Richie Rich and his family have been endeared characters by the general public since they were first introduced by creators Alfred Harvey and Warner Kremer through Harvey Comics. First appearing in comic books, they were the most successful series for the company during their glory days from 1950-1982. Christened by pop culture as “the richest kid in the world” or “the poor little rich boy”, Richie’s popularity spawned an animated television series and several movies. The most notable incarnation of Richie and his family came in 1994’s comedy-family film starring Macaulay Culkin as the boy wonder.
Forbes did an investigation looking at the family’s imaginary assets to try and measure their wealth. In their 2011 list Forbes’ Fictional Fifteen, they announced that the Rich family would be worth around $9.7B, currently holding the number 4 position ahead of The Beverly Hillbilly’s Jed Clampett and a spot behind Irish crime family scion Artemis Fowl II. We do our own analysis and look at everything portrayed in the 1994 film: from the history of the Rich family’s massive estate, the cost of their enormous sculpted mountain entitled Mount Richmore, the net worth of Rich Industries, their philanthropic efforts, countless luxury vehicles, Richie’s private school education, and other notable family splurges:
The Rich Family Estate
Richie’s cartoon incarnation is set in the fictitious Richville, while the motion picture is set in Chicago. For the large Rich mansion, the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina was commissioned as the prime location. According to North Carolina History’s website, the Biltmore Estate has an estimated market value of approximately $125,000.0000. Built by George Washington Vanderbilt in 1895, the estate was so big that he had to build a village on the property to accommodate the workers during construction. For convenience, Vanderbilt built a brick manufactory, wood working company and railroad on the mansion’s grounds. The 125,000-acre estate is described on the website as having “flowing streams and springs and pools of water, towering oak and poplar trees, and clumps of sweet-smelling azaleas and dogwoods” and a “seemingly endless green lawn.” In addition, the mansion has 200 rooms, stables and a lake.
The Rich family would not only spend a fortune buying this home, but also spend enormous amounts for a staff of at least a hundred (butlers, drivers, nannies, maids, chefs, cooks, body guards, gardeners, electrical technicians, not to mention the dozen scientists working day and night at the Rich family’s underground laboratory). In addition, we’re pretty sure that the actual maintenance and servicing for keeping such a house costs an arm and a leg. Think of the bill for the property tax, village association dues, and the maintenance fees and bills for electricity, water, gas and gardening.
The Rich Family was building their very own Mount Rushmore during the movie. Their version, rightfully named Mount Richmore, is very similar to the American monument in South Dakota. Although, their faces are sculpted onto the mountain instead of past American presidents. Originally, the real Mount Rushmore took 14 years to construct (between 1927 to 1941) and cost $989.992.32. If it cost just as much as it did back then, the family would have to spend approximately $9,980,738, taking into consideration inflation in 1994. Inside Mount Richmore is the Rich family’s extra-secured vault, which is only accessible by voice activation of Richard and Regina Rich. Imagine the cost of that in 1994!
The family’s main source of income is their business empire Rich Industries, where Richie acts as a CEO in the film when he thinks his parents died in a tragic plane crash. Their main specialty: science and inventions. In the comic book, the company was responsible for such programs such as a website for high net worth hounds called DollarDog.net and a message service using robotic maids. In the film, several new inventions were introduced like bullet proof clothing, a robotic bee that costs “millions and millions of dollars” (trusted butler Herbert Cadbury swats it with a newspaper), and the Smell Master 9000, which according to Richard Rich, “converts any smell within 20 yards into a digital audio signal.” Being able to throw away millions of dollars for these prototypes all whilst owning a company building and large estate must put the Rich family in the upper crust of the 1%. To break this down, we revert back to Forbes’ information on the possible net worth of the Richie Rich. Being the only son and scion of Richard Rich, we can safety presume that their entire company’s assets costs a hefty $9B.
