Have you ever heard that line “they are worth more dead than alive”? Well in the case of celebrities, that point may be debatable but one thing is for certain. Even from beyond the grave, some celebrities still have unbelievable earning power. Whether it be through the work of a manager or firm that handles the estate or the images, inventions, or other things that made up the celebrities persona, some famous folks will live on forever, much to the delight of their extended families, estates, or charities they had set up to benefit from them. So without further fanfare, let us take a look at the top ten earners from the crypt!
1. Yves Saint Laurent – Fashion designer – $350 million – Now certainly you never guessed that the famous designer would be bringing in such a whopping total year after year from the grave. Well that analysis would be correct. Laurent in on the list this year due to auctions of his famed private art collection which netted the estate over half a billion dollars when all was done. The money goes to two charitable foundations. There are more auctions to come, which might put him back on next year’s list, but that should be the end for him after that in terms of making this list.
2. Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II – Broadway musicals – $235 million – The famed musical producers also made the list like the above fashion designer because of a sale if you will. As like a phoenix. They arose from the dead when Imagem Music Group paid an estimated $200 million in 2009 to acquire The Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization and the rights to the duo’s creations. Though the duo still makes money also from performances, residuals and other things, they would not be on the list if the big sale had not taken place. Do not look for a return trip this coming year though.
3. Michael Jackson – Singer, Songwriter, Performer – $90 million – This may have been the guy you would have bet would make this year’s list if you were a betting person. With this death, one might have assumed he would rise to the top. The estate has done a superb job of marketing anything they could of the singer, and the “This is it” movie coming out also helped to earn the singer a few more dollars. Much like Elvis, you can probably figure on Jackson being on this list for sometime to come.
4. Elvis Presley – King of Rock ‘n’ Roll – $55 million – You can always thank the folks that run Elvis Presley Enterprises for him continually grace the best of the dead list. Probably nowhere else has there been a better group put together to market a passed away star. In fact, Elvis Presley’s earnings for the past year alone were more than he had in his bank account at the time of his death. He has historically topped this list since it was created and you can probably expect the King to return to his throne on the 2011 list.
5. J.R.R. Tolkien – Author – $50 million – When does the creator of little hobbits and other trolls become a happy man? When he is dead and rolling in the dough. Tolkien is simply rolling in the dough from his books as well as the movies created from them. When The Hobbit eventually makes it out into the theatres, you can be sure that their creator will be smiling somewhere from the beyond.
6. Charles Schulz – Peanuts cartoonist – $35 million – He created perhaps the greatest comic strip of all time, and turned it into one of the great enterprises that has arisen from one. No one will ever call “Mr Charlie Brown” a blockhead for the business decisions he made and thus Linus, Charlie Brown, and Snoopy live on and keep bringing in money to the Schulz estate for the foreseeable future.
7. John Lennon – Singer – Songwriter – The Beatles – $15 million – The Beatle that was more important than Jesus as he once said obviously is still making more money them him in death. His tragic ending only helped to maximize his profits in death and his estate is much the better for it.
8. Dr. Seuss – Children’s author – $15 million – Never has a cat in the hat become so fat. Yes the writer of the best-known line of children’s books continues to rake in the millions in his death. Whether it be from his books, images of his characters, souvenirs of his creations, or royalties from movies, Dr Seuss will continue to earn for many moons, whether it be for the red fish or the blue fish!
9. Albert Einstein – Physicist – $10 million – The man who helped to change the way we think about the world is still changing things today. His estate has been as brilliant about exploiting his image as he was with his theories. They have gotten money for everything from McDonald’s bobble head dolls from the Night at the Museum movie to the Baby Einstein line of infant toys and tools. Even those Einstein games are putting coin in the pockets of the estate.
10. Michael Crichton – Author, TV show creator – $9 million – Every time that you flick on that TV and see a rerun of ER or any number of other shows this brilliant guy created, think of that mini cash register ringing up in the sky. That would be Crichton’s estate account growing ever larger by the minute. Those reruns and movies he created will live on in TV and DVD for years to come.
Well there you have it folks. Who said you can’t be green in death? These celebrities will tell you its not so and will be laughing all the way to that big bank in the sky!