Recession takes a 14pc bite out of U2's (EU)548m fortune

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Fergus Black, Independent

Ireland's greatest export U2 have seen their wealth drop by 14pc as the recession bites.

And the fortune of "super hoofer" Michael Flatley has plunged by more than a third, according to the latest millionaires rich list.

But there was better news for singer Enya, golfer Padraig Harrington and footballers Damien Duff and Robbie Keane who also feature among the top millionaires.

Described as the definitive guide to the fortunes of the 250 richest people in Ireland and the 1,000 richest in Britain, the Sunday Times Rich List, will be published this weekend.

The list charts the dramatic falls and some surprising rises in the value of the assets in both countries' wealthiest individuals, but a sneak preview gives some indication of the rise and fall in some of the fortunes of well-known stars.

Despite re-igniting his career co-hosting Superstars of Dance on American TV, Michael Flatley has seen his fortune drop by 34pc in a year.

This year Flatley is ranked 27th in Ireland's richest 250. According to the rich list, his wealth is down from (EU)413m in 2008 to (EU)273m because of the fall in value of his property and investments.

Also seeing a drop in its wealth is the band U2. Its career earnings and the residual value of its back catalogue fell by 14pc to (EU)470m from (EU)548m in 2008, mainly because of the global slump in asset values. The band is currently ranked 12th in Ireland on the list.

However, there was happier news for singer Enya. The success of her latest album, And Winter Came has seen the Donegal singer rise up the Rich List to become one of the 100 richest people in Ireland.

Ranked this year at 85, Enya is now worth (EU)93m, up 5pc on 2008 when her fortune was worth (EU)89m and she was ranked 122. Her career album sales total (EU)72m.

Also making the U.K. top 50 list of music millionaires is Van "The Man" Morrison. While his personal wealth fell 9pc to (EU)56m, the Belfast-born Grammy award winner jumped five places on the Rich List to 39th.

One of the few music millionaires to see a rise in his fortune was X Factor judge Simon Cowell.

Ranked 15th among the top 50 music millionaires his personal fortune rose by 7pc to (EU)133m this year, up (EU)9m on his 2008 earnings.

Former Formula 1 (F1) racing driver Eddie Irvine remains the richest sportsman in Ireland despite the fact that his fortune has dropped by a third.


Although he retired from F1 in 2003, the Northern Ireland sportstar invested his earnings in property and is currently worth (EU)89m -- down from (EU)133m in 2008.

His fortune ranks him 88th on the overall rich list but third behind boxer Lennox Lewis and footballer and fashion star David Beckham in the sports millionaires' league. Three-time major winner, Padraig Harrington also makes the Rich List "cut." The 37-year-old golfer, who in 2007 became the first Irishman to win the British Open in 60 years, joins Ireland's richest 250 this year with a fortune of (EU)33m -- ranking him at 239.

Footballers Damien Duff and Robbie Keane also make the U.K.'s top 20 young rich list sports millionaires for those aged 30 and under which lists racing driver Jenson Button in pole position with a personal fortune of (EU)44m.

While his team struggles at the foot of the Premiership, Newcastle star Damien Duff is ranked 11th on the list with a fortune of (EU)16m -- unchanged from the previous year.

His Ireland colleague and Tottenham striker Robbie Keane shares 17th place with five other sportstars with his wealth quoted at (
EU)12m -- up (EU)2m on the previous year.

© 2009 Independent.

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