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Jerry Seinfeld is now reportedly a billionaire. But what about Larry David?

By Charles Passy

The co-creators of 'Seinfeld' are both incredibly wealthy, but one of them has pulled far ahead of the other financially

The sitcom "Seinfeld" became particularly famous for an episode titled "The Contest." (Let's just say it involved determining which character was the true master of their domain.)

But when it comes to the "Seinfeld" personality who's the most financially successful, there's actually no contest: Jerry Seinfeld tops them all - and he's now a billionaire, to boot.

But what about Larry David, who co-created the show with Seinfeld and served as a writer and producer of it? He's a distant second, with a net worth that's been estimated at between $400 million and $450 million, according to various reports - a "pretty, pretty good" sum, as David himself might put it, but not quite in Seinfeld's league.

Clearly, both men have benefited from the ongoing success of "Seinfeld" in terms of television syndication and streaming. When Netflix (NFLX) acquired the streaming rights to the sitcom, that deal alone was reportedly worth more than $500 million, though the money was split among several individuals and companies, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Both men also have plenty of other projects bringing in the bucks. Seinfeld continues to rake in dough as a stand-up comic - as much as $20 million per tour. David has his "Curb Your Enthusiasm" series for HBO (WBD), now in its 12th and supposedly final season.

'It's not an easy job to be with me. I don't think of other people.'Larry David

So why has the 69-year-old Seinfeld pulled so far ahead of 76-year-old David? One possible reason: David has said he lost about half his money in a 2007 divorce settlement with his former wife, Laurie David. But the comedian, whose whole persona is built around his boorish behavior, didn't seem to begrudge her for it.

As he said in a CBS interview: "It's not an easy job to be with me. I don't think of other people."

Adam Oliensis, a veteran New York stand-up comic, said David is probably relieved to be making any money, given his notoriously difficult and selfish nature.

"The fact he's not driving a cab for a living is a miracle," Oliensis said. David actually did work for a time as a limo driver before he found success in show business.

David has denied in interviews that his wealth is near the $400 million-plus figure that's been reported. Representatives for David and Seinfeld didn't respond to interview requests for this story.

Still, it's fair to say that David and Seinfeld are both doing far better than most of their comedic brethren. Oliensis, a former financial adviser, said many comedians work for little to nothing as they try to get a foothold in the industry, and even those who make a full-time living from it may earn as little as $50,000 a year.

Oliensis considers himself fortunate to have a schedule filled with club and private bookings that can pay as much as $3,000 a night. But he conceded that things can change quickly for a comic who's not in the same league as Seinfeld or David.

"I'm a twisted balloon away from being a birthday clown," he joked.

-Charles Passy

This content was created by MarketWatch, which is operated by Dow Jones & Co. MarketWatch is published independently from Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal.


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03-22-24 1525ET

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