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Highest-Paid Dead Celebrities Of 2022



By Balogun Kamilu Lekan

Some celebrities continue to work hard even after permanently leaving our world. Through marketing and licensing agreements and royalties from their work, these celebrities are still generating income (most frequently for their estates).

The hit-makers and household names responsible for some of the biggest releases in human history are still raking in posthumous pay cheques at an eye-watering rate, claims Forbes, which just released its annual list of the highest-paid dead celebrities.

Below is a list of top-earning dead celebrities according to Forbes

10. Charles Schulz – $24 Million

Cause of death – Cancer

Both earning money and torturing poor Charlie Brown are reliable activities for Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang. However, the game’s dynamics are altering. Since 1965, the beloved holiday specials “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” has aired on free broadcast television. 

However, Apple TV has acquired the rights for their paid streaming service (nonsubscribers will be able to watch for free on certain days and PBS will also stream the specials.)

9. Jeff Porcaro – $25 Million

Cause of death – Heart attack

The drummer from 80s rock outfit Toto doesn’t have nearly the same name recognition as the rest of the dead celebs, but he was an industry legend while living. Not only did he co-write the platinum-certified song “Africa,” Porcaro was the go-to studio drummer for recording bigwig Quincy Jones and kept the beat on the best-selling album of all time, Michael Jackson’s Thriller. 

Porcaro also collaborated with Steely Dan, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen. His publishing and recording royalties were snapped up by Primary Wave.

8. Dr Seuss – $32 Million

Cause of death – Cancer

Dr Seuss once wrote that the inhabitants of Whoville lived in a world no bigger than a speck of dust and that Horton the elephant kindly carried their speck on a fluffy dandelion. 

Since last November, those tiny Whos and classic characters like The Cat in the Hat, The Grinch, and The Lorax have generated over $16 million in book sales, a Netflix deal, and merchandise.

7. Leonard Cohen – $55 Million

Cause of death – Fatal fall

Hipgnosis, a publicly traded music management and IP company run by Merck Mercuriadis, who has managed artists as diverse as Beyoncé, Elton John, Guns N’ Roses, and Morrissey, has acquired the publishing and masters of the “Hallelujah” crooner.

Cohen wasn’t overly concerned about money issues while alive: After his manager “misappropriated” $5 million in the middle of the 2000s, Cohen had lunch at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles with investment banker David Pullman of “Bowie Bond” fame.

6. Michael Jackson – $75 Million

Cause of death – Overdose/homicide

The Jackson-themed Cirque de Soleil show in Las Vegas is back in action and making money alongside the King of Pop’s Mijac Music catalogue now that Covid restrictions have been lifted.

The Broadway musical “The Musical,” is a jukebox version of Jackson’s life. According to a Jackson estate source, the musical is expected to earn $80 million, a remarkable achievement considering that it only debuted nine months ago.

5. James Brown – $100 Million

Cause of death – Heart failure

The name and likeness of the Godfather of Soul, his property, real estate, and music rights, were purchased by independent music publisher Primary Wave of New York. According to reports, Brown’s estate will use some of the money to fund academic scholarships for underprivileged kids permanently.

4. Elvis Presley – $110 Million

Cause of death – Heart attack

He profited handsomely when visitors to the King’s Graceland mansion and resort were cooped up and ready for a getaway. At least $80 million of Presley’s earnings, according to sources close to the estate, came from tour tickets, performances, and merchandise.

The money the estate made from the famous Elvis biopic wasn’t much, but Presley’s earnings are expected to rise for at least the next 18 months as both new and devoted fans try to get a piece of the King. Even plush versions of Disney’s Stitch-wearing Elvis jumpsuits are selling more successfully now than they did a year ago.

3. David Bowie – $250 Million

Cause of death – Cancer

The Thin White Duke famously questioned in 1971’s Hunky Dory, “Is there life on Mars?” 

Although Elon Musk is still working on the answer, the $250 million profit from the sale of David Bowie’s publishing catalogue and masters to Warner Chappell in January would make Major Tom envious. Indeed, the Man Who Sold the World.

2. Kobe Bryant – $400 Million

Cause of death – Helicopter crash

Before his passing in 2020, the late L.A. Lakers legend held a 7% stake in the BodyArmor energy drink and served on the board of directors.

Coca-Cola agreed to pay $5.6 billion at an $8 billion valuation for the 70% of BodyArmor that it did not own by November 2021. The sale reportedly brought in $400 million for Bryant’s estate.

1. J.R.R. Tolkien – $500 Million

Cause of death – Pneumonia

When Swedish video game developer Embracer announced in August that it had acquired Middle Earth Enterprises, they chose to share that they had spent $788 million on six acquisitions, including Tolkien, rather than providing the deal’s price. 

One astute hobbit, however, claimed in Forbes that Embracer spent at least $500 million on Middle Earth Enterprises; Embracer did not dispute this claim. 

In what has been called the most complicated IP rights split in history, Embracer will split the shire with a plethora of other businesses that own additional pieces of Tolkien’s intellectual property, including HarperCollins, Amazon, Warner Brothers/New Line, and Tolkien Estate.


The information in this article was curated from online sources. NewsWireNGR or its editorial team cannot independently verify all details.

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