Arnold Schwarzenegger is a man of many talents and tremendous wealth. He has been remarkably successful in bodybuilding, acting, and even politics and has donned several other hats including directing, writing, business, real estate, and more. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s net worth is estimated at around $450 million in 2023 and he is among the richest movie stars around.
He is one of the most popular celebrities with a global appeal and following. Let’s dive into Arnold Schwarzenegger’s net worth, career, and life story to see what insights we can learn.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Net Worth
We know a bit about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s net worth due to the public filings that he made before becoming the Governor of California. While we don’t know with certainty how much each of his ventures, investments, and gigs contributes to the current net worth, we can make our best guesses based on information found online.
|Contribution to Net Worth
|Income from movie acting
|Approx. $20 million per role
|Real estate investments
|Approx. $300 million
|Income from real estate investments
|Venture capital investments
|Approx. $70 million
|Portfolio of stocks and bonds
|Approx. $3 million
|Arnold Sports Festival
|Income from bodybuilding career
|Approx. $50 million
|Income from book royalties and speeches
|Total Net Worth
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Early Life
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger was born on July 30, 1947, in the small village of Thal, near Graz in Austria, and was the second son of his mother Aurelia, and father Gustav Schwarzenegger. While Arnold Schwarzenegger shared good relations with his mother, he said that his father favored his brother Meinhard over him. Arnold claimed that his father tortured him during his childhood.
The Schwarzeneggers had a humble background and faced monetary problems, with Arnold Schwarzenegger recalling that one of the highlights of his youth was when they bought a refrigerator.
In an interview with NPR, he recalled:
It was really my mother had to go out and beg for food when she went from farm to farm and beg for food, and then she came home with a little bit of butter and a little bit of bread, just enough to feed us for a few days. And then she would go out again and beg some more for food. I mean, it was really horrible.
He was an average student at school who struggled with reading – he was later diagnosed with dyslexia. However, he was good at sports and played several games.
Schwarzenegger started weight training when his football coach took his team to a local gym in 1960. He eventually chose to make a career out of bodybuilding and soon came to be known as the Styrian Oak, or Austrian Oak for his bodybuilding as he was way ahead of the competition. He won the junior Mr. Europe contest in 1965 while serving a one-year term in the Austrian army.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Bodybuilding Career
Schwarzenegger won his first major title in 1967 when he was crowned amateur Mr. Universe, and never looked back. The next year he moved to California in the US for training and to be able to participate in other major events.
Notably, Schwarzenegger knew little English when he moved to the US and to improve his command over the language, he took classes at Santa Monica College in the early 1970s.
During his commencement speech at Santa Monica College in 2005 Schwarzenegger said:
I started by taking English as a Second Language because I knew if I wanted to make it in America, I needed to speak English well.
I was scared when I first drove up to Santa Monica College – scared I wouldn’t fit in, scared that I would look like an idiot.
During his bodybuilding career, Schwarzenegger won three Mr. Universe titles and was the professional Mr. Olympia for six straight years between 1970 and 1975. While he retired after the sixth title, he made a surprise comeback in 1980 and won the title yet again. However, following the seventh title – which was a world record at that point – he retired from competitive bodybuilding.
Meanwhile, his record of seven Mr. Olympian titles was broken by Lee Haney when he won eight consecutive titles between 1984 and 1991. Later, Ronnie Coleman equaled the record with eight straight titles between 1998 and 2005. That said, while Schwarzenegger may no longer hold the world record for most Mr. Olympian titles, he is nonetheless among the most famous bodybuilders in history.
Arnold Schwarzenegger married Maria Shriver in 1986 and the couple have four children, Katherine Schwarzenegger, Christina Schwarzenegger, Patrick Schwarzenegger, and Christopher Schwarzenegger. He has a love child, Joseph Baena, with longtime housekeeper Mildred Patricia Baena. The affair eventually led to Schwarzenegger’s divorce in 2021.
