We have been loosely following the Kevin Costner-Christine Baumgartner Costner divorce drama since it broke out a couple months ago. Costner and Baumgartner are now in court about it, a judge ruled yesterday that Baumgartner has to vacate their Carpinteria, California home by the end of the month. Costner has been angling for this ever since Christine filed for divorce, and I suppose it came down to the fact that Costner owns the property (and one next door) outright. He and Christine have a reportedly very tough prenup, and while I think parts of it will likely be ignored/overruled given how long they’ve been married (eighteen years) and the three kids they share, the property stuff is pretty cut and dry.
Anyway, that’s not what I want to talk about. What I want to talk about is MONEY. I always caution people about over-relying on internet “celebrity net worth” websites, because they’re all bullsh-t (I know of an actor dependably listed as being worth $20 million, when he has a nine-digit net worth, thanks to passive income like investments). There’s no way to know how much money a celebrity actually has unless you are their accountant, or their divorce attorney. I actually said to another writer recently: we really don't know what a person’s finances are unless they get aired out in like, divorce court. Well guess where Kevin Costner is right now? Divorce court!
Which means we are learning about his money. And also Yellowstone, which is the chief source of Costner’s income right now (at least in terms of new income generation. Who knows what kind of investments he’s got). The writers’ strike has stalled production of the final five episodes of Yellowstone’s fifth season, which have not yet been written as self-involved creator Taylor Sheridan is, indeed, on strike. Previously, it was assumed at some point those final episodes would be produced, wrapping up Costner’s time as the Dutton family patriarch.
Now, however, Costner revealed in court documents that he is “no longer under contract” for Yellowstone and says he will “earn substantially less in 2023 than [he] did in 2022” (Costner is paid $1.3 million per episode). He also says he has received no “participation compensation”—this would be royalties and residuals, a hot-button topic in strike negotiations for both the writers and actors—for Yellowstone so far in 2023, which he has “disputed” (not uncommon, people frequently have to sue for their share). Costner also claims that 2023 will be a “difficult year financially”.
Costner’s Carpinteria home is worth an estimated $145 million. In 2017 he attempted to sell one of his California properties for $60 million (it doesn’t appear it ever sold, and I think this is the property he remodeled into an editing/producing complex). His neighbor listed a home for $109 million last year. You can rent Costner’s Aspen, Colorado ranch for $350,000 per week. I would LOVE for Kevin Costner to explain what he thinks a “difficult year financially” looks like.
People have questions about Costner and Yellowstone and whether or not he’ll even be in those final episodes, since his contract apparently lapsed, but all my questions are about his money. I really want to know what qualifies as financial difficulty in his world, and what he’s been doing with all that Yellowstone cash.
He mortgaged his Carpinteria home to fund his new film project, Horizon, but beyond that, what’s he got going on? Are you trying to tell me Kevin Costner doesn’t have an investment portfolio? These people are all about passive income. I’m sure Costner will work out a deal to finish Yellowstone someday—probably for even more money, if his contract really has lapsed—but I am far more fascinated by what else we might learn about his money through his divorce. It’s practically the only time we get hard data on rich people’s wallets.
Here is Christine Baumgartner at the courthouse yesterday.