Talk about a slap in the face for me. Every day I struggle through my work to make sure I can make a decent living for myself and pay the bills! These celebrities have passed away, some years ago, and still are making way more than I ever will. I need to find a way to get famous. Anyway, this is a list of the Highest Earning Dead Celebrities of 2012.
1 – Elizabeth Taylor – $210 million
Elizabeth Taylor was an icon and she passed away in March 2011 at the age of 79. She may have died, but a year after her death she is still rolling in the money. Christie’s Auction House had a sale and sold all her jewelry and fine art. The auctions were held in New York and London and took in $184 million!
2 – Michael Jackson – $145 million
The King of Pop passed away in June 2009, but still made $145 million this past year. To make this even crazier, Michael has earned more in his death than any single living artist during the same time! He is still making money off the Cirque du Soleil show, his 50% stake in the Sony/ATV publishing catalog and his own Mijac Music catalog.
3 – Elvis Presley – $55 million
The King of Rock n’ Roll passed away in August 1977 and 35 years later he still made $55 million! How is that even possible? His estate made money off the Viva Elvis in Vegas and Graceland, which had an increase in attendance this past year due to warmer weather.
4 – Charles Schulz – $37 million
Charles Schulz brought us all the Peanuts comic strip and 12 years after his death he still made $37 million. Charlie Brown and Snoopy were created 67 years ago, but they are still going strong and Fox recently announced that a Peanuts movie will be hitting the big screens soon.
5 – Bob Marley – $17 million
Bob Marley left the world too soon when he passed away at the age of 36 in 1981 after battling cancer. Not only has he sold 75 million records in the past 20 years, but his estate has also created the Marley Beverage company and House of Marley, a producer of eco-friendly audio and lifestyle products. 31 years later and still making $17 million.
6 – John Lennon – $12 million
John Lennon was murdered back in December 1980, but he is still making $12 million a year thanks to his Beatles status. The Beatles albums have sold over 63 million copies in the U.S. since 1992! Add in a Cirque du Soleil show and licensing agreements with Cisco and other artists and you have the workings of a very rich estate.
7 – Marilyn Monroe – $10 million
The blonde bombshell died of an overdose in August of 1962 and 50 years later is still making $10 million! Marilyn was and still is an icon and her brand is attractive to many companies. Authentic Brands Group bought the rights to license Monroe and have since made $27 million, but Forbes only looks at licensing money, so that is why she is at $10 million.
8 – Albert Einstein – $10 million
Albert Einstein, yes the scientist Albert Einstein, passed away in 1955 and still made $10 million last year! His estate sells his image to companies, but they don’t allow just anyone to use it. Since he was a scientist, they have it related to companies focused on learning and smart things.
9 – Theodor Geisel – $9 million
No matter how far in the future we get, I think kids will always be reading Cat In The Hat. That is all thanks to Theodor Geisel, who passed away in 1991. He took in $9 million last year and a new movie version of Cat In The Hat is in the works.
10 – Steve McQueen – $8 million
Steve McQueen was a famous actor that represented the man’s man. He seeped of masculinity and even 30 years later they are still using that ruggedness. He made $8 million this past year with things like a motorcycle line and as an ambassador for Tag Heuer.
11 – Bettie Page – $8 million
Bettie Page was known as the “Queen of the Pinups” and even appeared in Playboy. Her pinups were popular in the 1950’s, but she has regained her popularity and made this list for the first time last year. She passed away in 2008, but her clothing stores are now surging and she made $8 million last year.
12 – Richard Rodgers – $6 million
Richard Rodgers was a successful song writer who passed away in 1979. Even though the Rodgers and Hammerstein (one of his writing partners) body of work was sold in 2009 for $200 million, Rodgers is still making money from the grave on solo works and collaborations he had done with Lorenz Hart. Songs like “Blue Moon” and “This Can’t Be Love” brought him $6 million!
13 – George Harrison – $5.5 million
George Harrison was the youngest of the Beatles and one of the lesser known, but he is still raking in the money of the groups success. He took in part of those 63 million albums sold and he owns rights to certain songs that he wrote, like “Here Comes The Sun.” The Cirque du Soleil show and licensing rights added up to $5.5 million for George.
To sum this all up, make a name for yourself while living and your family could be cashing in on that success for many years to come. While some of these stars made more money after death, it is a lot more fun to enjoy it while alive and kicking. One last thing…I am super jealous of these families. Why couldn’t I be related to one of them?