Michael Jackson makes Dh 937 million in the year after his death. Check out who else earns big beyond the grave
Michael Jackson, £168m
After his premature death last June, his music immediately shot back into the charts, alongside a hastily put-together movie, This Is It, which has made his estate £40 million (Dh223 million) so far. Merchandise deals increased his posthumous income. A new dance game by Ubisoft Entertainment brought in £20 million in advances. It is believed Jackson has sold 10.4 million albums worldwide and made £168 million in gross earnings since his death at the age of 50. This figure is based on estimated royalties from album sales, radio play, rights to his name and likeness, and royalties from his stake in the Sony/ATV music catalogue. A posthumous deal to sell unreleased Jackson recordings with Sony Music guarantees £130 million over seven years. The money goes to his mother, Katherine, and children, Prince, Paris and Blanket, who collect 80 per cent, with the remainder going to charity.
Bob Marley, £38m
The Rastafarian star died of cancer aged 36 in 1981. The Marley family has seen massive royalties from his catalogue, including Legend, the best-selling reggae album in history. It alone is believed to have brought in £10 million since his death. The family, which also sells Marley-branded apparel and paraphernalia online, has battled Universal Music for allegedly selling Marley ringtones without permission.
Elvis Presley, £1bn
Elvis’ estate has generated many millions from music royalties, DVDs, licensing deals and tourism at Graceland since his death in 1977, aged 42. This year, his estate earned £36 million. Presley’s Graceland mansion is the second most-visited home in the US after the White House, raising £18 million a year. His estate also has a large collection of licensing and merchandise deals. He has appeared posthumously in adverts for everything from Apple’s iMac to Lipton’s Tea. An ad for Sure deodorant digitally altered pictures of Elvis in a black shirt to show white deodorant stains. There is even a newly released collectors’ edition of a Jailhouse Rock-themed Barbie doll on the market. His former wife Priscilla has built an extraordinary business from the King’s ashes. She and her daughter, Lisa-Marie, are the main beneficiaries of the estate.
Freddie Mercury, £50m
Queen rock star Freddie Mercury has been more successful since his death than he ever was in life. He made a £20 million fortune before dying of Aids in 1991, aged 45, but his popularity has rocketed in recent years. Royalties from his music, the Queen musical, and Queen tours have made another £50 million for Mercury over the past two decades since his death. Queen have sold 32.5 million albums in the US, about half of which have been sold since he died. The main beneficiary of his estate is Mercury’s life-long friend Mary Austin.
George Harrison, £40m
The Beatle was also a record producer and co-founder of the production company HandMade Films, which went on to become a moneyspinner for the canny Liverpudlian. He sold it in 1994, but his real money has come from music. He left £100 million in his will after his death in 2001, aged 58, but royalties from Beatles music, such as Taxman and Here Comes The Sun, have kept the tills ringing. On the first anniversary of Harrison’s death, the Concert for George was held at the Royal Albert Hall, organised by Eric Clapton and featuring Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
James Dean, £60m
The Rebel Without A Cause actor has proved a gift for advertisers since his premature death in a car crash in 1955, aged 24. The iconic Dean image — brooding eyes, cigarette dangling from his lips — remains a poster pin-up staple. The epitome of cool, he has been used to advertise everything from Chrysler cars to Lee Jeans.Intellectual property rights company CMG Worldwide represents the Dean estate in licensing deals. Forbes magazine believes Dean’s estate still earns some £2 million (Dh11 million) a year.
Jerry Garcia, £45m
The Grateful Dead singer was known for his distinctive guitar playing. His career in music spanned three decades, with songs such as Good Morning Little School Girl. The money has rolled in since his death in 1995, aged 53, at a rate of around £3 million a year. His estate is managed by his widow, Deborah Koons Garcia, who runs a website where fans can buy everything from £5 Jerry dolls to a £2,500 boxed set of prints of Jerry’s artwork. As well as merchandising, music sales and licensing, other ventures include a Cherry Garcia ice-cream, and a range of ties based on his artwork. Most lucrative of all, Grateful Dead music is used on several new Xbox 360 and PlayStation games.
Jimi Hendrix, £35m
Hendrix has a huge back catalogue plus a licensing deal with Sony. Recently, the Hendrix estate was awarded £2.5 million in a trademark infringement case after Seattle businessman Craig Diffenback and Hendrix’s brother Leon created a product called Hendrix Electric Vodka without the permission of the Hendrix estate, which is controlled by his sister, Janie. The rock star died in 1970, aged 27, of a barbiturate overdose, and his back catalogue currently brings in around £4 million a year.
John Lennon, £200m
The most famous Beatle sang: “Money can’t buy me love.” But his name has earned vast sums since he was shot dead in New York in 1980. He has had 27 singles in the US charts and sold tens of millions of albums. Who gets the money? It is believed his widow Yoko Ono has amassed a £300 million fortune from his estate. She has authorised Lennon’s likeness on everything from coffee cups to sunscreen tubes. There is even a watch featuring a picture of his buttocks. In 2008, she sold rights to his name to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. But Sir Paul McCartney and Apple Records keep a tight hold on much of Lennon’s musical back catalogue. Lennon was worth £100 million on his death, aged 40, but has since made £200 million.
Kurt Cobain, £95m
In 2006, the Nirvana front-man’s widow Courtney Love sold 24.5 per cent of the grunge band’s publishing catalogue for a rumoured £35 million. His songs continue to bring in huge amounts of cash, and Cobain even features as a figure in a video game. His image has been used in many adverts. Cobain, who committed suicide in 1994 at the age of 27, still earns around £25 million a year.
Marilyn Monroe, £96m
CMG Worldwide, the company that manages her estate, sells her image around the world. The curvaceous star, who died in 1962, is exploited in death as she was in life, selling everything from Visa to Volkswagen. Memorabilia sales have raised millions for her estate, with items including a five-page note Marilyn wrote when she was 16. She also adorns posters and greeting cards, and her enduring fame generates around £2 million a year. When she died, aged 36, her estate was valued at £1 million. She left three-quarters to her acting coach Lee Strasberg, and a quarter to her psychoanalyst, Dr Marianne Kris.
Steve McQueen, £40m
That iconic poster of McQueen draped over his motorcycle has posthumously earned him millions. The King of Cool has become a classic symbol, worth a fortune in licensing deals. The star of The Great Escape has seen his name used by clothing line Dolce&Gabbana, Ballantine whisky, Tag Heuer watches and even his own motorbike brand. Ford used Steve McQueen’s likeness in a commercial for the 2005 Mustang. In all, McQueen has made around £40 million since his death in 1980 at the age of 50.
Tupac Shakur, £56m
The American rapper is the most successful hip-hop artist ever, selling more than 75 million albums worldwide. He was shot dead in Las Vegas in 1996, aged 25. His estate earns around £4 million a year from his back catalogue. His mother, immortalised in his song Dear Mama, has set up a foundation for youngsters in his name
– Image Credit: Rex Features
– Report by Gulf News