Three top-earning dead celebrities in 2012

25 Oct

Elizabeth Taylor
$210 million
Died: March 23, 2011
Age: 79
Cause: Heart failure

It’s amazing how much money an artist can earn after they have died. It can be a true testament to their talent or the real loyalty of their fans. Elizabeth Taylor tops our list this year thanks to Christie’s record-breaking sale of the late movie star’s jewelry and art. The massive sale, which took place in New York and London, brought in $184 million. The most expensive piece sold was a Van Gogh painting which sold for $24.6 million. Now that Taylor’s friends and family are set for life financially, her estate will turn its attention to how best to exploit Taylor’s image. There’s lots of potential in Taylor’s embodiment of old Hollywood glamour.

Michael Jackson
$145 million
Died: June 25, 2009
Age: 50
Cause: Overdose/homicide

Music’s postmortem cash king Michael Jackson has earned more than any single living artist since his death. Jackson continues to rake in revenues from the work of other artists (through his 50% stake in the Sony/ATV publishing catalog), his own material (the Mijac Music catalog), a Cirque du Soleil show (the Michael Jackson Immortal World Tour) and other sources. His total would be even higher if FORBES hadn’t credited the advance for the latter to last year’s $170 million total.

Elvis Presley
$55 million
Singer, actor
Died: August 16, 1977
Age: 42
Cause: Heart attack

The King of Rock n’ Roll Elvis Presley’s earnings are flat this year – the closure of his Viva Elvis show in Las Vegas was offset by an uptick in Graceland attendance due to last year’s unusually warm weather. The estate’s value was clear to billionaire Leon Black, whose Apollo Global Management purchased CKX, the parent company of American Idol and the estates of both Elvis and Muhammad Ali, for $509 million last year

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