How Arnold Schwarzenegger Became a Famous Hollywood Action Hero
After bidding adieu to professional bodybuilding, Schwarzenegger moved to Hollywood to focus on his childhood dream which was acting in movies. While his acting career began with “Hercules In New York” in 1970, he only did four movies up to 1980.
That said, in 1977, he was awarded the Golden Globe® award for “New Male Star of the Year” for his role in “Stay Hungry” by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
His acting career started to take off with “Conan the Barbarian” in 1982, which was followed by “Conan the Destroyer” in 1984. However, it wasn’t until “The Terminator” in 1984 that Schwarzenegger rose to fame globally and established himself as an action hero.
The Terminator franchise was not only among his best movies in terms of box office collections but brought him fame as well. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s name is synonymous with the Terminator films for many people across the world.
Overall, he has appeared in more than 40 movies whose total box office sales are over $4.5 billion. Schwarzenegger is currently estimated to charge over $20 million for every movie that he stars in.
He earned different amounts per movie previously and earned $12 million each for “Terminator 2” and “Kindergarten Cop” which were the highest fees when he earned them. Here is the list of his highest-grossing movies – many of which are blockbuster action movies.
- Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) – Worldwide earnings of $520 million
- Terminator 3: Rise of Machines (2003) – Worldwide earnings of $433 million
- True Lies (1994) – Worldwide earnings of $379 million
- Total Recall (1990) – Worldwide earnings of $261 million
- Eraser (1996) – Worldwide earnings of $242 million
Schwarzenegger admitted that early in his movie career he and Sylvester Stallone were “movie rivals” but later became “fantastic friends”. Schwarzenegger starred in several of Sylvester Stallone’s movies including a cameo in “The Expendables”.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Real Estate Empire
While we may know Arnold Schwarzenegger as a world-famous bodybuilder, actor, or the two-term former governor of California, he is also a successful and prominent real estate investor, and the current value of his holdings is now estimated to be over $300 million.
Incidentally, he became a millionaire not from acting or bodybuilding but from real estate and properties account for the bulk of his net worth.
Appearing on The Tim Ferriss Show, in 2015 he said:
I did not rely on my movie career to make a living. That was my intention because I saw over the years the people that worked out in the gym and that I met in the acting classes, they were all very vulnerable because they didn’t have any money and they had to take anything that was offered to them because that was their living. I didn’t want to get into that situation.
I felt like if I am smart with real estate and take my little money that I make in bodybuilding and in seminars and selling my courses through the mail orders, I could save up enough money to put down money for an apartment building.
His real estate investments began shortly after he arrived in California and he bought a small plot of land in Palmdale for only about $5,000, utilizing a part of the savings that he had accumulated as part of his professional bodybuilding. He bought the land based on reports that a supersonic airport would be built there.
The airport never came and according to Schwarzenegger, his first real estate investment was his worst. He drew his lessons from the episode though – that “raw land is not really a fun thing to invest in.”
Nonetheless, even though he wasn’t able to sell that plot for a quick buck, the property value appreciated considerably in the coming years, and in the 2015 interview with Tim Ferris, Schwarzenegger said that the property value had risen to $680,000.
Schwarzenegger continued to buy apartments and subsequently rented them to get regular income from his investment. He sold them at a profit and reinvested it to buy more properties. Pouring the profits from his real estate investments into new properties helped him lower his tax liability while gradually adding to his real estate portfolio.
Schwarzenegger used leverage to amplify returns from real estate and admits that the high inflation of the 1970s helped his real estate investments. He acknowledges that making similar returns from the same field is not possible now.
Buildings that I would buy for $500K within the year were $800K and I put only maybe $100K down, so you made 300% on your money. You couldn’t beat that. I quickly developed and traded up my buildings and bought more apartment buildings and office buildings on Main Street down in Santa Monica and so on. The investments were very good and it was just one of those magic decades.
