It might be a goal for some celebrities to leave behind a legacy once they pass away. Because if you think about it, there are some stars who have passed and most of the population has already forgotten about them. On the other hand, you have the celebrities that people still admire and that you still hear about long after they are gone.
All Shook Up With Money
Successfully leaving behind a legacy creates a particular set of rewards… rewards such as lasting everlasting adoration from fans and major revenue. That money can be for the close family and friends they left behind, or it can just be used as an indicator of how impactful they were. Here is a list of the highest paid dead stars.
Bruce Lee – $7 Million (2013)
Bruce Lee passed away back in 1973. Since his death, his family has been at somewhat of a divide. On the 40th anniversary of his death, a museum exhibition dedicated to Bruce was opened and it forced the family to come face to face. Disputes over whether or not Bruce’s likeness could be used is just one of many problems that affect those Bruce left behind.
Bruce earns his money from all the films he starred in and from the estate that is operated by his daughter Shannon. Pretty soon we could see Bruce in a new movie, with the help of technology.
James Dean – $8.5 Million (2015)
The person who receives James Dean’s earnings is his cousin. He can thank the managers at CMG for that, because Dean’s career was short but he was still able to impact enough so that he could produce after his death. He, unfortunately, died at 24 years old — just one month before the release of his film Rebel Without A Cause.
A car crash took his life but his image lives on today. You may have seen his image on a Dolce & Gabbana shirt, among other places. His legacy mainly lives on thanks to the use of his iconic image and the fact he passed so young. It’s like he’s immortal.
Theodor Geisel – $9.5 Million (2015)
The Cat in The Hat, Green Eggs and Ham and How the Grinch Stole Christmas are just a few of the classics this man has created. Theodor Geisel, or Dr. Seuss, surely left behind a legacy to be proud of. Kids for generations to come will always know about green eggs and ham.
Theodor passed away in 1991 and made $10 million in 2000 off the strength of the film How the Grinch Stole Christmas. His widow Audrey Geisel negotiates how revenue will be divvied up to Dr. Seuss Enterprises and they give all the proceeds to charity. Since Dr. Seuss started writing, over 400 million of his books have been sold.
Jimi Hendrix – $7 Million (2013)
Jimi Hendrix is one of the best to do it. The guitarist was innovative with his skills and his talent has paid off in the years since he’s been gone. Most of his revenue comes from posthumous releases. Fans just can’t seem to get enough because the Hendrix estate recently came out with a four-CD box set and they ate it up.
Not only does his music get released but so do his live shows, in form of DVD. He also has had ad campaigns where his songs were featured. His tragic death was back in 1970 so it is great to see him still getting some recognition.
Steve McQueen – $9 Million (2013)
If you are looking for someone who personifies cool, then look no further. This guy is so suave, his nickname was The King of Cool. You don’t get to be called the king of anything unless it’s a consensus that you are indeed #1. McQueen’s cool persona is what has helped him bring in the dough past his death.
Steve McQueen was the symbol of the anti-hero back during the Vietnam War. He had plenty of hits during his acting career, such as The Magnificent Seven and The Sand Pebbles. He passed away in 1980 but his legacy still carries on. His estate partnered with Lucky Jeans and that has helped as well.
Bettie Page – $11 Million (2016)
When they tell you sex sells, they are not lying. Bettie Page is a prime example. Her sex appeal is seemingly permanent even in death and she gets her revenue from bridal wear, lingerie swimwear and other items inspired by her. She just recently passed in 2008, so unlike the others on the list, we still has some time to see how long she lasts.
Making that type of money after your death probably means you made a ton while you were living. Wrong. Unfortunately, Page did not start making real money until she met Hugh Hefner a few years before she died. He helped her get an agent so that she could make the proper cash she deserved.
Albert Einstein – $11 Million (2015)
Viewed as one of the smartest people in history, Albert Einstein was the one who came up with the equation E=mc2. Bettie Page embodied sexy and Einstein makes you think “intelligence” when you look at him. Just like sex, smarts sells and Einstein is proving it. Of course, we’re talking real smarts, not just “you got straight A’s through high school”.
Einstein’s estate is owned by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and in 2015 they made $11 million alone from merchandise such as mugs bobbleheads and posters. In fact, Einstein’s pen was sold for $3,000 dollars a few years ago.
Paul Walker – $10.5 (2015)
Along with Vin Diesel, Paul Walker was the face of the Fast and the Furious blockbuster franchise. Women loved his blue eyes and men could relate to his love for cars. Not to mention, he was a pretty great actor. It is sad that his life ended so early and right before the seventh Furious movie was released.
The film grossed $1.5 billion dollars and Walker reeled in $10.5 million of that! Walker left his entire $25 million fortune to his daughter. Walker’s will was made in 2001 so that mean he already knew for a while where he wanted his money to if something were to happen to him.
John Lennon – $12 Million (2015)
Killed by an act of homicide in 1980, John Lennon still enjoys spoils from beyond the grave. Chances are one of your favorite Beatles songs was written by Lennon since he co-wrote most of their hits. The key word being “hits”… we know this man was talented at what he did.
Because he was a co-writer of many of the hits, his estate gets half of the publishing rights which earns him cash every time a song comes on the radio and also 25 percent of royalties from record sales. The legend of The Beatles doesn’t seem to be fading anytime soon.
