Rudolf Nureyev is a deceased Soviet Union male ballet dancer. Considered one of the best — if not the single best — male ballet dancer of his generation, Nureyev has danced with The Royal Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet.

Nureyev passed away at 54 due to a complication with AIDS. His legacy, however, endures to this day, as a symbol of perseverance, passion, and generosity.

In this article, we look at the life and legacy of Rudolf Nureyev, including his net worth at the time of his death.

What was Rudolf Nureyev Worth at the Time of His Death?

At the time of his death, Rudolf Nureyev was reportedly worth $4.9 million.

The prima donna ballet dancer started his career by training at the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet in Leningrad (now, St. Petersburg, Russia), in 1955.

He graduated from the academy in 1958 and promptly joined the Kirov Ballet. He bypassed the corps level and from the outset served as the principal dancer.

His praises were sung throughout the nation and he quickly became the premier male ballet dancer in all of the Soviet Union.

Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn performing
Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn performing
Source: The Guardian

Despite his stature, it was creative and expressive freedom he craved. Knowing he was not gonna get that in the Soviet Union, Nureyev defected to Paris when the Kirov Ballet toured Europe.

His asylum granted, Nureyev joined the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas.

He was also the principal dancer for The Royal Ballet until 1970 and made many international tours including touring the United States and Canada.

In 1982, Rudolf became a naturalized citizen of Austria and shortly thereafter, was named the director of the Paris Opera Ballet.

Despite his AIDS-related health problems, Nureyev continued to make appearances, however dwindling, until he was physically unable.

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Rudolf Nureyev: Early Life and Childhood

Rudolf Nureyev was born Rudolf Hametovich Nureyev on March 17, 1938. His mother, Farida Nureyev, went into labor when she was aboard a Trans-Siberian train near Irkutsk, Siberia, on its way to Vladivostok, where Rudolf’s father, Khamet Nureyev, a Red Army political commissar, was stationed.

Rudolf was the youngest and the only son of three born to his parents.

Nureyev realized his passion for ballet upon his viewing of the ballet Song of the Cranes, with his family. He trained locally, but when his mentors realized his preternatural talent, they implored him to train at St. Petersburg (then, Leningrad).

He was accepted into the Bolshoi ballet company but ultimately chose to study at Mariinsky Ballet’s associate school, the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet.

During that time, he formed a bond with the ballet master and stayed with him and his wife.

Rudolf Nureyev: Personal Life, Relationships, and Death

Depending on the source, Nureyev was either classified as bisexual or homosexual. He had relationships with women when he was younger, but that can be attributed to the taboo put on homosexual relationships at the time.

Nureyev was a closeted gay most of his life, which many believe might have led to his volatile and introverted nature.

Nonetheless, he was involved in a relationship with the Danish dancer, Erik Bruhn. They had a turbulent 25-year on-again-off-again relationship that lasted until the day Bruhn died in 1986.

Rudolf Nureyev 
Rudolf Nureyev
Source: Business Times

His other publicized relationship happened with the American dancer, Robert Tracy. Their two-and-a-half-year relationship turned to a live-in open relationship that lasted for 14 years.

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Notorious for his philandering ways, Nureyev was known to frequent bathhouses and the occasional one-night stands. The lifestyle caught up to him and he contracted HIV — a fact he would only come to know in 1984.

He kept it a secret and attributing his declining health, Nureyev slowly pulled out of the spotlight. He was admitted to a hospital in France for pericarditis — a heart condition exacerbated by his HIV.

He succumbed to the condition and was pronounced dead on January 6, 1993. His funeral was held in at the Paris Garnier Opera House and he was laid to rest at a Russian cemetery in Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois near Paris.