What was Leonard Cohen’s net worth?
Leonard Cohen was a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician and author who had a net worth of $10 million at the time of is death in 2016. Leonard died on November 10, 2016 at the age of 82 in Los Angeles. His net worth would have been much higher but Leonard lost an alleged $10+ million through from a business manager’s mismanagement and theft. Leonard Cohen’s work explored themes of isolation, loss, romance, depression, and politics. He was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and is well-known for one of his most famous songs, “Hallelujah.”
He published his first book of poetry in the mid-50s, and then relocated to New York to attend Columbia University. He chose to leave Columbia after a year, and returned to Canada. He wrote his second book of poetry, “The Spice Box of Earth” in the early 60s. The book was a success, and catapulted him into wider recognition. Though he had early success as a writer, it was difficult to sustain that momentum. He returned to the US to focus on building a music career, and went on to record an incredible series of albums and tracks, which have earned him inclusion in both the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, as well as four decades of dedicated fans.
For much of his career, Leonard business manager was a woman named Kelley Lynch. In the early 2000s Leonard reportedly began to notice some potential improprieties in his accounts. For example he allegedly noticed that he had personally covered Lynch’s $75,000 credit card bill. Around this time he noticed that most of the money in his various accounts, including retirement and charitable trusts, was gone. Cohen allegedly discovered that the financial mismanagement began in the mid-1990s when Lynch started selling off his music rights. The mismanagement reportedly began soon after he entered a Zen Buddhist retreat.
In 2005 Cohen sued Kelley Lynch alleging that she misappropriated his finances “through greed, self-dealing, concealment, knowing misrepresentation and reckless disregard for professional fiduciary duties”. He alleged that his retirement account alone had been drained from over $5 million down to roughly $150,000. In March 2006 he won a civil suit and was awarded a $9 million judgment.
Cohen was born in September of 1934 in Westmount, Quebec, Canada. He was born into an Orthodox Jewish family. His mother, originally from Lithuania, was the daughter of a Talmudic writer and rabbi, while his father was the son of Canadian Jewish Congress founder, Lyon Cohen. His father owned a clothing store and died when Cohen was nine years old. Cohen attended Roslyn Elementary School and then Herzliah High School before transferring to Westmount High School. There he studied music and poetry and was very involved in the school’s theatre program. After graduating from Westmount, he enrolled at McGill University. While there, he published some of his first poems. Some of his literary influences were William Butler Yeats, Irving Layton, Walt Whitman, and Henry Miller, among others.
Cohen published his first book of poetry, “Let Us Compare Mythologies,” in 1956. While he completed a semester of law school at McGill and also a year of studies at the Columbia University School of General Studies, Cohen ultimately decided to work a number of odd jobs in order to focus on writing fiction and poetry. He published his next book of poetry, “The Spice-Box Earth,” in 1961. He continued writing poetry and fiction throughout the 1960s. He moved to Hydra, one of the Greek Islands. While there, he published “Flowers for Hitler,” “The Favourite Game,” and “Beautiful Losers.”
In the late 1960s and into the 1970s, Cohen wrote less but instead focused on recording songs. He moved to the United States in 1967 to pursue a career as folk-music singer-songwriter. He was a fringe figure in Andy Warhol’s “factory” crowd. One of his earliest entries into singing and songwriting was with artist Judy Collins. Cohen wrote the song “Suzanne” for Collins, which she subsequently recorded. He also would perform with Collins sometimes. Cohen also began performing at folk festivals and caught the attention of Columbia Records producer, John Hammond. Hammond signed Cohen to a record deal. His first album, “Songs of Leonard Cohen,” was released in the U.S. in 1967 but largely dismissed. However, it became quite popular in the U.K. when it was released in 1968. In 1969, he released “Songs from a Room.”
In 1971, film director Robert Altman featured several of Cohen’s songs in the film “McCabe & Mrs. Miller.” The film is largely considered a masterpiece by many critics and it is widely believed that Cohen’s songs are integral to the film. In 1970, Cohen also began touring for the first time in the U.S., Europe, and Canada. He continued touring for much of the 1970s and performed at a number of notable festivals, like the Montreux Jazz Festival.
In 1977, Cohen release the album “Death of a Ladies’ Man,” which was somewhat of a departure in sound for him. The following year, he released a book of poetry, his first in a number of years, called “Death of a Lady’s Man.” He released a new album in 1979, “Recent Songs,” that saw him return to a more traditional acoustic and jazz sound.
In the early 1980s, Cohen co-wrote the rock musical film, “Night Magic.” He also released an album, “Various Positions,” in 1984. The album featured the track “Hallelujah.” The song experienced limited success at first but then became more popular when it was covered by John Cale in 1991. It received even more commercial attention when it was featured in the 2001 animated film, “Shrek,” as performed by Rufus Wainwright. Since its inception, the song has been performed by nearly 200 artist in various languages.
Throughout the 1990s, Cohen continued producing both music and writing. He published “Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs” in 1993. He also released “More Best of Leonard Cohen,” a best-of album, in 1997. For much of the 1990s, beginning in 1994, Cohen spent time at the Mt. Baldy Zen Center in Los Angeles. He was ordained as a Rinzai Zen Buddhist monk in 1996.
After taking several years away from music, Cohen released “Ten New Songs” in 2001. It won him four Canadian Juno Awards. The following year, he was invested with Canada’s highest civilian honor, the Companion of the Order of Canada. He released another album in 2004 entitled “Dear Heather” followed by “Blue Alert” in 2006. He toured extensively between 2008 and 2013 and then released three final albums – “Old Ideas,” “Popular Problems,” and “You Want it Darker.” A posthumous album, “Thanks for the Dance,” was released in November of 2019.
Personal Life and Death
Cohen was in a relationship with Marianne Ihlen for most of the 1960s. They lived together at his house in Hydra. They remained close even after they were no longer together. He briefly had a relationship with Janis Joplin in the late 1960s and then dated artist Suzanne Elrod during the 1970s before separating in 1979. During their relationship, they had two children – Adam and Lorca. Cohen was in a relationship with Dominque Issermann in the 1980s. He was then linked to Rebecca De Mornay in the late 1990s.
Cohen died on November 7, 2016 at the age of 82. Leukemia was contributing cause of his death. His funeral was held in Montreal on November 10. Numerous tributes were paid to Cohen following his death. He is considered by many to be one of the most influential musicians and writers of modern times.