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Topic: How wealthy is Bond?

How wealthy is Bond?

The novels portray him as not being particular wealthy—perhaps slightly wealthier than the average middleclass clerical worker in the 1950s. In the novels he displays fine tastes in food, drink and cars, but not so much that these tastes cost him a fortune to appreciate. His drives a second hand Bentley for instance and isn’t particularly ostentatious.

In the films, however (especially the Brosnan and Craig ones), he comes across as very wealthy: wearing expensive “designer” suits and £8000 Omega watches. I was going to add that he also drives expensive sports cars, but those have been provided by Q. The same could be said of his watches—or at least those that are seen as having modifications made to them by Q.

Could he be wealthy on the salary of an MI6 officer? I somehow doubt it. Or perhaps he has inherited money. His country home in Scotland in SF suggests this.

So what is the truth of the matter?

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Re: How wealthy is Bond?

In the novels Bond makes £2,000 (after tax) per year in 1955, which is about £52,000 in 2019. He made a lot more than that playing cards though, he won £15,000 in Moonraker and we know that was not his first time gambling. He lived very plainly when not on assignment in the novels anyway, but did purchase a new Bentley from his winnings. He was also able to afford a live-in housekeeper.

Fast forward to the films and his flat in Chelsea seems to be worth over £1,000,000. 007 also bought a Yacht right after winning at the Casino Royale poker tournament, or brought it out of harbor. It appears he either had Yacht money already or kept some of the winnings as an homage to Moonraker. He also would have owned the Skyfall Lodge and not felt the need to sell it, and it may have been worth even more than his flat. It appears that his parents had money, and it was likely James had a trust fund that was paying for at least Kinkaid's salary. Since Bond was surprised he was still alive, Bond was obviously not paying for his services out of his discretionary Scotch funds. Could a secondary trust fund from Hannes Oberhauser paid for the suit Bond was wearing when he faced Blofeld? Haha, probably not but can you imagine?

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Re: How wealthy is Bond?

Interesting discussion! Something I’ve pondered on a few times when watching the films (I’m afraid I’m not as familiar with the IF books). Certainly compared to Bill Tanner, Bond looks to have a few extra pounds in the bank account! Or maybe Bill finds it’s always his turn to get a round in at the pub, and Bond’s expensive choices behind the bar have caught up with him! All those world class hotel stays whilst on duty will no doubt go on the expenses account, but I can’t imagine Sylvia Trench would accept a Premier Inn on a quick weekend away! Enjoyed reading this discussion!

‘Secret Agent?? On whose side?’

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Re: How wealthy is Bond?

Camp X Spy School wrote:

In the novels Bond makes £2,000 (after tax) per year in 1955, which is about £52,000 in 2019. He made a lot more than that playing cards though, he won £15,000 in Moonraker and we know that was not his first time gambling. He lived very plainly when not on assignment in the novels anyway, but did purchase a new Bentley from his winnings. He was also able to afford a live-in housekeeper.

Fast forward to the films and his flat in Chelsea seems to be worth over £1,000,000. 007 also bought a Yacht right after winning at the Casino Royale poker tournament, or brought it out of harbor. It appears he either had Yacht money already or kept some of the winnings as an homage to Moonraker. He also would have owned the Skyfall Lodge and not felt the need to sell it, and it may have been worth even more than his flat. It appears that his parents had money, and it was likely James had a trust fund that was paying for at least Kinkaid's salary. Since Bond was surprised he was still alive, Bond was obviously not paying for his services out of his discretionary Scotch funds. Could a secondary trust fund from Hannes Oberhauser paid for the suit Bond was wearing when he faced Blofeld? Haha, probably not but can you imagine?

I rather like the idea that CraigBond supplements his wages with a bit of professional poker playing, yeah.
Certainly the trust fund makes sense.

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Re: How wealthy is Bond?

Camp X Spy School wrote:

Since Bond was surprised he was still alive, Bond was obviously not paying for his services out of his discretionary Scotch funds.

Small point: those funds would be from where Bond buys his whisky (or possibly hard-boiled eggs wrapped in sausage meat, but there's no history of his liking those). Kincade would have been paid from Bond's Scottish funds.  ajb007/smile
We know he had capital (roughly £150k in the mid to late fifties adjusted for inflation) but other than his salary no information from Fleming as to his income from trusts, etc.

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Re: How wealthy is Bond?

It was mentioned in John Gardner's novel, " Role of Honour " Bond had received a substantial inheritance from an uncle who'd settled in Australia and had made a fortune from property deals.

One of the first things he spent some of it on was a Bentley Mulsanne Turbo which Q had added some " optional extras ", as they say ajb007/smile

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Re: How wealthy is Bond?

He also has that deal with Omega  ajb007/wink

“I didn’t lose a friend, I just realised I never had one.”

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Re: How wealthy is Bond?

As a younger man, Fleming was above-average in income though his means were limited, then he began to enjoy more funds than ever immediately before his death.  I think Bond enjoyed the same extraordinary luxuries and similarly within modest limits.  The continuation novels and movies sought to capitalize on the posh image established by Terence Young et al. and the means implied to support such a lavish lifestyle became too much of an extraneous Deus Ex Machina, IMO.