In California, Arnold Schwarzenegger owns several commercial properties, primarily in Southern California. Overall, he owns a range of properties – both residential and commercial – spread across the US, Europe, and Asia.
The Easton Town Center shopping mall in Columbus, Ohio is among Schwanagger’s biggest real estate investments. Apart from adding to his net worth, these properties are a source of regular income for him.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Stock Portfolio
Arnold Schwarzenegger invests in stocks as well and while we don’t have much information about his current investments, he disclosed them in 2003 as a prerequisite condition to enter the race for California Governor. The filing showed that he has a tilt for blue chip stocks. Here is the brief list of stocks that he owned as per that disclosure:
- Abbott Laboratories
- Washington Post Co
- General Electric
In the filings, he mentioned that the value of 20 of his holdings was over $1 million. Apart from stocks, he also had investments worth millions of dollars in municipal bonds.
Meanwhile, despite being a savvy investor, Arnold Schwarzenegger does not invest in bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies and has said, “I am like Warren Buffett. I don’t invest in things I don’t understand.”
Notably, Schwarzenegger is friends with Buffett and that seems to having had a bearing on his investment philosophy. Buffett is a fierce critic of cryptocurrencies and once termed bitcoin as “rat poison squared”. That said, not all celebrities share that view and many have not only invested in cryptocurrencies but even endorsed them.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Business Ventures
Along with investing in listed stocks, bonds, as well as real estate, Arnold Schwarzenegger has invested in many startup business ventures. According to Pitchbook, he has invested in the following startup companies:
- Lobos 1707: A Mexican tequila and mezcal company founded in 2020.
- NTWRK: A curated livestream shopping experience featuring the world’s best creators.
- Scopely: An interactive entertainment company and video game developer.
- Advanced Microgrid Solutions: The company provides microgrids and energy storage systems.
- Google: Schwarzenegger invested in 1999 as one of the early investors in the company. Google is now part of the parent company Alphabet.
He also founded Ladder Supplements with LeBron James. Ladder Supplements is a sports nutrition company that produces high-performance, NSF Certified for Sport® workout supplements.
However, in 2020, Schwarzenegger sold his stake to fitness platform Openfit. While the details of the transaction were not made public, the company was on track to make revenues of $4 million in 2020, and going by the projected growth, it might be valued upwards of $40 million. His 2003 filings also showed that he held a significant stake in investment firm Dimensional Fund Advisors.
In addition, Schwarzenegger owns a stake in Fitness Publications which is a book publishing joint venture with Simon & Schuster. Schwarzenegger also owns a film production company called Oak Productions.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Political Career
Arnold Schwarzenegger is a member of the Republican Party and was the governor of California between 2003 and 2011. He chose to forsake his annual salary of $187,000. In an interview, he said he lost around $200 million because of being the governor of California in the form of lost wages and extra expenses.
While Schwarzenegger said that the losses were “more than worth it” he admitted that his tenure as governor took a toll on his family.
Incidentally, his Twins co-star Danny DeVito believes that Schwarzenegger should have starred in “Twins 2” instead of becoming California’s governor. He said, “We missed ‘Twins 2’, because he became governor — which, he should have done ‘Twins 2’ instead of becoming governor.”
What’s Schwarzenegger Doing Now After Leaving Politics
Schwarzenegger’s political career came to an end, since according to California laws, he could not run for a third term as California’s governor. He is unable to run for president of the USA either, since he is not a natural-born citizen of the country.
However, even though he has quit politics, the former governor hasn’t retreated from public life and has appeared in some movies after 2011.
Schwarzenegger continues to be associated with philanthropic causes through his Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative. The Terminator star even contributed $1 million to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Emergency Financial Assistance Program in 2023 amid the Hollywood strike.
“As soon as you recognize that you are not self-made, you realize that you have to give something back. And when you recognize how good it feels to actually do something for someone else, it gets in your blood,” said Schwarzenegger.
