Everyone knows Arnie as a bodybuilder, the youngest ever Mr. Olympia, an actor, and as a governor of California. However, not too many people are aware of his success in the real estate investment area and that he made his first $1 million at the end of the 1970s at the age of 32, way before his key role in "Terminator." This amounts to $4.2M in the current money. His first superstar role, Conan, in "Conan the barbarian" came only in 1982. "Terminator" came out in 1984. So, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a wealthy and successful person before he became a superstar actor.
I wanted to be independent and for this, I started investing in real estate
Schwarzenegger started doing business at the age of 19: he wanted to buy the sports club he ran - and he did it, although he got into considerable debts. He promoted the club with his successes: victories in bodybuilding competitions, shooting for magazines, demonstration performances.
The pinnacle of his career was the victory at the "Mr. Universe" competition in 1967, after which he received an invitation to move to the United States - which he did without even knowing the language. There he entered the university and also continued to perform in bodybuilding competitions and give masterclasses - in fact, this was his main income.
It was these funds that he decided to invest: he invested in real estate and a company selling bodybuilding equipment. Also, together with fellow bodybuilder Franco Columbo, he opened the European Brick Works construction company.
The reason why Arnold paid so much attention to investment and business is the desire to be the master of his own career. He loved movies, but he often met people in the gym or in acting classes who had money problems - they were forced to take any job that was offered to them.
Schwarzenegger did not want to get into the same situation: he wanted to act in films not for the sake of money, but out of love for art. And so he focused on building a mini-empire before dedicating himself entirely to the cinema.
Earned $ 1 million in real estate
Schwarzenegger invested in apartment buildings. First, he invested $10,000 as a down payment for the purchase of a house of six apartments: he lived in one of them and rented out five others. And he received income from both the rent and the growth in the value of assets.
Three years later, he sold everything, having received a combined income of $169,000, after which he bought a building with 12 apartments - and then sold it, having acquired a house with 36 apartments. He did not spend on expensive cars and entertainment and reinvested almost all of his money in new real estate.
Schwarzenegger called those times "the magic decade". “Buildings that cost $500,000 grew in value to $800,000 over the course of the year,” Arnold said in Tim Ferris's book The Tools of the Giants. By the end of the 1970s, his fortune exceeded $1 million. His acting career in those years did not come close to bringing him such income.
Real estate was his favorite investment. He eventually became the owner of hundreds of apartments, office buildings, and retail spaces throughout America.
Took advice from Warren Buffett and invested in the best US stocks
Schwarzenegger was not limited to real estate investments: he also invested in securities - stocks and bonds. These were companies such as Abbott Laboratories, Coca-Cola, Pfizer, Target, Cisco, Citi, Walmart, General Electric.
The actor also invested in Starbucks - and, according to his investment manager Paul Wachter, it was Arnie's idea, although he rarely chose stocks on his own. And in 1999, Schwarzenegger became one of the investors in the young company Google. Among the latest investments are the papers of the American mobile game developer Scopely.
Schwarzenegger hired managers and relied on expert advice - in particular, he turned to Warren Buffett. According to friends of Arnold, from the "oracle of Omaha" he gets not so much advice on stocks, but on the whole economy. Another famous financial advisor to the actor is a professor at the University of Chicago Business School, Eugene Fama.
“He was always realistic about what he knew and what he didn't know,” said booking agent Lou Pitt, who advised Schwarzenegger on his film career in the 1980s and early 1990s.
He invested in barren land counting for a future airport nearby that never was built. But still made money.
No investor is without mistakes, and Arnold Schwarzenegger is no exception. He was one of the investors in the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain, receiving shares in exchange for participating in advertising. In 1999, the company filed for bankruptcy.
Not all big stocks made Arnie profit. The actor is known to have lost on investments in the tobacco company Phillip Morris and the Internet giant of the 1990s and 2000s AOL.
And in the 1970s, Schwarzenegger bought two parcels of land in the High Vista, California, confident that there would be an airport for supersonic aircraft. Arnold spent $15,000 buying 10 acres in the Mojave Desert, where there was no clean water or electricity.
“The idea was that in a short period of time there will be water, electricity, and roads, there was a whole plan for this area. We told ourselves that we were going to make a lot of money and become millionaires, ”Schwarzenegger told The Wall Street Journal.
But soon flights of supersonic aircraft over the territory of the United States were banned - the airport has not appeared there until now. However, this investment cannot be considered unsuccessful: he still owns these 10 acres, and due to the development of the city nearby, they increased in value - in 2018 the land was estimated at $1 million.
To date, Schwarzenegger's fortune is estimated at $400 million, of which $300 million is in real estate. He is one of the richest actors and probably the richest bodybuilder in the world.