Yves Saint Laurent beats Michael Jackson in posthumous earnings

October 29, 2009

Michael Jackson is now the third person of the year’s highest-earning dead celebrities, after Yves Saint Laurent, fashion designer, and Rodgers and Hammerstein, the musical team who authored The Sound of Music. 

Since his death last June, the King of Pop has made $90 million, according to Forbes magazine. The number included album revenues and the rights linked to his image in This Is It, the documentary launched this week.

But, Saint Laurent earned $350 million this year due to the sale of his estate, which also included 733 works of art. The much celebrated fashion designer passed away in June 2008, at the age of 71.

Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers, who had formed a music partnership, generated $235 million in revenue following the sale of their back catalogue in April to the Imagem Music Group. The composers’ daughters, Alice Hammerstein Mathias and Mary Rodgers Guettel, previously owned the rights to their music. The back catalog included the rights to such classic musicals as The Sound of Music, Oklahoma! and South Pacific.

Hammerstein passed away in 1960, before the then stage musical The Sound of Music was turned into a movie starring Julie Andrews. Rodgers passed away in 1979.

Elvis Presley, who, for the past two years, was on top of the list, is now in fourth spot, before author JRR Tolkien, cartoonist Charles Schulz and ex-Beatle John Lennon.

Albert Einstein still brings in money 50 years after his death thanks to his image, which is used in everything from video ‘brain training’ games to Toyota Prius ads.

Forbes magazine lists the top 13 dead celebrities as amassing a total of $886 million during the last year.

Top Earning Dead Celebrities

1 Yves Saint Laurent - $350 million
2 Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein - $235 million (combined)
3 Michael Jackson - $90 million
4 Elvis Presley - $55 million
5 JRR Tolkien - $50 million
6 Charles Schulz - $35 million
7 John Lennon - $15 million
8 Dr Seuss (Theodor Geisel) - $15 million
9 Albert Einstein - $10 million
10 Michael Crichton - $9 million
11 Jimi Hendrix - $8 million
12 Aaron Spelling - $8 million
13 Andy Warhol - $6 million


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