Celebrity icons are able to rake in the big bucks while they’re in the midst of their fame, but what’s more surprising is the amount of money their estate can make once they’ve passed on. Thanks to royalties, copyrights and smart investments, some famous actors and musicians are still earning millions a year even after their death. You may be shocked to hear just how much the highest earning celebrities are posthumously raking it in.
1. Highest Earning Celebrities (Alive): MJ’s Still Top 10
The “King of Pop” raked in millions of dollars while he was still with us. But you may be surprised to find out that the singer, who passed away in 2009, still brings in over $100 million per year. Last year alone, Michael’s estate made $160 million. His earnings come from his This Is It film (Sony paid $60 million for film rights), royalties from the Cirque de Soleil tribute that is a permanent show in Las Vegas, the MIJAC music catalog, and his XSCAPE album which is comprised of the singer’s unused vocals.
2. Elvis Presley’s Still Setting Records
The next king on the list is the “King of Rock and Roll.” This pelvis-gyrating icon, who passed away in 1977, still brings in the big bucks almost 40 years later! Since his death, Elvis holds the record for the most songs charting the Billboard Top 100 and Top 40 lists. Over 20 of his tracks have been re-released, remixed or used in advertising campaigns. His Graceland estate, which opened to the public in 1982, attracts over half a million visitors each year. Elvis also had a Cirque de Soleil tribute in Vegas which turned into an album in 2010. As of 2011, there were 15,000 licensed Presley products and last year alone, Elvis’ estate made $55 million!
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