Here's How Much J.D. Salinger Was Worth When He Died

J.D. Salinger, the author perhaps best known for the classic novel The Catcher in the Rye, was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. Before his monumental classic was published, Salinger spent much of his time writing short stories, some of them influenced by real-life events, and some featuring workings of what would become the main character of The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield, per PBS. Salinger would send his story "Slight Rebellion Off Madison" to The New Yorker, who would shelve his work for five years before publishing it. During this time, the author would serve in World War II, working as Counter-Intelligence Agent. Salinger would land on Utah Beach in France during the Normandy Invasion and take part in the Battle of the Bulge, per Biography. Even while risking his life fighting overseas, Salinger would continue working on his writing.

When Salinger returned home in 1946, he would soon get his writing published in The New Yorker. In 1951, The Catcher in the Rye would be published, changing his life forever. Salinger would try to keep to himself more and more, eventually becoming a recluse until his death.

J.D. Salinger's net worth

He only published the one novel in his lifetime, but when Salinger died, he was worth $20 million, per Celebrity Net Worth. Since The Catcher in the Rye was published, it has sold over 65 million copies. The classic grew in popularity due to its controversial themes and characters — some schools even banned it, per CNN. The book was also an obsession for murderer Mark David Chapman, who had a copy of the book with him when he shot and killed John Lennon in 1980.

The author also made money from selling the rights to one of his short stories to producer Darryl Zanuck in 1948. The story, originally published in The New Yorker and titled "Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut," was released as the film My Foolish Heart in 1949 and earned Susan Hayward an Oscar nomination, per Mental Floss. Salinger hated the movie and kept producers from making a film of any of his other work. He also sued his biographer, Ian Hamilton, in the 1980s. The Supreme Court gave Salinger the win and barred Hamilton from writing the book.