Literary and artistic history has a capricious relationship with vampires. When the vampire made his early appearances in literature, he was a somewhat erotic being – a man, biting and sucking the blood of the female subject of his desire. Then came the trope of the devilish creatures that turned into bats and flew through windows at night, biting unsuspecting victims and turning them into one of the vampirical kind. Of course, in the late 1800s the most famous literary portrayal of the vampire came from Bram Stoker, in the form of Dracula. He lived in a castle in Transylvania, shied away from mirrors and had three evil brides that feasted on babies and innocent men and women. Dracula defined many of the traits we’re now familiar with in vampires – fear of silver, disgust at garlic, the habit of sleeping in coffins, a lack of reflection…
Literature surrounding vampires evolved, with varying interpretations on their origins, their ‘biology’ and their motivations. Where they magical creatures? Aliens? Simply humans with a genetic predisposition to consuming blood? All these interpretations came up at some point. But now, in the 21st century, vampires have become almost idolise. They might even elicit sympathy: Some interpretations portrayed them as tortured souls, rather than beings that torture and steal human souls. According to this line of thinking, their bloodsucking ways aren’t a choice but essential for survival. We read and watch some vampires scrambling through sewers to feed on rats or eradicate blood from their diet completely. The 1970s gothic novel ‘Interview With The Vampire’ we were introduced to Lestat and Louie, two vampires with very different moral codes; we watched as the two battled their views of what it meant to even be a Vampire. Stephenie Meyer’s ‘Twilight’ series touched on some of the older myths, and harked back to the eroticism of the vampire legend when she told the story of a human-vampire sexual relationship. With the popularisation of different sorts of vampires in modern culture – ‘Twilight’, ‘True Blood’ and, earlier, ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ to name a few – the rules we came to accept and appreciate are now scrutinized, dissected, and warped (and that’s how the vampires traditionally treat their victims…)
Though we’ve seen all of these changes, however, there is one thing that has stayed the same – money. The fact that vampires are wealthy seems to have been a consistent fixture of the vampire myth. As stated before, Dracula lived in a castle. Lestat wears expensive clothes and affords large, luxurious houses. Even the Cullens from the ‘Twilight’ series are a family of great wealth. But who are the richest? Which vampires, in the world of vampire myths and legends, hold the most wealth – and therefore, arguably, power?
Of course, there’s no single way to assess that; the appendages of the wealthy may accompany each vampire in the stories we look at here, but there’s never an explicit figure given to the wealth of any one vampire. So instead, we’ve had a look at the biggest vampire movies and the star vampires of those movies, to see which vampire was attached to the greatest box office gross. We’ve also employed the help of the Forbes’ fictional rich list to find out who is truly the richest vampire of all. Interested? Then join us in this bloodthirsty stroll from Transylvania to America.
5. Selene: $55 million
‘Underworld’ came to our screens in 2003 and to date has produced two sequels and one prequel. Although we’re basing each of the vampire’s fortunes on the franchise’s success, we’re also looking at the main character’s lives. And, with ‘Underworld’ we were introduced to the complex, primary protagonist: a female vampire by the name of Selene. Putting the franchise’s success to one side for the moment, when we saw Selene stroll onto the screen we knew she was from wealth. With her sleek leather clothes and the expensive gadgets with which she killed the Lycans, money seems to be of no concern to this stylish vampire.
She stands, with pointed revolvers and glistening outfits, at number five on our vampire rich list: Fans loved the saga so much, each film in the franchise grossed an average of $55 million.
4. Dracula: $82 million
We all know him. We hear his voice. We fear him. Yes, he’s Dracula, the granddaddy of the vampire. Dracula was brought to us in 1897 with the novel that disturbed and shocked, written by Irish author Bram Stoker and inspired by bloodsucking legends from the island. Its pages depicted a monstrous blood-sucking creature, introduced as an old, frail man. With the first film produced in 1931 with the illusive Bela Lugosi and countless remakes made afterwards, it stands to reason that Dracula would fall on our list. This figure of wealth, however, was taken from what is arguably the definitive Dracula adaptation – Francis Ford Coppola’s version, released in 1992.
Dracula isn’t on our list just because of the huge growth of the Dracula myth and countless actors that have portrayed the character; he’s here because of the character himself. Dracula’s fortune is right in the focus of the reader’s mind from the very beginning. Before we’re even introduced to the character we know that he’s wealthy enough to have a solicitor come and give him personal legal advice about a real estate transaction. Dracula lives in an old, crumbling castle in Transylvania which suggests he’s from old money. And of course, he’s a Count. All of these factors point to his wealth and so he comes in as number four on our wealthy vampire list.
3. Lestat: $105, 264, 608
It would appear our dear friend Lestat – evil but charming – is similar to Dracula but differs in terms of value. Lestat is introduced to us, first in the novel ‘Interview with The Vampire’ and later in the film adaptation – as a character from the 1880s, strutting around in fantastic clothes of silk and cotton. Like most of the vampires on our list, he’s been alive for a long time and has acquired money through a variety of channels – most of them illegal. Lestat’s morals are loose and we must come to the conclusion that, as well as being from a wealthy family, he would have added to that fortune through some questionable transactions.
The figure we have acquired, however, is based on the explosive response through the box office that the movie ‘Interview With A Vampire’ had in the mid-90s. Beating Coppola’s Dracula, Lestat is rich vampire number three.
2. Edward Cullen and Siblings: $300, 531, 751
Whether you’re a ‘Twilight’ lover or hater, the fact in the matter is: it’s made a lot of money. With four completed novels and five films, ‘Twilight’ stomped through the other franchises to become the single most profitable vampire franchise – and one of the biggest franchises in the world.
If we look at the character in question – Edward Cullen – his familial factors do indeed support the idea that he’s one of the wealthiest vampires of all time. Both the ‘Twilight’ novels and the movies make it clear that Cullen comes from a very wealthy family – with an impressive car, a stunning house and the ability to treat his mortal girlfriend to whatever she desires at the drop of a hat. Cullen, however, does not show off this wealth – after all, his family like to downplay the fact that they’ve been around for centuries. Much like Lestat, the Cullens have been amassing wealth for generations. They are what we might call the ‘modern day vampire’: money collectors, not body collectors.
1. Carlisle Cullen: $34 billion
Carlisle Cullen sits at the top of the Forbes Richest Fictional Characters List and this is where the large sum of $34 billion comes from. There are, of course, important areas of the Twilight novels that illustrate this point. Carlisle -Edward Cullen’s father figure – has been around for years, obtaining huge money. After hundreds of years it’s likely he knows a thing or two about investments – and his job as a doctor likely gives him some nice pocket money so he doesn’t have to touch the family savings.
Carlisle Cullen, a ‘vegetarian’ vampire – he only drinks the blood of animals, not humans – is a far throw from our classic cruel Dracula figure. But he is, perhaps, a more realistic interpretation of how the immortal creatures might function in the real world today. He keeps his family safe, buys some fun big boys’ toys, and makes wise investments – to the tune of tens of billions of U.S. dollars.
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