I have made millions of dollars in America. So when you talk about giving a million dollars to SAG for the poor people that are now suffering because of the strike, I didn’t think twice.
Schwarzenegger has been writing books since quitting politics and his most recent book is “Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life” which he has been promoting on his social media accounts. He has been working to promote the adoption of clean energy through his Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative. The organization is focused on reducing pollution globally – a cause that is very dear to Schwarzenegger.
Schwarzenegger Leads a Lavish Lifestyle
Meanwhile, while Schwarzenegger looks up to Buffett for financial advice, the two personalities are poles apart. Buffett is known to be frugal and spends very little of his massive net worth. He incidentally had a flip phone before he shifted to an iPhone in 2020 which was gifted to him by none other than Apple’s CEO Tim Cook.
Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway, is the second largest stockholder of Apple and the company is the biggest holding for the conglomerate.
Unlike Buffett though, Schwarzenegger is known for his lavish lifestyle and the luxurious homes that he lives in. His car collection includes the following:
- Dodge Challenger SRT
- Porshe 911 Turbo Cabriolet
- Bugatti Veyron Vitesse
- Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster
- Military-grade Hummer H1
Schwarzenegger also owns a tank that he got shipped from Austria in 1991 and even bought a Gulfstream jet in 1997 for nearly $13 million. Many other wealthy people have jets and fancy cars but perhaps his most unique investment was in his pet donkey, Lulu.
Another notable difference between Buffett and Schwarzenegger is their investment choices. While practically all of Buffett’s investment is in stocks – primarily through his holding of Berkshire Hathaway shares – real estate accounts for the bulk of Schwarzenegger’s portfolio.
Furthermore, while Buffett might be Schwarzenegger’s investment guru, he got the better of him by investing in Google quite early. Buffett however admitted that he missed out on companies like Google and Amazon which could also be due to his reluctance to buy tech stocks which he says is outside his “circle of competence”.
What Can We Learn From Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Life?
The documentary based on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life that premiered on Netflix starts with a quote from him that says, “My whole life I had this unusual talent that I could see things very clearly in front of me.” He goes on to add
If I can see it then it must be achievable. The idea was to sculpt the body to your will. But it can also be used to shape your mind to do the things that everyone calls impossible. And that gives you the will and no doubt that you can make your visions not only become a reality but go beyond your dreams.
He sums up, “I had a fire in the belly for much more… much, much more.”
The quote tells us about Schwarzenegger’s life and how competitive, determined, and ambitious he is. From knowing only a little English when he landed in the US to becoming among the most successful bodybuilders and movie stars, let alone the governor of a key state like California, Schwarzenegger should be a role model for everyone, but especially those looking to reach the American dream.
He is a living example of hard work – if not for the perseverance and hard work he would not have made it big. The bodybuilding champion did not settle by being successful in that field, and excelled in other areas like Hollywood and politics.
Schwarzenegger is known to follow his instincts even if they might appear counterintuitive. For instance, he appointed a Democrat, Susan Kennedy, as his Chief of Staff – much to the displeasure of fellow Republicans. Similarly, while some Republicans like Vivek Ramaswamy and Donald Trump, argue that climate change is a hoax (or at least isn’t manmade), Schwarzenegger supports multiple climate change initiatives through his charitable foundation.
Furthermore, Schwarzenegger has learned from different people as diverse as Buffett and Donald Trump. He never shies from seeking help when required and is also ready to help others in need, as was visible in his $1 million donation to SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Emergency Financial Assistance Program which likely was a great help in its recent strike win.
Finally, Schwarzenegger’s net worth investment strategy is an example worth following as he stayed within his circle of competence and kept adding to his real estate empire. As he admitted, while many of his fellow aspiring actors struggled to pay rent, Schwarzenegger was making monthly returns from his real estate investments. These real estate holdings now form the bulk of Schwarzenegger’s net worth while the recurring income from these properties more than takes care of his expenses.