Which dead celebrities earn the most?

Here are the top ten:

1. Kurt Cobain
2. Elvis
3. Charles Schulz
4. John Lennon
5. Albert Einstein
6. Andy Warhol
7. Dr. Seuss
8. Ray Charles
9. Johnny Cash
10. J.R.R. Tolkien

Here is more information.  I love "Aneurysm", but I am surprised that Cobain leads the list.  I would have expected Schulz and Seuss at the top, followed by Elvis.


Big year for Cobain, due to bulk sales of rights to his work. He should be back down the list next year, and Elvis can resume posthumous hegemony.

El Che? or does his money go to the revolution?

I assume that Lennon is ahead of Harrison for the same reason that Pete Townsend has tons more money than the rest of The Who, namely song-writing royalties.

Jesus, unlike L. Ron Hubbard, didn't have the foresight to protect his religion's IP. Omnipotent, indeed.

Aneurysm? Come on, Tyler. Do we really have to pretend that these are great songs. I don't hate Nirvana, but people elevate their most mediocre material because the critical community has decided, for some reason, that this band needs to be seen as one of the great bands of all time. What a crock. Sorry--pet peeve of mine

where is Tupac?

Of course, with respect to Elvis the "dead" part is open to some debate :)

On the outskirts of Las Vegas, off the road that leads to the Mt. Charleston resort area, there's a street sign reading "Elvis Alive Drive." Seriously.

busting on the beatles is just senseless. you can bust on nirvana because of the limited amount of material, but denying the greatness of the songs on nevermind (and some earlier and later (e.g., all apologies, the mtv acoustic stuff)) is pretty silly as well.

How about instead of busting on the Beatles or Nirvana, let's trash IP.
In a free market, a creator has two rights to his property: the right to
his own copies, whether in manuscript or other forms, and the right to
the first sale (or disposal) of it. What a creator (or his estate) does
not have is the "downsteam right" to control the property of other people
and the ways in which they dispose of it. This third, legislated "right"--
the exclusive right to copy and make or license derivative copies of a
copyrighted work--is what causes monopoly prices, rent seekers, and the
Forbes list.
Down with IP, now more than ever!

Without a doubt, the most undeservedly glorified band with a deceased front man is The Doors. There is no discussion necessary on that point.

I think Einstein is still raking it in from his Baby Einstein series as well as the movie Young Einstein, which tells of the Physicists discovery of the theory of Rock n Roll

It'd be interesting to adjust these figures by years after death. If I'm not mistaken, that would catapult
Einstein to the top of the list.

To Douglas Knight,

Presumably the reason competition doesn't drive down the price (to zero)
is because of the compulsory licensing laws enacted early in the 20th
This illustrates part of what's wrong with IP.
In a free market, anyone could use Einstein's image, as an image could
not be owned.

Tupac isn't dead, thats why he's not on the list. Forbes is in on the cover-up.

I, like most others on here, am surprised to find Kurt Cobain at the top of the list. While there is debate over the quality of Nirvana’s music, the fact remains that Cobain’s estate made $50 million of that music last year alone. I think this list raises a very interesting question. How popular is death? Are some celebrities simply before their time? I was still young when Andy Warhol died, so I’m not sure of his popularity during his life, but I’m actually more surprised to see his name on the list than Kurt Cobain. Many classic artists, such as Van Gogh, received better press after his death than before. So can an artist become more profitable for his estate by simply dying than if he continued to live and produce works? An interesting notion to be sure.

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