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Celebs Who Mint Millions From Beyond The Grave

For the third time in five years the world’s highest-earning celebrity isn’t even living. Here are the top moneymakers from beyond the grave

Published: Nov 16, 2013 06:53:04 AM IST
Updated: Nov 13, 2013 04:31:10 PM IST

Celebs Who Mint Millions From Beyond The Grave
Michael Jackson raked in $160 million over the past year, by our estimate. The most successful star who still breathes, Madonna, didn’t come close. She made $125 million, according to our Celebrity 100 list. How did the King of Pop do it? He’s making a mint from two Cirque du Soleil shows: Immortal, which has grossed more than $300 million since opening in 2011, and One, which brings him back from the dead with a hologram-like doppelgänger performing ‘Man in the Mirror’. He also profits from sales of his recordings and from his half of the Sony/ATV music catalogue, which owns the copyright to hits by superstars including the Beatles, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift. He reclaims the No. 1 spot from Elizabeth Taylor, who died in 2011. Her earnings plunged from $210 million a year ago, after a series of big auctions, to $25 million this year.

Note:   Earnings from October 2012 to October 2013, except Madonna’s earnings (from June 2012 to June 2013)

1. Michael jackson Musician

$160 million
Died: June 25, 2009 Age: 50
Can make $200,000 from a single Cirque performance.

2. Elvis presley Singer, actor

$55 million
Died: Aug 16, 1977 Age: 42
Graceland gets 600,000 visitors a year.

3. Charles m schulz Cartoonist
$37 million
Died: Feb 12, 2000 Age: 77
There’s still gold in Peanuts.

4. Elizabeth taylor Actress

$25 million
Died: Mar 23, 2011 Age: 79
White Diamonds fragrance earns millions.

5. Bob marley Musician

$18 million
Died: May 11, 1981 Age: 36
More than 75 million albums sold since death.

6. Marilyn monroe Actress
$15 million
Died: Aug 5, 1962 Age: 36
The new face of Chanel No. 5.

7. John lennon Musician
$12 million
Died: Dec 8, 1980 Age: 40
Thriving from both recording and songwriting.

8. Albert einstein Scientist
$10 million
Died: Apr 18, 1955 Age: 76
Montblanc’s Einstein pen sells for $3,000.

8. Bettie page Actress
$10 million
Died: Dec 11, 2008 Age: 85
The pin-up girl has a chain of boutiques.

10. Theodor geisel Author
$9 million
Died: Sept. 24, 1991 Age: 87
Dr Seuss’s 2012 The Lorax grossed $349 million.

10. Steve mcqueen Actor
$9 million
Died: Nov 7, 1980 Age: 50
Deals with Tag Heuer, Persol and Lucky Brand.

12. Bruce lee Martial artist, actor
$7 million
Died: July 20, 1973 Age: 32
A CGI Lee stars in a Johnnie Walker ad.

12. Jenni rivera Singer
$7 million
Died: Dec 9, 2012 Age: 43
She’s sold 880,000 records since her death.

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(This story appears in the 29 November, 2013 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • Bobmo

    Unless anybody big dies in the next few years Jackson will continue to dominate for years to come. Elvis is old news and his legacy had been mined to death already. Nobody else on the last can challenge Jackson.

    on Nov 18, 2013