Highest Earning Dead Celebrities
The definitive comment on the death of Elvis Presley came from Hollywood agent Sue Mengers. Legend has it that when she heard about it in 1977, she pondered it briefly, nodded in sage approval and said, “Good career move.”
When it comes to celebrities, their death isn’t the end of their earning potential.
Deceased celebrities make money in a variety of ways, such as advertising or whenever their voice or image is used. Musicians can generate income through album sales.
Since his death on 2009, top of the dead celebrity breadwinners is Michael Jackson.
Michael Jackson was the highest earning dead celebrity in 2019 with $60 million (down from the $400 million he hauled in back in 2018 from the sale of his shares in Sony Music).
He was followed by his ex-father-in-law, Elvis Presley, who took in $39 million.
Claiming the number three spot of Highest Earning Dead Celebrities was Charles Schultz with $38 million. That ain’t peanuts!
Nine of the 13 highest earning deceased celebrities in 2019 were musicians.
In addition to Jackson and Presley, other well-paid late musicians included Bob Marley ($20M) and John Lennon ($14M).
Prince comes in next ($12M)
Followed by XXXTentacion ($10M) and Whitney Houston ($9.5M).
Other top earners included Arnold Palmer ($30M), Dr. Seuss ($19M) and Marilyn Monroe ($13M).
Monroe is a mainstay on the deceased celebrities list, generally bringing in about $15 million a year. The blonde bombshell even claimed the Number 3 spot on the list in 2011 with $27 million.
The list of Highest Earning Dead Celebrities contains some mainstays, like MJ, Elvis, Schultz and Monroe; and others who make an appearance or two – usually right after they pass on, such as Muhammad Ali, singer Jenni Rivera or author Robert Ludlum.
The popularity of many celebrities fade over time, so mainstays from earlier times have fallen behind. James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor were once always near the top of the list. But Dean barely mad it in 2001, fell off in 2002 and again edged his way to the bottom of the list in 2003. He last made the list in 2015.
In 2012 a queen ruled the castle, with Liz Taylor taking in $210 million. The two kings followed her; Jackson with $145 million and Presley at $55 million. Taylor last made the list in 2017.
One name that might surprise you is 1950’s pin-up queen Betty Page. She was on the list from 2011 to 2018.
James Brown, who last made the list in 2007, may have been known as the “hardest working man in show business,” but that title clearly belongs to Michael Jackson in the after life.