Marilyn Monroe – $17 Million (2015)
Here we have another sex symbol, may she rest in peace. Marilyn Monroe makes more as a dead star than many celebs do while they are alive. We all know that famous picture of her holding down her white dress as the air tries to blow it away from her torso. Her appeal has earned her what seems like an eternal source of revenue.
Monroe now has a clothing line that is sold at Macy’s. This is 50 years after her death in 1962. She also has a lingerie line, and let us be honest, –what girl would not want to buy some of her lingerie to boost her own appeal?
Elizabeth Taylor – $20 Million (2015)
Elizabeth Taylor comes in on the list as the highest paid women. She passed in 2011 and the year following her death, she earned a whopping amount of cash when her jewelry was auctioned off. Apparently, it was not your average jewelry because it helped contribute majorly to her $185 million earnings in 2012.
Also, she has a highly popular perfume that has earned her $35 million. Taylor’s estate has been making smart moves which continue help boost her pay while she is gone. Their next venue is looking into cosmetics and high-end clothing which would be brilliant because fashion is a famously hot market.
Charles Schulz – $40 Million (2015)
Jackie Chan has said a handful of great quotable words but you cannot forget the time when he murmured the words “I Love Snoopy.” Jokes aside, who does not like Snoopy? Charles Schulz is the creator of the beloved Peanuts comics and his estate is accumulating a big amount of money from the franchise.
He did not create a single new comic strip after his retirement back in 2000 but nevertheless, upwards of 2,500 newspapers still print Peanuts reruns. That’s legendary status for just a cartoon pup. What really matters is that 95 percent of his income comes from licensing deals for little luxuries like stuffed animals or stickers.
Bob Marley – $21 Million (2016)
Bob Marley is a Jamaican icon. Recently, there was a question going around that had people wonder if Usain Bolt was a bigger legend from Jamaica than Marley. Jamaicans laughed at that remark and even found it somewhat offensive. Marley was a figure who not only made good music but also had positive messages which made him very marketable.
In every gas station you go to you will most likely see Marley smiling at you from the bottle of one his mellow teas. He makes money from his music sales still but more comes from the House of Marley, which makes eco-friendly audio products.
Prince – $25 Million (2016)
Prince, after having died so unexpectedly in 2016, still has many fans who are grieving over him. One thing that is not grieving is his money after his passing. Those who he left behind are patiently waiting to find out who will get the estate but reportedly, the judge is in no hurry to choose who inherits.
Prince passed while he was still basically at the peak of his touring game, making about $2 million per show. He also sold over 2.5 million albums, which was more than any other dead musician in 2016. Fans just can’t get enough of that purple rain, it seems.
Elvis – $27 Million (2016)
Did Elvis make every girl who saw him perform live weak in the knees? The answer to that is still undergoing research but we would bet top dollar that he did. If you have ever been to Las Vegas you will see an abundance of Elvis impersonators walking along the strip. They should all be paying royalties to use his identity!
His daughter got his mansion in Memphis after he passed in 1977. The mansion alone rakes in $15 million dollars a year from admission fees. T-shirts and other merchandise gain $5 million a year. Everyone loved Elvis, if you couldn’t tell.
Arnold Palmer – $40 Million (2016)
Another unfortunate recent death, the great golfer Arnold Palmer will have a lucrative afterlife indeed. Would you have guessed that in Asia there are 500 Arnold Palmer-branded stores? Palmer pulled in $3.6 million in prize money during his career but that is only a smidge of what he got from endorsements and appearances.
And like Bob Marley, Palmer has that half lemonade-half iced tea drink that you always see. Amazingly, that drink makes up for a quarter of Arizona Beverage Company’s revenue. As we stated previously, that means Palmer will continue to make money for many years to come.
Muhammad Ali – $10 and growing (2016)
The greatest to step foot in the boxing ring makes the list but he never really cared about money. Well, let’s rephrase that. He did not care about having money personally because he would much rather donate it to those who needed it. He was confident in competition but thoughtful outside of it. Much of the money Ali earned during his career was donated to others, according to his friend.
Ten years before Ali’s death he sold the rights to his image and name for $50 million but his estate kept 20 percent of it and it now grows exponentially.
Michael Jackson – $825 Million (2016)
He was the king of pop and is the king of earning from the crypt. Even the most successful stars right now might not ever see $825 million during their careers! From dancing and entertaining the crowd alive to doing it via hologram, as long as he can moonwalk for the fans they’ll eat it up.
His hologram performance at Cirque du Soleil is what brings in plenty of his funds. Not only that, but he still earns from his own music as well as the other artists who are in the Sony/ATV music publishing company. Those artists include Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift. Show Michael the money!
It is a shame that these stars are gone, and some gone too soon, but for those who were survived by them and inherited what they left behind, there must be a sense of consolation. Most of these legends made a lasting impact and that is why they are on this list.
In some of these cases, the celebrities had smart people behind them so their money would be fine even long after they are gone. You saw what happened with Bettie Page… once she connected with the right person she began to reap the benefits she’d worked so hard for. Here’s to hoping that everyone with a ton of money learns how to manage it well like these stars did.