Although born in India to a proud upper-middle-class family of printers, Somen “Steve” Banerjee always had this innate desire to be, do, and achieve something on a much, much grander scale. He thus relocated to the US around the 1960s with his eyes set on making a fortune, unaware that it would soon lead him to become a pioneer in women’s entertainment as well as a brutal criminal. After all, he did establish the Chippendales but also orchestrated several murder hits in his efforts for success. Now, let’s just find out more about his career trajectory and net worth, shall we?
How Did Somen “Steve” Banerjee Earn His Money?
Somen Banerjee AKA Steve reportedly started by working at Mattel toy company before moving on to operate a gas station for years and ensuring he extensively saved each month to launch his own endeavor one day. In 1975, he was actually able to do so (albeit with an equal partner) as he bought a failing Culver City, California rock club by the name of Round Robin and soon transformed it into Destiny II. Though this nightclub — like his previously failed backgammon place — was struggling at best as the months passed, driving him to introduce events such as disco dancing and female mud wrestling.
Unfortunately, none of Steve’s ideas panned in the long run, yet once he bought out his partner owing to management differences, a series of chance meetings gave rise to Chippendales in 1979. This was when he essentially became a pioneer as the joint had the nation’s first male-stripper showcase exclusively for the female audience — no outside men were allowed in during the dances. The entrepreneur even got involved with club promoter-pimp Paul Snider as well as director-choreographer Nick De Noia along the way to help Chippendales grow, only for tragedy to strike.
While Paul ended up killing his estranged wife, Playboy model and actress Dorothy Stratten in August 1980 before turning the gun to himself, Nick De Noia was found shot to death in his office in April 1987. By this point, there had already been a lot of contention between the latter and Steve, leading them to part ways, with the choreographer getting rights to the touring side of his corporation. Little did the founder realize that this would soon be the most lucrative, so he ordered hits on his former employees and set the offices/venues of his rivals on fire in his efforts to retain success.
It’s imperative to note the FBI apprehended Steve in 1993. A year after that, he pleaded guilty to attempted arson, racketeering, and murder for hire in exchange for 26 years behind bars. However, mere hours before he was to be sentenced on October 23, 1994, he hung himself in his detention cell rather than hear the court’s verdict and lose everything he’d worked hard to attain.
We should mention that until his ultimate arrest, Steve was undeniably gritty, determined, and ambitious; he often read business journals or studied the work of industry tycoons to hone his own skills. Moreover, according to the 2014 book ‘Deadly Dance: The Chippendales Murders‘ (the inspiration behind Hulu’s ‘Welcome to Chippendales’), he trusted no one at his establishment.
“Steve counted the receipts every night and kept track of every penny that came in the door,” the source text reads, in part. “[He] verbally assaulted waitresses who accidentally dropped drinks and often fired them on the spot. He blew up at bartenders who gave free drinks to pretty women.” That’s despite the fact he’d gradually begun making so much money he and fellow partner Bruce Nahin used to joke “there wasn’t enough dirt in the backyard to bury [it] all.”
Steve Banerjee’s Net Worth at the Time of His Death
According to Steve’s family, who actually gained his personal estates and Chippendales, along with all the money, properties, and assets associated with it following his demise, the entrepreneur had a rich life. In fact, he’d apparently kept aside a significant sum of money for them in Swiss banks to ensure their care, just for absolutely nothing to be there when they attempted to retrieve the same shortly after.
Talking about the same, Steve’s son, Christopher, once said, “The only person who would know [what happened to it] is my dad, and he’s dead.” Therefore, considering every aspect, we believe Somen “Steve” Banerjee’s net worth was around $3 million at the time of his death.