Calculating the net worth of a dragon

The math is above my head, but the numbers check out: Smaug, from The Hobbit, would be worth $8.6 billion--if he were alive. Welcome to the Forbes Fictional 15, a list of the top fake billionaires.

I'd pity the tax man. Wikimedia Commons

Ever wonder how much Darth Vader might be worth? Or maybe Voldemort? I haven't, but when it's time to compile Forbes' annual Forbes Fictional 15, a list of the net worth of the wealthiest characters in fiction, it comes up.

This year, Smaug, the dragon made famous in Tolkien's "The Hobbit" who will likely be featured in the currently-in-production movie by MGM and New Line Cinema, makes the list at No. 7 with $8.6 billion--right between superhero billionaires Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark.

It's not an easy number to come up with, but Forbes writer Michael Noer does a handy job of doing just that--and he even shows his work.

He's put together a workable equation that starts by calculating the amount of precious metals in the dragon's bed of treasure by using information Tolkien included in the book (using Bilbo's height as compared with the pile); generally held "facts" about dragon treasure from sources like Dungeons & Dragons; and the real-world values of gold and silver coins.

The mound--675.6 cubic feet, if you must know--is then combined with the best-guess size of Smaug's diamond-encrusted underbelly (again, calculated with help from D&D sourcebooks at 684.6 spare feet) and the probable worth of other treasures (like the Arkenstone of Thrain) to get the final estimate.

As an expert on Tolkien and dragons (remember my D&D-inspired tattoo last summer ? Yeah, I'm a Dungeon Master) and someone who's fairly decent with math, I can't find a hole in Noer's logic. While the $8.6 billion figure might not be exact, it's damn close enough, and I can't imagine anyone coming up with a more accurate figure.

If you can, you're more than welcome to give it a shot in the comments below. Just remember that, like Noer, you'll need to show your work.

About the author

    With more than 15 years experience testing hardware (and being obsessed with it), Crave freelance writer Matt Hickey can tell the good gadgets from the great. He also has a keen eye for future technology trends. Matt has blogged for publications including TechCrunch, CrunchGear, and most recently, Gizmodo. Matt is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CBS Interactive. E-mail Matt.


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