After 'Jack Ryan' Creator Tom Clancy's Death; Here's How Royalties on His Work are Being Divided
If you're a fan of Tom Clancy's thrilling world of global espionage, chances are you're hooked as we are to his books and the "Jack Ryan" movies as well as gaming titles that emerged from his work. It's a bummer that Tom Clancy left us in 2013, but his legacy lives on, especially with Hollywood dishing out fresh Jack Ryan content. Take, for instance, Amazon's latest series, titled "Jack Ryan."
Who was Tom Clancy and what did he do?
If you ever think it's too late to strike gold, remember Clancy's story. He didn't start his writing career until he was 38. Before that, he spent 15 years working at an insurance company that his wife's grandfather started, while writing novels was just his side gig.
Clancy hit the jackpot in 1984 when he sold his first book, "The Hunt for Red October," to the Naval Institute Press for $5,000. But here's the twist: they were worried it had too many military secrets. They even doubted if Tom was the real author, wondering how an insurance guy knew so much about submarines and Russians.
Books and earnings
But Clancy stood his ground, keeping all those technical details in his book, and while the target was to sell 5,000 copies, 45,000 of those flew off the shelves right after being released. When President Ronald Reagan gave it a thumbs up, sales soared further to a whopping 300,000. In just three years, Clancy raked in $1.3 million from royalties and said goodbye to the insurance gig.
"The Hunt for Red October," went on to sell over 5 million copies, and on his next deal in 1988, Clancy cashed in big time with $3 million for the next three novels. His 1988 book, "Clear and Present Danger," became the 80s' best-selling novel, with two million copies sold in 1989 alone.
Fast forward to 1997, and Penguin Putnam threw $50 million at Tom for the worldwide rights to his next two books. Add in TV rights and other goodies, and Tom walked away with a cool $97 million that year. To date, his books have sold over 100 million copies worldwide.
Here's a fun fact: Tom's characters and stories inspired video games like "Rainbow Six," "Ghost Recon," and "Splinter Cell." In 2008, Ubisoft coughed up over $100 million just to use Tom Clancy's name.
Tom Clancy's investments
Tom Clancy lived the good life on an 80-acre estate in Maryland, with a shooting range and a World War II tank, which was his first wife's Christmas present. He also had a fancy $16 million penthouse in Baltimore, and expanded the 80-acre-estate to cover a whopping 535 acres.
In 1993, he spent $42 million on a chunk of the Baltimore Orioles, and in 1998, he almost snagged a piece of the Minnesota Vikings. But a divorce settlement with his first wife changed plans, and she ended up with half of his Orioles stake. That Orioles stake turned out to be a cash cow, pulling in $230 million in profits.
Clancy and his first wife, Wanda, had four kids together, but they called it quits in '99. Along with a bunch of money, Tom set up a new company for his future books, making sure Wanda and the kids got a slice.
Before the divorce drama, Clancy had his business game on point. In '85, he made Jack Ryan Enterprises LTD, with Wanda owning 40% and Tom taking 60%. Then in '92, Jack Ryan Limited Partnership came along, with Wanda and him as equal owners.
After the divorce, Clancy got hitched again, this time to Alexandra Marie Llewellyn. They had a daughter together, making Tom a dad for the fifth time.
So, who gets the profits from his books now?
When Tom Clancy passed away, he left behind four grown-up kids from his first marriage with Wanda and one child with his second wife, Alexandra. His will spelled out that 80% of his fortune would go to Alexandra, while the remaining 20% would be split among his five children.
Before we dive into the financial maze, remember those two companies Tom set up during his first marriage? Let's call them Corp 1 and Corp 2. Tom owned 60% of Corp 1 and 50% of Corp 2. When he passed away, Alexandra got 80% of those shares, and the kids got the rest. Wanda's stakes from the first marriage stayed intact.
Now, for Corp 2, 80% of Tom's 50 shares went to Alexandra (40 shares), and the kids divided the rest (2 shares each). Wanda kept her 50 shares.
But in a lawsuit Alexandra filed in 2017, she argued that when these companies were set up in '85 and '93, there was no specific mention of the character "Jack Ryan." So, she claimed 100% ownership of the character.
The lawsuit didn't pan out, but we learned that when Jack Ryan character royalties roll in, they're divided like this:
1/3 to Jack Ryan Enterprises
1/3 to Tom's estate (Alexandra)
1/3 to Jack Ryan Limited Partnership
Now, let's say Amazon drops $30 million on the Jack Ryan series (totally made up, but hey). Here's the breakdown:
$10 million to Corp 1
$4 million to Wanda
$4.8 million to Alexandra
$240,000 to each of the five kids
$10 million goes to Alexandra. (Alexandra is the sole beneficiary of this distribution.)
$10 million goes to Corp 2 ($5 million goes to Wanda, $4 million goes to Alexandra, $200,000 goes to each of the five kids.)
When it's all said and done on a $30 million deal:
Wanda: $4 million + $5 million = $9 million
Five kids: $240,000 + 200,000 = $440,000 each
Alexandra: $4.8 million + $10 million + $4 million = $18.8 million
In a nutshell, Wanda takes home the biggest slice of the pie when it comes to Jack Ryan's royalties and the profits from Clancy's earlier novels.
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