Anthony Bourdain’s death in the summer of 2018 sent shock waves around the world. The pioneering chef was an icon to millions thanks to his numerous restaurants, books and travel shows, and he was loved by many. But the late star’s will largely benefited just one individual. Here’s a look at how Bourdain built his fortune – and who will now inherit it.
Born in New York City in 1956, Anthony Bourdain developed a passion for food while visiting France with his family. During his studies at Vassar College, then, he gained experience at various seafood restaurants during his studies before later honing his skills at the Culinary Institute of America. And after graduating, he went on to manage several New York restaurant kitchens – including One Fifth Avenue and The Supper Club.
Then, in 1998 Bourdain was appointed Brasserie Les Halles’ executive chef – a position he held for several years. But he had a flair for writing, too, as evidenced by his first book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, which was published in 2000 and went on to become a New York Times bestseller. Bourdain later published several other books, such as 2001’s A Cook Tour and 2006’s The Nasty Bits, as well as writing for numerous publications.
The chef also hit TV screens in 2002 when he was given his own Food Network show, A Cook’s Tour. Bourdain went on to host other culinary travelogues Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and The Layover. And in 2005 his first book was adapted into a sitcom, Kitchen Confidential, in which he was portrayed by none other than Bradley Cooper.
But that wasn’t all. Bourdain later hosted CNN show Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, executive produced and narrated PBS’ acclaimed The Mind of a Chef and served as a judge on cooking contest The Taste on ABC. He also played himself in the Oscar-nominated movie The Big Short. And in 2011 he even launched an imprint with Ecco Press named, appropriately, Anthony Bourdain Books.
Of course, Bourdain was just as renowned for his rebellious nature as for his culinary skills. The star was famously disdainful of celebrity chefs like Guy Fieri and Rachael Ray, and he was just as disapproving of the vegan lifestyle. No Reservations was also broadcast with viewer-discretion warnings prior to episodes due to the star’s fondness for using cuss words.
And Bourdain admitted to having been a heavy drug user during his rise to culinary fame. Heroin, cocaine and LSD were just some of his substances of choice while working at a SoHo eatery in the early 1980s, the star confessed in Kitchen Confidential. He had also been a heavy smoker but had given up the habit in 2007 following the birth of his daughter.
Sadly, Bourdain’s glittering career came to a tragic end in the French town of Kaysersberg in June 2018. The star was discovered in his hotel room, after travel companion Eric Ripert had become concerned about his friend’s absence and had raised the alarm. The 61-year-old, who was in the country working on an episode of Parts Unknown, had hanged himself.
The toxicology report determined, however, that Bourdain had had no trace of narcotics in his system at the time of his death. A local public prosecutor also stated that the star’s suicide seemed to have been an “impulsive act.” Then, following a cremation in France, Bourdain’s ashes were sent to his homeland.
And several high-profile figures paid tribute to the chef following the heartbreaking news. President Barack Obama, who had appeared on Parts Unknown, gave perhaps one of the most glowing testimonials, tweeting, “[Bourdain] taught us about food but, more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown.”
Bourdain had also been in a relationship with Asia Argento before he died, after first meeting the actress while filming Parts Unknown. He had previously been married to Nancy Putkoski, his teenage sweetheart, from 1985 until 2005. Then, two years later, he walked down the aisle with martial arts expert Ottavia Busia. The pair welcomed their first and only child together, Ariane, in 2007 before splitting nine years later.
And it was Ariane – just 11 years old at the time of Bourdain’s passing – who inherited most of the star’s fortune. In 2016 the chef made a will that stated his daughter should receive the bulk of his financial assets. However, due to Ariane’s age, a guardian was appointed by a U.S. court to secure her share of Bourdain’s estate.
Bourdain also set up a trust that will be supervised by Ariane’s mother. Ariane will first benefit from it on her 25th birthday and will be given another sum five years later. She’ll eventually be allowed full access to the remainder of the trust when she turns 35.
If Ariane had died before her father, however, Bourdain’s will stated that his money would have gone to her nanny, Myra Quizon. Bourdain also left his “accumulated frequent flyer miles” and many of his prized possessions to Busia. Although the pair had split the same year the will was made, their divorce was never finalized, meaning that Busia remained Bourdain’s official next of kin.
One omission from the will was the New York condo that Bourdain and his second wife had purchased in 2014. However, the legal document did nevertheless contain a reference to an unidentified residence with a $1 million mortgage liability. The star once told People, “I regret buying that apartment. The bank owns it, and then you’re stuck with it.”
And according to papers from the Surrogate’s Court in Manhattan, Bourdain’s estate was worth a little over $1.2 million. This was a sum much lower than the $16 million that had been previously been estimated. However, the man himself informed Wealthsimple in 2017 that “reports of [his] net worth are about ten times overstated.”
Bourdain’s estate included cash and savings worth $425,000, $250,000 in personal property and a brokerage account containing $35,000. There was also half a million dollars’ worth of “intangible property including royalties and residuals” – some of which may have been accrued from the star’s many books and TV shows.
But it’s perhaps no surprise that the late chef set aside so much for his daughter, as he had previously spoken affectionately about Ariane. “Children create themselves independently of us,” Bourdain told Popula in February 2017. “All you can do is show, like in my case, my daughter feels loved. She knows she’s loved. She has good self-esteem. Very important. And good martial arts skills. She knows she can take any boy in her age group. That’s all I can do as a father.”
And Bourdain had also opened up about how becoming a parent had changed him as a person. In Appetites: A Cookbook, he wrote, “Fatherhood has been an enormous relief, as I am now genetically, instinctually compelled to care more about someone other than myself. I like being a father. No, I love being a father. Everything about it.”
Then, just days after Bourdain’s death, Busia posted a photo of Ariane performing on stage and captioned it with a message to the late star. “Our little girl had her concert today,” Busia wrote. “She was amazing. So strong and brave. She wore the boots you bought her. I hope you are having a good trip, wherever you are.”