"...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....

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Re: How wealthy is Bond?

This topic has been covered in the past and I've posted on it, but for anyone new to this, I'll throw in my thruppence..

If one strictly uses Fleming's novels as an answer to this, one can get a rough guess of how wealthy he was.  Based on his income alone, he had a decent one for a civil servant, though it would hardly pay for some of his affluent tastes. His flat rental in Chelsea would have been steep even during Fleming's lifetime and even second hand Bentley's are expensive - especially if you're having them restored or modified. It's not like getting a second hand Morris Minor.  He only drinks high end spirits and wears tailored clothes - though the Service may have had a clothing ration for 00's to help offset the cost as the suits would have had to be tailored to help hide carrying concealed weapons.  He was a member of some golf clubs that have high membership fees and he gambled often.  Fleming had him being the best gambler in the Service so we can assume that he was good enough that he could have done it for a living - and many good professional gamblers make high incomes.  If he supplemented his service pay with that income and if one could couple that with the possibility that he had been left with a sizeable inheritance from his parents (his father was an arms rep and may have also inherited some type of trust from Bond's grandparent - for after all , he went to some really expensive schools), it would make sense that he could afford a fairly affluent lifestyle - even if Fleming didn't cover it in the novels.

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Re: How wealthy is Bond?

Fleming did mention how much capital Bond had (see post 5 above) in TB, but he didn't mention any details about his private income (only his salary).

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Re: How wealthy is Bond?

CmdrAtticus wrote:

This topic has been covered in the past and I've posted on it, but for anyone new to this, I'll throw in my thruppence..

If one strictly uses Fleming's novels as an answer to this, one can get a rough guess of how wealthy he was.  Based on his income alone, he had a decent one for a civil servant, though it would hardly pay for some of his affluent tastes. His flat rental in Chelsea would have been steep even during Fleming's lifetime and even second hand Bentley's are expensive - especially if you're having them restored or modified. It's not like getting a second hand Morris Minor.

As regards to having them modified that may be true, but back in those times there weren't really classic cars to the extent we have them now: old cars were just old and not really regarded as 'classic'. My uncle had a 30's Bentley coupe in the 60s when he was in his twenties, and although it would be worth at least £90,000 now if not (a lot) more, it didn't cost him much at all.

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Re: How wealthy is Bond?

When I looked up the cost of a new Mark VI it was about £4,000 brand new back then. Today that would be about £113,058.52.  A pre-owned one could be gotten for half that, but that would still be around £2000,  - £56,000 today.

"He earned £1500 a year, the salary of a Principal Officer in the Civil Service, and he had a thousand a year free of tax of his own. When he was on a job he could spend as much as he liked, so for the other months of the year he could live very well on his £2000 a year net."

That's a year's salary on a car.  However, if he had savings and some personal wealth as has been mentioned (which I still think makes sense as he attended Eton, then Fettes - which is the most expensive college in Scotland), then he most probably could have easily afforded a used Bentley.



emtiem wrote:
CmdrAtticus wrote:

This topic has been covered in the past and I've posted on it, but for anyone new to this, I'll throw in my thruppence..

If one strictly uses Fleming's novels as an answer to this, one can get a rough guess of how wealthy he was.  Based on his income alone, he had a decent one for a civil servant, though it would hardly pay for some of his affluent tastes. His flat rental in Chelsea would have been steep even during Fleming's lifetime and even second hand Bentley's are expensive - especially if you're having them restored or modified. It's not like getting a second hand Morris Minor.

As regards to having them modified that may be true, but back in those times there weren't really classic cars to the extent we have them now: old cars were just old and not really regarded as 'classic'. My uncle had a 30's Bentley coupe in the 60s when he was in his twenties, and although it would be worth at least £90,000 now if not (a lot) more, it didn't cost him much at all.

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Re: How wealthy is Bond?

I'm not sure using the novels as a base point for the film character works, as there seems to be a sharp distinction between the fellow on the page and the one on the screen, the latter seeming far richer than the former.

Bond onscreen not only knows and enjoys the finer things, he is steeped in them.  By the Moore era, Bond has his own bootmaker, and of course, Craig has a flat that would cost a princely sum, not to mention the manor house.

Of course, it's entirely possible to live well on comparatively meager means.  Buying second hand, relying on gifts (including from wealthy women), and living on the company dime would qualify a person to effectively double his or her income, at least in terms of material possessions.  A modest but well tailored suit can fool all but the discerning eye, for example, and there's no reason to believe that Bond doesn't have an expense account for such things, as they're part and parcel to his job.

It's interesting, too, that Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service so easily turns down Draco's money -- even after he falls for Tracy on his own.  That suggests he is comfortable enough to walk away from a million pounds in 1969!

Of course, the film Bond is much more a fantasy character than the one on the page.  Movies seldom give a reason or explanation for their characters to be able to afford the finer things in life on the likely salary the character makes.