Smaug is the Richest LotR Character (Still Nowhere Near Elon Musk, Though)

Smaug is the Richest LotR Character (Still Nowhere Near Elon Musk, Though)
Image credit: Legion-Media, globallookpress

Of all the creatures inhabiting Middle-earth, no one embodies avarice better than dragons.

These great reptiles are driven by an insatiable love of treasure, even though it serves no practical purpose for them. And there was one prominent dragon in The Third Age who managed to hoard the most wealth — Smaug the Magnificent.

So how much treasure did Smaug have exactly? That was the question plaguing some of the more detail-oriented fans for a while, but even with the help of The Hobbit movies (and the Rankin/Bass cartoon before that), they could only come up with rough estimates of his gold and silver holdings.

In 2011, Forbes published a whole article dedicated to Smaug, evaluating the dragon's hoard using real-world values.

Although this was just a semi-humorous publication created as part of the Forbes Fictional 15 series, the article's authors did a thorough analysis and concluded that Smaug's total wealth amounted to $8.6 billion, putting him in the seventh place of the Fictional 15 list.

Unfortunately, the Forbes analysis had a few flaws. For one, it evaluated Smaug's treasure using the modern prices for gold and silver by weight, even though his hoard consisted of finely crafted items that would cost more than simple pieces of precious metals.

Smaug is the Richest LotR Character (Still Nowhere Near Elon Musk, Though) - image 1

Another major problem with the proposed wealth estimate was a result of the authors' inaccurate idea about Smaug's body size. As you may remember, the dragon's underbelly was encrusted with diamonds because he had been sleeping on his hoard for so long — and to find out how much these diamonds are worth, the authors needed to establish the length of the beast's body.

For some reason, they chose to calculate Smaug's body length using the dragon size data from the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons' site The Hypertext d20 SRD. As a result, all the calculations in the article were based on the assumption that the dragon is only around 64 feet long from snout to tail tip.

However, we know that D&D dragons are normally much smaller compared to just about any version of Smaug that's found either on the big screen or in illustrations. Peter Jackson's Smaug is 427 feet long — and even though the cinematic version may not be considered canonical, this length seems to be more in line with the book's descriptions.

Even if Smaug's wealth is a few times greater than $8.6 billion, as (erroneously) calculated by Forbes, the dragon can hardly compete with the real world's 10 richest billionaires, all of whom have fortunes above $80 billion. So here's a lesson to learn, kids: you can be huge, dangerous, and lying on a bed of gold — but you can't beat Elon Musk's net worth!