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U2
Music
Rank 2017
22
Worth
€645m
Rise/fall
€4m

Forty-one years after U2 formed in Dublin, they are still selling out concerts worldwide. The band’s Joshua Tree tour, which begins in May, features 33 concerts in nine countries. Although U2, soon to release their 14th studio album, earn more than €4m annually from their back catalogue, merchandise and airplay of their music, it is concerts that make the big money. Paul Hewson (Bono), 56, Adam Clayton, 56, Dave Evans (the Edge), 55, and Larry Mullen, 55, all grew up in Dublin and they formed the band at Mount Temple Comprehensive School. Paul McGuinness (qv), who managed them from 1978 until 2013, was often referred to as the fifth member as they grew to become one of the world’s biggest bands in the 1980s and 1990s and also began campaigning on poverty, disease and social justice. They have sold more than 170m records worldwide and won 22 Grammy awards, more than any other band. U2’s royalty income has been largely tax-free since they controversially moved a lot of their operations to the Netherlands in 2005. We estimate their career earnings and the residual value of their back catalogue at €604m. Band members invest in various outside projects. Bono is a managing director of Silicon Valley-based venture capital company Elevation Partners, which has made at least a €600m profit on its investments in Facebook, Yelp and Dropbox. The frontman’s share of these profits is not disclosed but we conservatively add €39m to his worth. Clayton has become an art connoisseur, with an interest in Jean-Michel Basquiat. In 2015, the band paid €450,000 to buy the building on Hanover Quay where they recorded some of their albums. We deduct from Bono and Mullen the €1.7m damages they were ordered to pay in December after accusing a Brazilian promoter of not paying them for concerts played in 1998.