Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Top-Earning Dead Celebrities

The 13 icons on Forbes' sixth annual Top-Earning Dead Celebrities list collectively earned $247 million in the past 12 months. Now how weird is that? We're saying that 13 dead people have made $247 MILLION in the past year!!!

Artists such as Kurt Cobain and Elvis are still appealing America today. Artists estates continue to make money by accepting deals involving both their work and the rights to use their name on merchandise and marketing campaigns. However, it is not easy making this list. In order to secure a spot on this years list, the artist needed to make at least $7 million.
But how can a deceased legend make a profit? A successful film release or an estate sale, for example will at least get you started. However, staying power comes from a body of work or simply an iconic image with long-lasting appeal. For example, last year, 85% of Elvis Presley's estate sold for $100 million. These types of transactions are what have kept the King at the top of the list nearly every year.

Other stars' fortunes fluctuate depending on how active their handlers have been in the past year. This year, two albums have been released by Johnny Cash and John Lennon could be awaiting a significant increase in income due to two lawsuits for unpaid royalties filed by his widow. In the future, late-night legend Johnny Carson, whose personal library of 4,000-plus "Tonight Show" hours could make millions in today's television era.
Of course with emerging technology, the public will likely get an opportunity to hear and see many more deceased stars. Already, voice modeling and computer-generated imaging can bring stars back to provide authentic performances for video games, films and advertisements.

Here are the top 5 on the list:

No. 1, Kurt Cobain Earnings: $50 million
Occupation: musician
Died: April 5, 1994
Age: 27
Cause of death: suicide

No. 2, Elvis Presley Earnings: $42 million
Occupation: musician
Died: Aug. 16, 1977
Age: 42
Cause of death: heart attack

No. 3, Charles M. Schulz Earnings: $35 million
Occupation: cartoonist
Died: Feb. 12, 2000
Age: 77
Cause of death: cancer

No. 4, John Lennon Earnings: $24 million
Occupation: musician
Died: Dec. 8, 1980
Age: 40
Cause of death: murder

No. 5, Albert Einstein Earnings: $20 million
Occupation: scientist
Died: April 18, 1955
Age: 76
Cause of death: natural causes

The full list can be found at

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