In the past 12 months, Elizabeth Taylor, despite the obvious handicap of no longer being alive, earned more money than Oprah Winfrey. She brought in $210 million from beyond the grave, making her our highest-earning dead celebrity. Here’s how she did it.
CHRISTIE’S AUCTION: Taylor owned a treasure trove of jewellery, costumes and fine art. Rather than have her heirs fight over it, she decided to sell everything after her death; proceeds went to friends, family and her AIDS charity. The two-day auction grossed $184 million. The pricier highlights: Van Gogh’s 1889 painting of the chapel at Saint-Rémy ($16 million); pearl, diamond and ruby necklace by Cartier ($11.8 million).
PERFUME: Taylor’s White Diamonds is one of the bestselling perfumes in the US. In 2011, it generated $75 million in retail sales.
MOVIES: After Cleopatra in 1963, Taylor negotiated a 10 percent ownership stake in each of her subsequent movies. She also collected royalties from Around the World in 80 Days, which was produced by her late husband Michael Todd.