation invested $300 million in Forbes in 2006. Forbes value had dropped seven fold by 2010. A $100 million investment in Move.com resulted in a 50 percent loss, and Elevation only recovered its investment in Palm when the tech company was sold to Hewlett Packard. These sketchy investments landed Bono the title of “world’s worst investor in 2010“. But as of last Friday, the tide has changed. Elevation’s 1.5% share of Facebook is now worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $900 million to $1.5 billion. In combination with his original $105 million net worth, this dramatic new change makes the working class Irish lad a lot richer.

    But nothing’s written in stone just yet. Elevation can’t cash out of Facebook without sending the value of its stock crashing onto the rocks. As of the closing bell today, Facebook’s stock had fallen about 11% to $34.03 per share. If Elevation does cash out, it will have to do so in tiers, which will take several months to accomplish. Bono released this statement last Friday to clarify his position on the matter:

    Contrary to reports, I’m not a billionaire or going to be richer than any Beatle — and not just in the sense of money, by the way. In Elevation, we invest other people’s money — endowments, pension funds. We do get paid of course. But you know, I felt rich when I was 20 years old and my wife was paying my bills. Just being in a band, I’ve always felt blessed.

    Well said dude. I guess Macca can breathe a sigh of relief, for the time being anyway.

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