Music Industry

Time for a new list of the top-earning dead celebrities

Every year around Halloween, someone (usually Forbes) comes up with a list of the highest-earning dead celebrities. Once again, we can see how good death is for business.

Here are the biggest zombie earners for 2018 (all numbers in US dollars)

1. Michael Jackson: $400 million

That’s a lot, but consider that $287 million of that came with selling his estate’s piece of EMI Music Publishing to Sony for $287 million

2. Elvis Presley: $40 million

He still sells at least a million albums a year, but most of the cash comes through tourism to Graceland and other Presley attractions in Memphis.

3. Arnold Palmer: $35 million

Lots of golf gear, obviously, but there’s also a new line of Arnold Palmer alcoholic beverages.

4. Charles Schulz: $34 million

Charlie Brown continues to be very, very good to him.

5. Bob Marley: $23 million

Music, headphones, speakers, ganja gear.

6. Dr. Seuss: $16 million

He sold nearly five million books last year as a dead guy.

7. Hugh Hefner: $15 million

Don’t get excited. A lot of that came from a sale of his estate for $35 million last year.

8. Marilyn Monroe: $14 million

The licensing deals just keep coming.

9. Prince: $13 million

Now that his estate is in control of his music, watch that number climb in 2019.

10. John Lennon: $12 million

Because Beatles. And some Lennon reissues, too.

See the rest of the list here.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38458 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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