Highest-Earning Dead Celebrities

For some celebrities, money keeps rolling in even they are dead. Their posthumous earnings come from music royalties, book sales, and licensing deals.


The King of Pop Michael Jackson passed away on June 25, 2009. However, he made more money over the past year than any living singers, helping him earning the No.1 spot on the 10th annual ranking of the Top-Earning Dead Celebrities. His $ 275 million was greater than the earnings of U2 and AC/DC combined. His posthumous earnings have been bolstered partly by a merchandising deal and the rights to his name and likeness for the Sony film “This Is It” and the lucrative Sony/ATV catalog. In March 2010, Sony singed a US$ 250 million contract with the singer’s estate to retain distribution rights to his recordings until 2017.


$ 275 million

Died: June 25, 2009

Age: 50


After J.R.R. Tolkien’s death, his son Christopher published a series of works based on his father’s notes and unpublished manuscripts. In addition, a two-movie adaptation of his book “The Hobbit” is now in reproduction in New Zealand.


$ 50 million

Died: Sept. 2, 1973

Age: 81


Elvis Presley, the Kind of Rock ‘n’ Roll, took the No.2 spot on the 10th annual ranking of the Top-Earning Dead Celebrities. His whopping $ 60 million has been bolstered by Graceland admissions and the Elvis Presley Cirque du Soleil spectacular launched in Las Vegas at the beginning of 2010 in addition to over 200 licensing and merchandise deals and commemorative events like touring tribute concerts, Graceland exhibits, and an Elvis-themed cruise to the Bahamas.


$ 60 million

Died: Aug. 16, 1977

Age: 42


The cartoonist Charles Schulz’s comic strip Peanuts is still widely reprinted on a daily basis, with appearance in 2,200 newspapers across 75 countries. The Peanuts brand changed ownership this year. Iconix bought the cartoon and its characters for $ 175 million.


$ 33 million

Died: Feb 12, 2000

Age: 77


Swedish writer Stieg Larsson, best known for writing the Millennium Trilogy of crime novels, died before “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” was published. He did not have chance to see the incredible success of his three books. The Millennium Trilogy’s 40 million copies have been sold in 44 languages. Sony’s movie adaptation of his books is currently in production. In 2008, Larsson was the second best-selling author in the world.


$ 15 million

Died: Nov. 9, 2004

Age: 50


John Lennon, one of the founding members of The Beatles, was murdered in New York City in December 1980. On his 70th year, EMI has launched the “Gimme Some Truth” campaign, re-leasing much of Lennon’s catalog.


$ 17 million

Died: Dec. 8, 1980

Age: 40



Related links:

Hollywood Stars Died of Drug Overdoses

Stars died before 30

Michael Jackson Famous Dead With Higher Incomes

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May 14 2012 01:51 pm | Celebrity Tattoos

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