Celebrities earn top dollar. Everyone knows that. But it takes REAL fame to earn big paydays after a celebrity is dead. Income sources like image rights, royalties and licensing fees don’t stop just because one has passed on. There’s still money to be made from beyond the grave. Forbes publishes an annual list of the top-earning dead celebrities.
Here’s a sample of the leaders for 2012:
- Elizabeth Taylor, $210 million. Most of the money this year came from an auction of her jewelry and other personal items. Her estate still makes money from her White Diamonds perfume and residuals from her movies.
- Michael Jackson, $145 million. Flashy in life, Jackson was a savvy businessman as well. His purchase of a 50% ownership in Sony’s ATV music catalog continues to bring his estate top dollar.
- Elvis Presley, $55 million. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll still has royalties coming to his estate and got a boost from Cirque de Soleil’s Viva Elvis show in Las Vegas.
- Charles Shulz, $37 million. The creator of the Peanuts comic strip is still a licensing marvel more than 10 years after his death. His characters earn more than $2 billion dollars at retail stores across the world each year.
- Bob Marley, $17 million. The reggae musician is the longest dead of the top five. His image and music continue to earn his estate quite a bit of money from licensing and businesses with his name.
You can see the entire Forbes list here.