John Kluge Net Worth & Biography

Popular Name: John Kluge
Real Name: John Werner Kluge
Birth Date: September 21, 1914
Birth Place: Chemnitz, German Empire (today Chemnitz, Germany)
Age: Died on September 7, 2010 (aged 95)
Gender: Male
Nationality/Citizenship: American, German
Height: N/A
Weight: N/A
Sexuality: Straight
Marital Status: Married
Spouse(s): Theodora Thomson Townsend
Yolanda Galardo Zucco
Patricia Maureen Rose
Maria Tussi Kuttner
Children: 6
Profession: Businessman, Entrepreneur, Investor
Years active: N/A
Net Worth: $6.5 Billion
Last Updated: 2022

John Kluge, ranked as one of the least popular but most powerful tycoons in the modern television industry in America, was the chairman of the Board for Metromedia International Group. Born in the year 1914 in Chemnitz, Germany, Kluge served in United States Army intelligence between 1941-45 after Immigrating to the United States in 1922. His business model proved that a group of independent television stations could make millions of dollars. His company, Metromedia, Inc., pioneered independent stations operations in the 1960s and 1970s. In the mid-1980s media mogul Rupert Murdoch offered Kluge almost $2 billion for his Metromedia stations, and the deal made Kluge one of the wealthiest persons in the United States. However, It was the food business that led John Kluge to television. In 1951 he invested in a food brokerage enterprise in Baltimore, Maryland, and increased the venture’s profits dramatically before selling his majority stake in the mid-1950s, after which he started to look for another industry that would be beneficial to him financially. He found television. In 1956, Kluge assembled an investment group and acquired the former DuMont stations. He ran Metromedia on a tight budget, employed money-saving schemes, and eventually made millions with relatively small audiences. Under his management, Metromedia grew into the biggest independent television business in America. More details follow below.

Early Life: Childhood, Education

Born September 21, 1914, in Chemnitz, Germany, Kluge attended Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He also attended Columbia University from which he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1937.

Professional Life: Entrepreneurial Career

Once he had started to make profits from the Metromedia International Group, John Kluge purchased assorted businesses to include in his Metromedia empire. Over the years he acquired Playbill magazine, television production and syndication units, music publishing companies holding like Fiddler on the Roof, Zorba the Greek, and Cabaret, the Harlem Globetrotters, and the Ice Capades. He reached his greatest successes in the television business by purchasing the syndication rights to M*A*S*H. With this asset, the steadfast workaholic finally gave rival network affiliates an intense contest for ratings in the early fringe time period. Not one to sit still, early in the 1980s, Kluge cooked up a deal to privatize Metromedia. In 1984, by structuring a $1.3 billion leveraged takeover on unusually favorable terms, he finally owned three-quarters of the new company and bagged $115 million in cash in the process. Now private and in full control, he did not think twice when Rupert Murdoch approached him with a mouthwatering sum of $2 billion to buy Metromedia’s television stations.

Out of the television industry, Kluge decided to attend to his other businesses. Under the Metromedia name, he started to manufacture mobile phones and paging devices. In managing these telecommunication ventures, he retraced the steps he took during his time in the television business: buy a license in a big market at an affordable price, then exercise patience for the market to evolve, and finally cash in.

John Kluge Net Worth

In 1995 an agreement was signed by Metromedia International Telecommunications Inc., MCEG Sterling Inc., Orion Pictures Corp., and the Actava Group Inc. to form a global communications entity that will be called Metromedia International Group Inc. At the time, Kluge already owned a major interest in Hollywood’s Orion Pictures. The new four-part alliance merged Hollywood production skills and wireless cable to sell all kinds of mass communication to citizens in the former Soviet Republics and in Eastern Europe.


Asides from his business establishments and professional career success, Mr. Kluge was also well-known for his philanthropic side. He donated an unprecedented $60 million to institute the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. In addition, his gift was meant to establish a $1 million prize to be awarded in recognition of a lifetime of achievement in human sciences, similar to the Nobel Prizes in economics and literature. The Kluge Prize would honor intellectual achievement in the same way that the Kennedy Center Honors recognize achievement in the performing arts.

Kluge also donated more than $510 million to Columbia University. In 2001, he donated his 7,378-acre estate in Albemarle County, Virginia to the University of Virginia. The estate, estimated to be worth over $45 million, was the largest donation ever received by the University in its history.


The business magnate, John Kluge, passed away on September 7, 2010, in Charlottesville, Virginia.

John Kluge Net Worth: Salary, Income Sources, Assets

John Kluge was a German-born entrepreneur who had a fortune of $6.5 billion dollars at the time of his demise. He was best known in the United States television industry as one of the most accomplished media entrepreneurs of his time. His wealth came from his investment in the Metropolitan Broadcasting Corporation which had holdings in television and radio. Kluge also owned an outdoor advertising company Metromedia which he also managed until it was sold off for roughly $2 Billion.

Mr. Kluge was, at one time, known to be one of the wealthiest people in the United States. A determined and influential businessman, he was simply one of the greatest men in the business during his time.

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