Kurt Cobain Finds Nirvana, Overtaking Elvis On The List Of The Richest Dead Celebrities
Posted October 25, 2006 12:00 pm.
This article is more than 5 years old.
It’s a gloomy question, but for those who control the images and estates of departed famous people, it’s a more than a matter of mortality.
It’s their living.
And now, according to Forbes Magazine, the world officially has a new number one earning late and lamented star.
Former Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain has overtaken Elvis Presley to become the number one earning dead celebrity on – or should that be off? – the planet.
Cobain’s work managed to pull in $50 million US over the past year, beating the King of Rock and Roll by some $8 million.
It’s the only time Elvis has been moved from the number one spot since the list was first published four years ago.
Part of the reason for the big change – Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, sold a 25 percent stake for the rights to his work to a music publishing company, bringing in huge dollars.
The grunge rocker committed suicide in 1994, but his work has never been off the radio.
Charles Schulz, who died in 2000, is third. His Peanuts comic strip is still being rerun in papers around the world and his characters enjoy an incredible afterlife. They’re used in everything from paper cups to greeting cards and have kept the cash rolling in to the tune of $19 million. Good grief, indeed.
Murdered Beatle John Lennon takes fourth place. His post mortem career is anything but just like starting over, raking in $24 million from October 2005 to now.
So who’s number five? You’ve never seen him in concert and he never made a single movie, but his name turns up on the list over and over again. It’s Albert Einstein, whose iconic image has been used on posters, advertising and in educational videos. His rights belong to a university in Israel, which realizes a huge windfall from his name.
You don’t have to be a genius to see that adds up to $20 million.
It’s interesting to note that of the top rankings, more than half are from the world of music and only one – Marilyn Monroe – comes from acting.
The Forbes list is based on licensing deals and profits gleaned from the dearly departed’s work, which still sells long after they’ve gone.
And in a nod to Halloween, the ghoulish countdown consists of 13 people, and is always released in late October.
Forbes Top Earning Dead Celebrities
1) Kurt Cobain ($50 million)
2) Elvis Presley ($42 million)
3) Charles Schulz ($35 million)
4) John Lennon ($24 million)
5) Albert Einstein ($20 million)
6) Andy Warhol ($19 million)
7) Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) ($10 million)
8) Ray Charles ($10 million)
9) Marilyn Monroe ($8 million)
10) Johnny Cash ($8 million)
11) J.R.R. Tolkien ($7 million)
12) George Harrison ($7 million)
13) Bob Marley ($7 million)