Thursday, July 24, 2008

At £150m, Rowling is the richest celebrity
· Harry Potter author takes top spot in Forbes list· Knightley and Beckham among high earners

Alexandra Topping writing in The Guardian today, Thursday July 24, 2008

JK Rowling’s final Harry Potter book has sold 44m since it came out.

Photograph: David Fisher/Rex Features

The pen may be mightier than the sword, but a magic wand is more powerful than either, or at least according to this year's Forbes' list of the world's richest celebrities. Harry Potter author JK Rowling earned more than any other celebrity, according to the annual Celebrity 100 list, taking home $300m (£150m) last year. There were other strong British performances from Keira Knightley, announced as the world's second best paid female actor, Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe and David Beckham.

Since Rowling's first story about the boy wizard arrived in bookstores in 1997, 375m copies of her books have been sold worldwide. The final instalment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, has sold 44m since it came out last July, according to the US business magazine. The British author earned more than US talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who made $275m. However, Oprah can take at least some of the credit for helping Welsh author Ken Follett, who earned $20m after she recommended his 1989 book Pillars Of The Earth on her show last year.

Rowling is not the only one cashing in on the Potter legacy. Child star turned pinup Radcliffe, 19, came joint top of the Tweens list of young mega-earners, proving that stripping naked and disfiguring horses in the London revival of Peter Shaffer's Equus can only boost your purchasing power. He shared the top spot with Miley Cyrus, 15, (aka TV's Hannah Montana), with both stars taking home $25m last year. Radcliffe's Potter co-stars Emma Watson, 18, who plays Hermione and Rupert Grint, 19, who plays Ron Weasley, made it into the top 10, earning $5.5m and $5m respectively.

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