In August of 1989, Lyle and Erik Menéndez shot and killed both of their parents in their Beverly Hills mansion. It was a crime that blew up in the media, attracting an intense amount of attention in part because of the Menéndez family's wealth. The brothers were the height of privilege, rich boys who had seemingly had the best of everything, an ideal life; shortly after the murders, People referred to the entire situation as a "Beverly Hills paradise lost." The darkness underneath this perfect facade intrigued the public, and money ended up having a huge influence on the case itself. But how much money did they have? What was the Menéndez family's net worth?
In 1993, several years after the crime, the family's net worth was estimated to be around $8 million, with a gross of $14 million. The prosecution had accused the brothers of committing the crime out of greed, which they denied, citing self-defense after a lifetime of abuse as their explanation, though the claims were never able to be proven. Also, as far as Lyle and Erik knew, they had even been written out of their father's will (this was not the case). However, after the murder of their parents Jose and Kitty, the brothers received an insurance payout to the tune of $650,000 and spent money flagrantly on clothes, cars, and real estate.
The family's money came entirely from the father, Jose, who came to the United States from Cuba at the age of 16. He started his career at an accounting firm, moving on to work for such companies as Hertz and RCA before flourishing in the entertainment industry. He eventually became the CEO of LIVE Entertainment (now Artisan Entertainment), whose subsidiary Carolco Pictures was responsible for such releases as the Rambo series and, after Jose's death, films like Total Recall and Basic Instinct (and Showgirls!).
The Menéndez family net worth was calculated by Marta Menéndez Cano, Jose's sister, who was a financial planner. Later on she claimed the net worth was actually less than the $8-14 million figure she had initially put forth because the estate had not yet been probated. After the multiple trials and legal fees, as well as taxes, the estate decreased to $800,000 and even that number was eventually demolished by debt. Their remaining assets were two homes, one in Beverly Hills (which was sold) and one in Calabasas.
One article from the LA Times in 1994 noted the irony that, though money was often ascribed as the motive for the crime, even if the Menéndez brothers had been acquitted there wouldn't have been any money left for them to inherit. That's karma for you, I guess.