Madonna Breaks Her Own Solo-Tour Record With Sticky & Sweet

Year-long tour is second only to Rolling Stones' Bigger Bang outing.

The numbers are huge: 3.5 million fans, 85 shows, $408 million. [artist id="1098"]Madonna[/artist] has set so many records during her 20-plus-year career that the only thing left for her Sticky & Sweet tour was to smash some more.

After some critics questioned the decision by Live Nation to pay the Material Mom $120 million for the rights to her touring and recording, those naysayers are likely taking it back today. Live Nation announced on Wednesday that with the two-night finale in Tel Aviv, Israel, this week, Sticky & Sweet officially becomes the most successful tour ever by a solo artist.

Despite the tragic accident in Marseille, France — where two workers were killed while building the set for her concert — and brief controversies in Poland and Romania, the year-long tour raked in more than $408 million, breaking a record set by Madonna's 2006 Confessions tour, which grossed $194 million and played to 1.2 million fans. One reason was that while the previous tour played mostly in arenas, Sticky & Sweet hit a number of stadiums, setting attendance records for the biggest crowds in history in Zurich, Switzerland, where Madonna drew 72,000. In Gothenburg, Sweden, the 119,000 attendees broke a record for the highest-grossing multiple shows in the country's history, and the 85,000 tickets sold for her Helsinki, Finland, gig was the biggest-selling single show by an artist in Scandinavian history.

While Madonna broke several records, Sticky & Sweet still fell a bit short of beating the biggest-selling tour of all time, the Rolling Stones' 2005-2007 Bigger Bang outing, which hauled in a massive $558 million while playing to 4.7 million people.

Next up for Madonna is the September 29 release of her greatest-hits compilation Celebration, which will mark the end of her 27-year stint with the Warner Music Group before she moves on to recording for Live Nation.