It seems that even being dead can’t stop you from making a living. According to Forbes looked at the earnings of deceased celebrities’ estates for the 12 months ending in October 2012. The ten biggest winners are:

1. Elizabeth Taylor (died 2011): $210m. A sale of the film star’s jewellery and artwork raised $184m last year.

Top dead wealthy.

2. Michael Jackson (d. 2009): $145m. The singer earned more last year than any living musician. Money comes from his estate’s ownership of the rights to his own songs and those of many other artists.

3. Elvis Presley (d. 1977): $55m. Visits to the King’s Graceland estate were up last year due to unseasonably warm weather.

4. Charles Schulz (d. 2000): $37m. The Charlie Brown cartoonist’s estate makes money from licensing deals for his Peanuts characters.

5. Bob Marley (d. 1981): $17m. Album sales and product branding (including a line of beverages) have helped fill the reggae singer’s coffers.

6. John Lennon (d. 1980): $12m. The ex-Beatle’s estate shares in the profits from the group’s on-going music sales, and also profits from licensing deals.

7. Marilyn Monroe (d. 1962): $10m. The actress’s estate will see its earnings boosted by the licensing of her name to products including spas and cafés.

8. Albert Einstein (d. 1955): $10m. As with Marilyn Monroe, the scientist’s earnings come largely from the licensing of his image for branding purposes.

9. Theodor Geisel (d. 1991): $9m. The Dr Seuss author’s estate makes money from book sales and film rights.

10. Steve McQueen (d.1980): $8m. Image rights – from brands keen to acquire McQueen’s mystique – account for the majority of the actor’s earnings.


Comment: You can’t take it with you – but that’s obviously no barrier to you continuing to make it. Maybe, as Shakespeare said – via Mark Anthony in ‘Julius Caesar’: ‘The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones…’