Here's How Much Billie Holiday Was Worth When She Died

For any lover of music, or compelling stories in general, the biographical drama The United States vs. Billie Holiday is a must-see. The lead role, that of Billie Holiday herself, was given to Andra Day, who prepared for her part in a very unusual way. Day is a perfect casting for the iconic jazz and blues singer and was actually discovered by Stevie Wonder's wife. And Day, who already has an impressive net worth, is only going to grow in terms of success after landing the lead role in such an important film.

It's not just Day who's taking a big step in her career. Actor Garrett Hedlund was cast to play Harry Anslinger, the man who was appointed head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and who went after Holiday, according to Politico.

While we're obsessed with the cast who starred in the drama, we're even more invested in Holiday herself, who had a life that was compelling, painful, and definitely worth re-telling. One of the more tragic parts of Holiday's life has to do with her net worth. In fact, when she died, her net worth was not what might be expected. Keep reading. 

Billie Holiday helped her mother start a restaurant with her earnings

Billie Holiday defined jazz, as the Sunday Post put it — a simple statement to sum up the magnitude and power that Holiday had over the music industry. Despite her success, which has never faded, Holiday's life was a hard one. She was physically abused as a child, was a survivor of sexual assault, and became a sex worker at the age of 13, according to the outlet. Then, in the 1940s, she began using heroin, according to USA Today.

Racism also followed her throughout her career and, as USA Today, recalls, once Holiday was told to use the freight elevator at a hotel so that white guests wouldn't be offended.

Despite this cruelty, Holiday still continued to rise and once she started making money, she would allegedly come home from tours with thousands of dollars stuffed into her pockets. However, financial success wasn't hugely important to Holiday. "It wasn't about amassing a vast fortune in her bank account," the Sunday Post wrote. "It was more about earning enough to make her mother happy and give herself some time to chill out and relax." Case in point: Holiday used part of her income to help her mother set up a restaurant.

Unfortunately, Holiday couldn't break free of addiction and the majority of her money went to this, according to NPR. She died at age 44 of heart and liver failure due to "drug and alcohol use." When she died, Holiday allegedly had her life savings of $750 "strapped to her leg."

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse and mental health, please contact SAMHSA's 24-hour National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).