Date of birth: 16/8/1958 Industry: Music 2006 est. wealth: £248 m
Born Madonna Louise Ciccone in Bay City, Michigan. Madonna is known as the Queen of Pop as well as the Queen of Reinvention. In 2001 Madonna was credited by Guinness as the most successful female recording artist of all time and with estimated worldwide sales of over 140 million albums in her career since Like a Virgin, which made her a cool $250,000 in 1985. Madonna is now known as the highest earning female singer of all time, according to the 2007 Guinness Book of Records.
Between 1986 to 1993 her total earnings were estimated at £125 million as she took better control of her deals and cut a controversial path through the music industry, peaking with the furore over her Like A Prayer video which caused the Vatican to get all in a lather. In early 1989, Madonna signed an endorsement deal with soft drink manufacturer Pepsi, for which she was reportedly paid $5 million. This was also the period of the iconic pointy bras as she displayed her Blonde Ambition with hit after hit.
At the same time she also turned her hand to movies with mixed fortunes - Desperately Seeking Susan was well received but she also displayed an uncanny knack for picking turkeys such as Shanghai Surprise. Her on- and off-screen romance with Warren Beatty around Dick Tracy masked an otherwise pedestrian performance.
Not content with being just a singer, she branched out into books. Her Erotica period was marked by the huge sales of her book Sex. The first run sold out almost before it had even hit the shelves and remained in the best-sellers list for some time. Prices for a brand-new unopened 1st edition can start at $200 on Amazon.com or Ebay.com. At one stage it was estimated to be making Madonna $3.5 million a day.
When she came to cut a new deal with her label she showed her tough business mind. Sire, part of Warner Bros, gave her terms which included her own record company, Maverick. Set up in 1992 it helped raise her fortune to an estimated £350m. It has also helped launch the careers of the likes of Alanis Morissette and Michelle Branch, and backed UK rave-nutters The Prodigy to enormous success in the USA.
Following a quiet patch in the mid-1990s Madonna returned with Ray Of Light, an album which once again raised her fortunes and later saw a lucrative tie-up with the second film in the Austin Powers franchise to maximise its returns.
In 2000 she married movie director Guy Ritchie and made the move from the States to London where she set about transforming herself into an English aristocrat. The couple's properties include a £7 million Mayfair home and a 1,200-acre Wiltshire estate where they can don tweed and go hunting and fishing. In 2004, Madonna embarked on The Re-Invention Tour, which featured fifty-six dates in the US, Canada, and Europe and became the highest-grossing tour of 2004, earning $125 million.
Her latest album, Confessions on a Dancefloor, marks something of a return to form, musically, for the superstar whose fortune is now rated at £248 million. Last summer Madonna signed with H&M to become the worldwide face of H&M and will have her own fashion line with H&M called M by Madonna in March this year. With fingers in many pies, including children's books, record labels and highly lucrative tours, Madonna looks set to remain top of the (country) pile when it comes to female stars.