Here's Who Inherited Ric Ocasek's Fortune After His Death

Ric Ocasek is best known as the lead singer and guitarist for the new wave pop rock band The Cars. Although the band had been together since the late 1970s, they reached the peak of their popularity in the mid-80s thanks to MTV and the release of 1984's "Heartbeat City." It was during the filming of a video for the song "Drive" that Ocasek met supermodel Paulina Porizkova (via All Music). He was 40 and she was 19 and though it seemed like an odd match, they soon married and remained a couple for almost 30 years (per Yahoo!). 

The Cars broke up in 1988, though they briefly reconnected in 2010 to make some new music and embark in a brief tour. Ocasek released music on his own too, but he essentially retired from performing after that. The marriage would eventually break up too. In 2018, Ocasek and Porizkova started divorce proceedings but continued to live together, sharing a large townhouse in New York City but not a bed. In fact, it was Porizkova who discovered the body of Ocasek on a Sunday morning in 2019, when she was bringing him coffee. Although he'd been recovering from a recent surgery, he died in his sleep from a combination of heart disease and pulmonary emphysema (via Page Six). 

The musician, who had been the main supporter and earner in the family for over 30 years, left behind six children and an estranged wife -– and a fortune that would cause heartbreak to many around him.

A debatable net worth

There's a bit of a debate regarding how much Ric Ocasek was worth at the time of his death. According to Mastry Law, Ocasek's will listed just over $5 million in assets — a shockingly low number for a rock star who had been in the spotlight for decades. The assets include mostly "copyrights," as well as $100,000 in "tangible personal property" and a very small amount (just $15,000) in cash.  

Porizkova, Ocasek's estranged wife, disputed the number, saying it was certainly not the real amount, but "just a sum that somebody put in for some reason ... [maybe] so that it wouldn't seem like he was maybe holding away a lot of money from me" (as reported via Page Six).  

The truth is that Ocasek was likely worth a lot more than $5 million. Forbes points out that the number likely didn't include the value of life insurance, trusts, joint accounts, and other assets. In September 2020, Ocasek's Gramercy Park Townhouse, which he shared with his estranged wife for almost 30 years, sold for $10 million; even with no other assets to his name, such a valuable property would have already exceeded the original $5 million net worth estimate (via Street Easy). Networth Gorilla estimates he was likely worth around $40 million, considering the money he would have made not only from his music but also royalties, endorsements, and brand promotions throughout the years.

Ocasek's will made a lot of people unhappy

Ocasek had a will when he died –- one he had just signed about a month before his death. At the time of his death, Ocasek was in the process of divorcing Porizkova after 28 years of marriage, but the couple still shared the NYC's Gramercy Park townhouse and were, it would seem, in amicable terms. Without a will, Porizkova would have been automatically entitled to certain part of the estate, since the divorce had not been finalized and the couple was still married (per Forbes).  

But Ocasek's will changed that. In a blindsiding move, he signed a will to ensure his estranged wife would get nothing. According to The Wealth Advisor, the will stated that he was leaving nothing to Porizkova as they were in the process of divorcing, adding that "even if I should die before our divorce is final ... Paulina is not entitled to any elective share ... because she has abandoned me."  According to Forbes, the "abandonment" part is important because New York law would have still considered Porizkova as having a right to part of the estate –- except in the case of spousal abandonment.

The will also excluded Ocasek's two older sons from receiving anything. The siblings, Chris and Adam, were born during Ocasek's first marriage to Constance Campbell. Ocasek left the marriage when his wife was pregnant with their second son and never had a close relationship with their two sons, who have recently expressed their father "was never present, never there" (via Page Six).

Contesting the will

The will didn't exclude Ocasek's four other children — the two he had with his second wife and the two he had with Porizkova, as reported via Page Six. Paulina Porizkova had no idea the will existed and would eventually share on social media how she felt blindsided and betrayed, as the two had continued to live under the same roof in what she believed was a friendly and supportive relationship (via Forbes).  Under New York law, Forbes points out Porizkova would have been entitled to one-third of his partner's assets without a will to say differently -– unless, of course, the claim of abandonment could be proven.

After contesting the will, it would take two years for Porizkova to finally settle with Ocasek's estate in October 2021. Although there's no exact information on how much she received, Forbes had originally estimated that if the $5 million asset value cited on the will was correct, Porizkova would be entitled to around $1.7 million.

In an interview after the settlement, Porizkova declined to share how much she had received, but said the number was very fair and she was given "what is mine under New York state law" (as reported via People). The home she shared with Ocasek was sold in September 2020, almost a year after the death of the musician. Originally listed for over $15 million, it eventually sold for $10 million. Though the supermodel continued to reside there until the sale went through, it's unclear how much of the money from the sale ended up going to her (via The Daily Mail).