Kennedy Family Net Worth: How Wealthy Are Ted Kennedy's Living Relatives Today?

The film Chappaquiddick, released Friday, tells the story of Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy’s role in the July 18, 1969, drowning death of Mary Jo Kopechne, a 28-year-old campaign strategist. But the ensuing narrative intertwines the investigation into Kopechne’s death with the Kennedy family’s ability to use their immense wealth and connections to remain one of the most illustrious names in U.S. politics.

So how wealthy are the Kennedys, an aristocratic clan that continues to usher new members of its prominent family tree into politics to this day? According to Forbes magazine, the top 30 members of the Kennedy family are worth a combined estimate of $1.2 billion.

Ted Kennedy earned a base salary of $165,200 per year during the eight terms he served in the U.S. Senate, according to publicly available government records. But that income pales in comparison to the vast millions amassed by Ted and the Kennedy family dating back to Joseph Patrick Kennedy Sr.’s liquor distribution and stock brokerage businesses of the 1920s. Fortune magazine first published its richest people in the United States list in 1957. The inaugural list placed Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. in the $200 to $400 million range, about $1.74 billion to $3.48 billion today.

RTX60D6 How wealthy is the Kennedy family? Friday's release of "Chappaquiddick" intertwines both the investigation into Mary Jo Kopechne’s death as well as the Kennedy family’s ability to use their immense wealth and connections to remain one of the most illustrious names in U.S. politics. Reuters

At the time of Joseph P. Kennedy’s death in 1969, he left an estimated $400 million (or about $2.67 billion today) to Bobby, Teddy, Eunice, Patricia and Jean Kennedy, according to Gerald Posner, author of the 1993 book Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK. Much of that money is believed to have come from massive real estate deals, including his sale of the land where New York City’s Lincoln Center is today.

A 2006 Roll Call investigation into Ted Kennedy’s financial-disclosure documents found he listed five family trust funds worth between $45 million and $150 million. Under Congressional rules, members are allowed to list finances in very broad brackets. Per Roll Call’s report, “Kennedy estimated that those trusts distributed $500,000 to $5 million in annual income.”

At the time of his death from brain cancer in 2009, Ted Kennedy was at the peak of his wealth. His financial filings through December 2008 showed assets between $45 million and $150 million, The Daily Beast revealed in 2009.

Ted Kennedy’s widow, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, has an estimated net worth today of $60 million, according to The Richest.

Several members of the Kennedy clan throughout the U.S. continue to hold various public offices and run multimillion-dollar businesses. Financial records show the Kennedy family still uses several trust funds, many of them blind trusts, though only the family financial advisers could know exactly how many there are for certain.

Ted’s son, Edward Moore Kennedy Jr., represents the 12th district in the Connecticut Senate with an annual salary of $174,00, but he is listed in Ted’s multimillion-dollar will as one of the children with access to the Edward M. Kennedy 2006 Trust. Joseph P. Kennedy III represents the 4th District of Massachusetts with an annual salary of $62,500 but an estimated net worth of between $18 million and $43 million primarily from family trusts, according to Roll Call’s “Wealth of Congress” report.

Caroline Kennedy, who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Japan from 2013 through 2017, has an estimated net worth of $250 million, according to The Richest. Forbes lists Caroline as likely the wealthiest member of the Kennedy family.

Christopher G. Kennedy, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for Illinois’s gubernatorial race in March of this year, is valued between $40 and $175 million, according to the Chicago Tribune.

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