New highest-earning dead celebrity: Top 10 revealed


Elizabeth Taylor auction BEBETO MATTHEWS/AP/Press Association Images

Some of us struggle to make ends meet while we're working full time. Others seem to have the cash-generating gene, and even death is no barrier to vast earning power. Forbes has released its annual list of the highest-earning dead celebrities, and revealed a new number one, who made $210 million in the last year alone.

So who is this mega-wealthy dead person, and who else makes the top 10?

1. Elizabeth Taylor

Earnings of $210 million in 12 months is a stunning haul for someone who died well over a year ago. Most of it came from a record-breaking auction of her jewellery and art at Christies. Another large chunk came from sales of her White Diamond perfume. Plus she gained from the fact she negotiated royalties in most of her films. However, the pundits agree that the one-off sale pushed her into first place, and she'll struggle to keep this position for another year.

2. Michael Jackson

The former leader of the pack earned £145 million in the last year. A large portion of this came from the fact he owns half of the Sony/ATV publishing catalogue, so he makes money from the sales of albums from everyone from The Beatles to Lady Gaga. During his lifetime, lavish spending meant he struggled to stay in the black despite these huge earnings. After his death he doesn't have quite the same problem.

3. Elvis Presley

Elvis matched his total of $55m from last year. He took a hit after a Vegas show based on his songs closed. However, this was made up for by high footfall at his former mansion, Graceland.

4. Charles Schultz

The Peanuts cartoonist made $37 million from sales relating to his iconic characters - who are officially the ninth most lucrative entertainment franchise in the world. We can expect him to move up this particular list, as Snoopy and his friends are set to star in a movie, released in 2015.

5. Bob Marley

With $17 million in earnings, as well as the 75 million albums he has sold in the last 20 years, the money is made in a number of surprising ways - including a 'relaxation' drink and branded headphones and speakers.

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6. John Lennon

He made $12 million last year. Massive album sales have been added to by a Las Vegas show, and a variety of commercial agreements with companies including Cisco.

7. Marilyn Monroe

$10 million came from the licensing rights to use the star's image. These were bought by a new company last year, so pundits expect them to start exploiting it more effectively next year - including launching a number of cafes and spas - so we could see her back in the top 5 soon.

8. Albert Einstein

Earnings of $10 million aren't bad for someone who died more than 50 years ago. His money is also made from licensing his image - which is associated with a number of brands that want to trade on a clever image.

9. Theodor Geisel - also known as Dr Seuss

Last year he made $9 million, boosted by the movie of The Lorax. Next year he is expected to benefit from another movie - a remake of The Cat in the Hat, starring Mike Myers.

10. Steve McQueen

Being the icon of cool made him $8 million last year. A limited edition motorcycle has been a big earner, as well as being a face of Tommy Hilfiger and Tag Heuer.

It seems from this list, therefore, that the best ways to posthumous wealth include producing a large body of work (in which you have a stake), investing wisely, and having your estate managed well after your death - although of course dying young and looking pretty doesn't seem to hurt either.

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World's most powerful celebrities

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