In Death, Elvis Makes More Money Than Live Artists


While things might be topsy-turvy in the financial markets above ground, it’s still a bull market in the boneyard. The 13 famous names that make up our Top-Earning Dead Celebrities earned a combined $194 million over the last 12 months.

Topping the list for the second year running, is the former King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley. Without so much as lifting a finger, the Memphis Flash earned a whopping $52 million in the last year. That’s more than some of the music industry’s biggest living acts command–Justin Timberlake pulled in $44 million last year; Madonna $40 million.

The 30th anniversary of Elvis’ death helped boost attendance and merchandise sales at Graceland, and new ventures such as an Elvis Sirius Satellite Radio show add to a long list of publishing and licensing deals.

Adding up paychecks of dead celebrities can be a wicked task–after all, they don’t exactly sit for interviews. To get to the bottom line, we talked to experts and sources inside their estates and dug up the gross earnings (before taxes, management fees and other costs) from the period of October 2007 to October 2008.

No. 2: Charles M. Schulz
No. 3: Heath Ledger
No. 4: Albert Einstein
No. 5: Aaron Spelling
No. 6: Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel)
No. 7: John Lennon
No. 8: Andy Warhol
No. 9: Marilyn Monroe
No. 10: Steve McQueen
No. 11: Paul Newman
No. 12: James Dean
No. 13: Marvin Gaye

Photo by calamity1.

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