Fortune helped fuel Kennedys' legacy

Biggest wealth source was father's business; other assets, salary, royalties boosted total.

08/31/2009 12:00 AM

08/30/2009 11:01 PM

Sen. Edward Kennedy's family fortune not only fueled his brothers' presidential campaigns and his eight terms in the U.S. Senate, it also helped drive the family's liberal legacy and forge Kennedy's lifelong crusade for universal health care.

Just how wealthy was Kennedy when he died Tuesday at 77 after a yearlong battle with brain cancer?

Untangling a family fortune that reaches back to the early days of the past century is difficult, but the annual federal financial disclosure reports that Kennedy was required to file provide a partial glimpse.

As a U.S. senator, Kennedy earned a base salary of $165,200 a year.

On the most recent report in 2008, Kennedy listed a string of publicly and non-publicly traded trusts and assets.

Kennedy has other sources of income, including $1,995,833 in royalties he received from Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Group Book, publishers of his memoir “True Compass,” which is scheduled to be released in mid-September. Part of the proceeds will go to charity, including the John F. Kennedy Library.

The main source of Kennedy's wealth was his father and family patriarch, Joseph P. Kennedy, who amassed a fortune in banking, real estate, liquor, films and Wall Street holdings that grew to an estimated $500 million by the 1980s.

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