The Highest Earning Dead Celebrities: Every year it's interesting and slightly morbid to find out which dead celebrities are still earning big bucks from the grave. As the saying goes, "whoever dies with the most stuff wins." Actually, we've found that whoever dies with the most profitable, licensable intellectual property is the real winner. Most of these dearly departed celebrities left us with catalogs of music and writing that are keeping their grandkids in college, or allowing their grandkids to purchase colleges! So who are the richest/highest paid dead celebrities of 2012?
#1 Michael Jackson – $200 Million
It's hard to believe that it's been three years since Michael Jackson's death. It's even harder to believe that his estate was in debt to the tune of $500 million when the king of pop. And it's absolutely astonishing that three years later, Jackson's trustees have sold enough merchandise and music to be completely debt free. In the last year alone, Michael Jackson has made over $200 million which makes him the highest earning dead celebrity!
#2 Elvis Presley – $60 Million
In 2011, Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie sold the bulk of her father's estate to a billionaire investor. That included Graceland itself. Presley still makes a killing thanks to increasing demand for everything emblazoned with his name and face!
#3 Marilyn Monroe – $30 Million
Marilyn Monroe may have died 50 years ago this month but her estate is still earning big bucks off her image. In the last year Monroe made $30 million thanks to the everlasting popularity of her merchandise and image.
#4 Charles Schulz – $26 Million
Charles Schulz's estate sold the bulk of his Peanuts assets in 2011 but the family continues to make money off pre-existing licensing deals such as Met Life and Hallmark. Charles Schulz made $26 million in the last year.
#5 John Lennon – $15 Million
Thanks to the continued popularity of The Beatles and their entrance into the iTunes store, John Lennon's estate took in $15 million in the last year.
#6 Elizabeth Taylor – $13 Million
Elizabeth Taylor's estate made $13 million mainly off the stellar sales of her "White Diamonds" perfume which had revenues of over $50 million in the last year. Another little known fact about Taylor – When she died, she had a net worth of $600 million thanks to settlements from her many ex-husbands. She was married eight times to a billionaire, actors and businessmen who all left her with a stock portfolio that would make any hedge fund manager jealous!
#7 Albert Einstein – $12 Million
Albert Einstein's estate shrewdly licensed their famous ancestor's name to the hugely popular Baby Einstein multimedia company. Baby Einstein sells millions of dollars worth of DVDs, books, toys and other interactive products. Einstein's cut of the profits last year was $12 million.
#8 Dr Suess (Theodor Geisel) – $11 Million
Dr. Suess, aka Theodor Geisel, earned $11 Million thanks to book and movie ticket sales. 2012 saw the release of The Lorax which earned over $215 million at the box office! Oh the money you'll make!
#9 Jimi Hendrix – $10 Million
Thanks to the continued popularity of his music catalogue, Jimi Hendrix is the 9th highest earning dead celebrity with revenues of $10 million. Jimi Hendrix's music has been licensed to several national commercials and his estate released two re-mastered DVD box sets in the last year.
#10 Stieg Larsson – $9 Million
The 10th highest earning dead celebrity of the last year is Stieg Larsson with $9 million. Larsson is still earning millions thanks to strong sales of his Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books and sequels. The first book was also a big hit at the box office starring Daniel Craig.
And here are the Highest Earning Dead Celebrities for 2011:
On July 23, 2011 singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment at the age of 27. Another talented celebrity who died too soon. During her lifetime, Amy accumulated a net worth of $10 million. Like many other celebrities she may end up earning more money in death than in life. But who are the highest earning dead celebrities for the year 2011? Keep reading to find out:
10. Michael Crichton Net Worth – $9 million
Like many authors, Crichton had novels in the works at the time of his death. His book Pirate Latitudes is being published next month and his unfinished book is scheduled for publication next fall. Director Steven Spielberg has acquired the rights to film Crichton's posthumous novel.
9. Albert Einstein – $10 million
Albert Einstein's estate earned money by licensing the likeness of Einstein in unlikely places, such as in the movie Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian as a bobble-head, and in a McDonald's happy meal. Einstein's name continues to be used in Baby Einstein products. The Einstein estate has upcoming brain games in the works as well.
8. Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) – $15 million
Dr. Seuss continues to be the all-time best-selling children's author, selling books year after year. An animated version of The Lorax is being filmed for 2012 and PBS will debut a children's science learning series based on The Cat In The Hat.
7. John Lennon Net Worth – $15 million
John Lennon and the rest of The Beatles have done well this past year. The Beatles' music was remastered in a 16-disc box set on sale in September 2009. The Beatles: Rock Band was released, allowing fans to play along to the Fab Four's music. The Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil show continues to bring in earnings for the boys from Liverpool.
6. Charles Schulz – $35 million
The Peanuts comic creator continues to earn money through licensing deals and publication of the original comics. The TV catalog was purchased by Warner Brothers, which has resulted in new releases, including a DVD of all six of the original Peanuts television specials.
5. J.R.R. Tolkien – $50 million
The author of The Lord of the Rings franchise continues to gain new fans, especially after the Peter Jackson trilogy was filmed. Profits from the films help J.R.R. Tolkien estate bring in money. The next Tolkien film scheduled is The Hobbit, directed by Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson.
4. Elvis Presley Net Worth – $55 million
The King of Rock 'n' Roll has long earned money after his death, largely due to an immense portfolio of licensing and merchandise deals and Graceland admissions. The 75th anniversary of Graceland next year will generate more income, as well as an upcoming Elvis Presley Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas.
3. Michael Jackson Net Worth – $90 million
Michael Jackson posthumously earned millions from music video marathons, radio airplay, and album sales immediately following his death. The estate also gained earnings from a merchandising deal and the rights to his name & likeness in the Sony film This Is It. The future earnings of the music icon are high due to publishing rights to Jackson's catalog of music and a valuable stake in the Sony/ATV catalog.
2. Rodgers & Hammerstein – $235 million
Although musical composers Rodgers & Hammerstein died many years ago, their combined estates bring in a symphony of catalog licensing fees. This year their income went up through the reported $200 million acquisition of The Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization by Imagem Music Group, gaining ownership of musicals like South Pacific, Oklahoma! and The King and I.
1. Yves Saint Laurent – $350 million
Yves Saint Laurent is at the top of the list for the first time this year. The sale of Mondrians and Matisses art pieces from Saint Laurent's estate brought in a whopping $443 million, with the proceeds to be divided between two charitable foundations. So far, Saint Laurent's estate auction has reached nearly half a billion dollars since his death.