Few celebrities prove the point that there is (financial) life after death better than Michael Jackson. The King of Pop tops our list yet again with $140 million in earnings. This year, the singer had his second posthumous album release with Xscape, which debuted at No. 2 on the charts. He also appeared (in hologram form) on stage at the Billboard Music Awards. The hologram performance left some fans thrilled and others a bit freaked out, but expect to see more of the same from other dead celebrities as the technology advances to the point where we won’t be able to tell the difference.
To compile our list we talk to estate managers, agents, music publishers and other in-the-know folks to come up with estimates of what each estate brought in between October 2013 and October 2014. We don’t deduct for taxes or things like management fees.
Ranking second behind Jackson is Elvis Presley with an estimated $55 million in earnings over the 12-month period. Authentic Brands Group bought the rights to Elvis last year for a reported $125 million. Presley’s estate still rakes in millions thanks to the throngs of tourists who visit Graceland each year and Elvis’ extensive music library. But ABG plans to boost earnings with (you guessed it) a hologram Elvis. ABG CEO Jamie Salter told Ad Week that hologram Elvis will be up and running in the spring and that he might return to Las Vegas or even perform with hologram Michael Jackson.
Cartoonist Charles Schulz ranks third with $40 million. Schulz’s Peanuts characters have never really gone away thanks to online versions of the comic strip, successful merchandising and the ubiquitous MetLife MET +0.54% ads featuring Snoopy and the gang. But now the Peanuts are being introduced to a whole new generation with an upcoming 3-D movie from Fox studios. The movie is slated to be in theaters in November 2015. If it’s a hit, expect Shulz’s earning to climb the following year.
Elizabeth Taylor ranks fourth with $25 million in earnings. Thanks to her best-selling perfume and her old movies, Taylor still rakes it in. But as the last embodiment of old Hollywood glamour, everyone believes there’s a lot more that can be done with her brand. Expect more Elizabeth Taylor merchandise to roll out in the coming years.
Rounding out the top five is reggae singer Bob Marley with an estimated $20 million in earnings. The singer’s mellow mug can be seen on everything from messenger bags to T-shirts to a line of fruit-flavored drinks. The Marley beverage company’s motto: Live Relaxed.
source: forbes.com by Dorothy Pomerantz