Beginning in 2002, and intermittently since, Forbes magazine has compiled a list of the 15 most wealthy fictional characters. The candidates are taken from a variety of media, including books, television, and film. The makeup of the list changes from year to year as fortunes rise and fall, and one of the most intriguing new additions to the list in 2011 was Smaug. Smaug is a dragon, and fan’s of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic children’s fantasy novel The Hobbit will be familiar with him as one of the main antagonists in the story. Smaug is described at one point in the book as “unassessably wealthy”, with gold “beyond price and count”, claims that the authors of the Forbes fictional 15 list seem to have taken as a challenge. Forbes writer Michael Noer details his process for assigning a numerical value to Smaug’s fortune in this fun and informative article, which includes calculations of the volume of Smaug’s treasure mound and an enumeration of the diamonds encrusted in his underbelly.
Other notable literary characters appearing on last year’s list include Artemis Fowl (the eponymous protagonist of the Artemis Fowl series) and Carlisle Cullen (a character appearing in the Twilight series).
Want to see how the Forbes fictional 15 stack up against real world billionaires? This article breaks down the differences; to summarize, the real-world rich are considerably more wealthy than their fictional counterparts.