FILE - In this Aug. 22, 2017, file photo, comic book writer Stan Lee waves to the audience after being introduced onstage at the "Extraordinary: Stan Lee" tribute event at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, Calif. Comic book genius Lee, the architect of the contemporary comic book, has died. He was 95. The creative dynamo who revolutionized the comics by introducing human frailties in superheroes such as Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four and The Incredible Hulk, was declared dead Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to Kirk Schenck, an attorney for Lee's daughter, J.C. Lee. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
JOHANNESBURG - Iconic comic book titan, Stan Lee, passed away at the age of 95 on Monday. 

Lee was arguably the most famous comic book writer of all time, however, not much was known about his wealth. 

According to reports, Lee’s net worth was often estimated to be between $50m (R718 million to $80m (R 114 million). 

Lee himself said that he had made many unwise business decisions over the years which resulted in him leaving lots of money on the table. 

Lee is credited for creating many of the characters in the popular Marvel universe  movies, which grossed over $24 billion at the box office.

As a writer and editor, Lee was key to the ascension of Marvel into the comic book titan it became in the 1960s.

Lee, in collaboration with artists such as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, created superheroes who would enthrall generations of young readers.  

FILE - In this April 11, 2012, file photo,Stan Lee arrives at the premiere of "The Avengers" in Los Angeles. Comic book genius Lee, the architect of the contemporary comic book, has died. He was 95. The creative dynamo who revolutionized the comics by introducing human frailties in superheroes such as Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four and The Incredible Hulk, was declared dead Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to Kirk Schenck, an attorney for Lee's daughter, J.C. Lee. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)

HE EVOLVED CHARACTERS 

Lee was widely credited with adding a new layer of complexity and humanity to superheroes. 

His characters were not made of stone - even if they appeared to have been chiseled from granite. 

They had love and money worries and endured tragic flaws or feelings of insecurity.

STRUGGLES 

Lee, as a hired hand at Marvel, received limited payback on the windfall from his characters.

In a 1998 contract, he wrestled a clause for 10 percent of profits from movies and TV shows with Marvel characters. 

In 2002, he sued to claim his share, months after "Spider-Man" conquered movie theatres. In a legal settlement three years later, he received a $10 million one-time payment.

Hollywood studios made superheroes the cornerstone of their strategy of producing fewer films and relying on big profits from blockbusters. Some people assumed that, as a result, Lee's wealth had soared. He disputed that.

FILE - In this June 28, 2017 file photo, Stan Lee arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "Spider-Man: Homecoming" at the TCL Chinese Theatre. Lee’s restraining order against a former business manager has been extended for three years. A Los Angeles Superior Court judge approved the move Friday, aug. 17, 2018, ordering Keya Morgan to stay away from the Marvel Comics mogul and his family. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)


"I don't have $200 million. I don't have $150 million. I don't have $100 million or anywhere near that," Lee told Playboy magazine in 2014. Having grown up in the Great Depression, Lee added that he was "happy enough to get a nice paycheck and be treated well."

In 2008, Lee was awarded the National Medal of Arts, the highest government award for creative artists.

WATCH: 8 Expensive things that Stan Lee owned: 


BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE / REUTERS