Be amazed by the huge sums these dead celebs are still raking in
Dead celebrities or “delebs” as they’re perhaps not affectionately known, often rake in more money dead than they ever did alive.
When a celebrity dies it often triggers renewed interest in their work and exposes them to a whole new audience. So not only is their memory preserved through their work, it’s also firmly preserved in the huge coffers of the family for generations to come.
Here’s just a few famous names worth more (for some, even more) dead than they were alive. You may want to sit down first...
1) Michael Jackson
He’s still number one from beyond the grave.
Believe it or not, when the King of Pop died in 2009 aged just 50, he was $500m in debt. Today, his estate is estimated to be worth $1.5bn.
Since he died, he’s made more money than he ever did in his lifetime, and has sold over 50 million albums. He’s still one of the biggest selling artists on iTunes.
2) Elvis Presley
On to another King. This time of rock’n’roll.
Elvis Presley died at just 42 in 1977 but that didn’t put a stop to his earning power.
Elvis was found dead in a bathroom at Gracelands, his estate in Memphis and now the vast majority of his posthumous income is from Graceland admissions, licensing and merchandising.
The Presley coffers were given another boost by the Cirque du Soleil show ‘Viva Elvis’ in Las Vegas, and are now worth over $55m.
3) James Dean
50s film star James Dean died tragically young in a car accident aged just 24. In films like “Rebel Without a Cause” and “Giant”, Dean had captured the hearts and minds of teenagers all over America with his rebellious and cool demeanor. No wonder then, that in death he immediately became an icon adorning many a teenager’s wall.
Despite dying almost 60 years ago, endorsements and image licensing continue to earn about $5 million a year.
4) Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe, the star of “The Seven Year itch’ and “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” also died tragically young, at just 36. When she died in 1962, her estate was worth less than $100,000. But her image refused to die and she too has become a style icon right around the world, even ‘co-starring’ in a perfume ad recently with Charlize Theron. Licencing deals have earned her estate approximately $6.5 million over the years with more on the way.
5) John Lennon
The songwriter, peace activist and former Beatle John Lennon was already a very wealthy man when he was killed in New York City in 1980.
Since his death, his estate continues to rake in money and in 2010, when The Beatles were included in the iTunes store, it was boosted a further $9m. And that doesn’t include other royalties, licencing deals, image rights… the list goes on.
6) Elizabeth Taylor
As the female lead of choice in Hollywood for many years, Elizabeth Taylor amassed a small fortune during her life, including earnings from her perfume, White Diamonds. Since her death, White Diamonds has enjoyed continued success and the sale of her jewels, art and gowns alone was expected to generate at least $30 million.
Taylor’s image has not been licenced, but if the estate ever finds itself a bit short the option is there...
7) Stieg Larsson
The Swedish author of the incredibly successful Millenium Trilogy, died suddenly in 2004, before The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was published. Sadly, he never experienced his own success or reaped the unimaginably huge rewards for his incredible achievement.
By the end of 2012, more than 63 million copies of the books had been sold worldwide in 44 languages and films made of all three books.
8) Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol, the avant garde pop artist and creator of The Factory in 1960s always had an eye for what be popular and what would sell.
His instantly recognisable soup cans and multiple portraits of famous friends have been adorning walls across the globe for decades now and certainly long after Warhol’s death in 1987. At the last count, the bucks had rolled in to the tune of approximately $19 million. Not bad for a picture of tomato soup.
9) Charles M. Schulz
Remember Snoopy? Charlie Brown’s loyal, loveable canine companion of “Peanuts” comic strip fame?
When Snoopy’s creator Charles Schulz, died in 2000, it may have meant the end of the cartoons, but TV rights and licensing agreements from clothes to mugs and posters, continue to bolster the Schulz estate, with an estimated value of about $35 million.
10) Albert Einstein
We’ve all heard of him. We all know exactly what he looks like. We know he worked out the formula E=MC2 even if we’re not sure what that means.
Wild haired physicist and all round genius, Albert Einstein died in 1955 but his image is still recognised everywhere and thanks to licencing, his estate is feeling the benefit.
Disney has to pay big money to use his name for their Baby Einstein line. Even T-shirts emblazoned with his face and formula put money in the growing pot, estimated to be worth approximately $20 million.
Oh to be a descendant one of this lot! Unfortunately, most of us aren’t made of money. Have you ever stopped to think about the true cost of someone dying? It may not be something to dwell on, but having of an idea of what funeral and estate administration costs might be, can help you and your family be more prepared when the time comes, making a troubling time less stressful and less challenging on the pockets of those left behind.
Every year, SunLife conducts a comprehensive study into the total cost of dying, to help people understand the costs involved and demonstrate how much these costs have risen by over recent years. Find out the cost of dying in your area.