There are many ways to get rich in life, but most don’t involve causing endless hours of frustration for millions of people.
But that’s the route Erno Rubik took, and it’s worked out quite well for him. If you recognize the last name, it’s because Rubik is the inventor of the infamous Rubik’s Cube. The handy little 3D box puzzle in a box that also doubles as something of a spatial IQ test.
The lean, angular Hungarian inventor has certainly led an interesting life, so let’s trace his path and see if we can figure out how the cube happened and how it fits into his path.
Rubik was born in 1944 in Hungary, which wasn’t exactly a great start when it comes to accumulating wealth. Hungary was a communist country but Rubik showed academic promise early on that indicated he would have been special regardless of where he’d been born.
He studied at the Budapest University Technology and the Hungarian Academy of Applied Arts, and when he became a professor of architecture at the latter school he seemed destined to live a relatively quiet life as an academic.
Erno Rubik’s Net Worth
That quickly changed in 1974 when Rubik invented the cube that would bear his name. The invention stemmed from his fascination with space and how to use it in design, sculpture and movement. Rubik also saw the cube as a way to sharpen his thought process.
It took Rubik about a month to solve the puzzle of creating a cube that would hold together. He made the first version from wood and rubber bands, then showed it off to his students. They loved it, but mass producing a device like that was obviously impractical, and that’s where Ideal Toys entered the picture.
They transformed the clumsy initial versions into something bright, modern and, well, puzzling, and the results speak for themselves. Over 450 million Rubik’s Cubes have been sold worldwide, and as a result Erno Rubik has an estimated net worth of $100 million.
He quickly became the richest man in Hungary based on the monthly $30,000 royalty check he received for the toy, but for many years he had to share a portion of his wealth with the government in ways that went far beyond simple taxation.
Initially, Rubik seemed unfazed by this. He knew how rich he was, but claimed that he never checked his bank account.
Life After the Cube
Rubik’s early success gave him the wealth to do anything he wished with the rest of his life, but the inventor is clearly an academic at heart, and his life after inventing Rubik’s Cube bears that out.
Rubik started his own studio in 1983, and he spent his days there designing furniture and games. In 1990 he became the president of the Hungarian Engineering Academy, where he created the Rubik’s foundation to support talented young engineers and industrial designers.
Rubik is still much beloved among the legion of followers his unique game inspired, and he watched the best of the best take on his puzzle when he attended the World Championship in Budapest in 2007.
He’s spent the last decade or so designing an exhibition that showcased his talents in science, technology, and engineering, the exhibit traveled the globe to widespread acclaim.
Rubik has also recently written a book, which is entitled “Cubed,” naturally, in which he opens up about the details of his relationship with his invention.
Given his academic nature and his interest in all things scientific and mathematical, it’s hardly surprising that Rubik’s personal life has been on the quiet side.
He’s been married to Agnes Hegely for over five decades now, and the couple has had four kids, two sons and two daughters. Rubik is a devoted book lover whose interests run toward sci-fi, of course, and he’s also an avid gardener who cites collecting succulents as his favorite pastime.