Richard and Regina Rich’s job descriptions doesn’t only include billionaires and business people, but also philanthropists. Though not much is said about the Rich’s charitable efforts in the motion picture, we do have a small clue. Richie flies via helicopter to a once-closed down factory called United Tool for re-opening ceremony. Their family decided to invest into the factory, saving 600 jobs from disappearing. If we were to guess how much the family spent for this singular kindness, we would say probably over a million dollars.
The Rich Families’ Private Helicopter, Airplane and Multiple Luxury Cars
Throughout the movie, the Rich family is seen in countless vehicles. Some notable ones include the Lincoln Town Car Stretched Limousine and a 1936 Packard One-Twenty. They are also seen riding in several Rolls-Royces including the 1959 Phantom V and 1950 Silver Dawn, which has a combined value of approximately $290,000. When not in one of their premium land automobiles, the family choose to travel by air. To own a luxury helicopter like theirs (which is decorated with their family crest), one would be set back around $14.5 million. This is implying that the Rich family would only want the best of the best, and had purchased something similar to the AW139 helicopter. This model has top of the line technology, and was originally designed for military patrol. However, rich clients can purchase the unit and have it done with mahogany interiors. Their private airplane, called Million Dollar One, is a Douglas DC-3 unit, a revolutionary model first introduced in 1936. Originally, the plane’s initial price was at $79,5000. But in 1994, theirs would cost a pretty $852,072.
Richie’s Top Notch Education
Richie’s school, located on a stately country manor is equipped with laptops, leather chairs, tailors, putting greens and a top of the line health club. Although we doubt the strict professors of such schools would allow their students to stay on their cellphones and have a tuxedo fitted during class, there are actually schools this high end. We looked at MSN.com’s list of the 20 Most Expensive Private High Schools in America. On top of the list was the Hotchkiss School, the most expensive preparatory school in the country, and the most fitting for Richie’s education. If enrolled in a school as esteemed as this, Mr. and Mrs. Rich would have to spend a hefty $43,475 (for non-boarding students) a year on tuition alone.
The campus is quite impressive. It is equipped with a 270-acre organic farm, terrains for bird watching and its very own Hotchkiss woods. The Ester Eastman Center on campus houses a 615-seater proscenium theater, 12 practice rooms, 3 ensemble practice rooms, a radio station, a handmade Fazioli F308 piano, 12 Steinway pianos and a Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) lab. Athletic facilitates at the Forrest E. Mars Jr. Athletic Center includes an indoor tennis court, eight international squash courts, a wrestling room, a hardwood basketball court, a 10-lane pool and separate diving well, an Olympic rink, and a multipurpose indoor exercise track. The outdoors sports complex includes a golf course (which was voted as one of the best nine holes in the country), an all-weather track, tennis courts, climbing walls, hiking trails and a boathouse for sailing on Lake Wononscopomuc.
Other Family Splurges
Several scenes in the 1994 movie showed some of the Rich Family’s crazy splurges. Although we’ll never really know how much some of these things cost (I’m sure Mr. Rich was able to pull some connections) in real life, it’s still absolutely fun to talk about them. Near the beginning of the movie, Richie invites the New York Yankees to play a private game of baseball in his mansion, even having the very famous Mr. October Reggie Jackson in attendance. Richie’s room is extremely large for somebody his age and is armed with top of the line technology, including a personal communication device called the Dad Link, which connects him directly to his father’s cellphone (think FaceTime in 1994). The family has their own franchise of McDonald’s occupying one of the estate’s 200 rooms (and we’re sure operating costs for that are massive). During the montage of recreation activities Richie does with his friends, we see that they own several theme park attractions placed somewhere on the grounds. There is the catapult that launches him and his friend’s tens of feet into the air, a private roller coaster once used at Six Flags, and numerous ATVs and jet skis to be used at their disposal.
By Chino R. Hernandez
All photographs from Warner Brother’s Richie Rich (1994)