Every year, Forbes releases its list of the highest-paying dead celebrities. Unsurprisingly, many of these celebrities see huge increases in their estates after their heirs, businesses or estates sell the rights to their songs, stories, products and more. 2021’s list of highest-paid celebs ranges from singers who saw a huge bump in revenue after a sale of their discography to children’s writers whose fantastical worlds will be streaming on a screen near you soon.
Check out Forbes for more methodology information.
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13. John Lennon
- Money earned since death: $12 million
- Died: Dec. 8, 1980
- Age at death: 40 (homicide)
- How they earned their money: While Michael Jackson bought a share of Lennon’s claim to The Beatles’ songs, Lennon’s remaining share is still worth $12 million.
12. Jarad Higgins (Juice WRLD)
- Money earned since death: $15 million
- Died: Dec. 8, 2019 (overdose)
- Age at death:21
- How they earned their money: Higgins earned 13 million followers on Twitter and Instagram. His songs have been streamed over 5.6 billion times in the U.S. alone. His estate recently sold an anniversary edition of his second album, “Goodbye & Good Riddance,” and a documentary about his life was created for AFI Fest.
11. Bob Marley
- Money earned since death: $16million
- Died: May 11, 1981 (cancer)
- Age at death: 36
- How they earned their money: Marley’s name is used to sell speakers, turntables, headphones, clothing, lighters, and most recently, psychedelics due to a deal with Silo Wellness Inc, to create a new mushroom product called Marley One.
10. Luther Vandross
- Money earned since death: $21 million
- Died: July 1, 2005 (stroke)
- Age at death: 54
- How they earned their money: This R&B singer got famous for his 1981 song “Never Too Much.” This year, his estate earned about $20 million after Primary Wave bought a stake in his publishing streams.
9. Gerry Goffin
- Money earned since death: $23 million
- Died: June 19, 2014 (natural causes)
- Age at death: 75
- How they earned their money: This lyricist co-wrote a plethora of top hits throughout his prolific career. He produced Whitney Houston’s “Sacin’ All My Love for You” and co-wrote most of his ex-wife’s songs, Carole King. He saw a $20 million revenue bump in 2021 after Primary Wave bought a stake in his catalog of music.
8. Arnold Palmer
- Money earned since death: $27 million
- Died: Sept. 25, 2016
- Age at death: 87
- How they earned their money: The famous golfer makes most of his post-death dollars because of a deal with Arizona Beverages to name their lemonade-iced tea after him. After Molson Coors released a spiked version of this in 2021, sales have grown 15%.
7. Elvis Presley
- Money earned since death: $30 million
- Died: Aug. 16, 1977 (heart attack)
- Age at death: 42
- How they earned their money: The Presley estate is making money through Graceland, Cinedigm’s The Elvis Presley Channel, a new Netflix series called “Agent King” (which sees Elvis as a secret government spy after faking his death), among numerous other business operations that are still ongoing.
6. Bing Crosby
- Money earned since death: $33 million
- Died: Oct. 14, 1977 (heart attack)
- Age at death: 75
- How they earned their money: The actor and singer makes money every time you stream his famous songs, including “White Christmas,” which was streamed 87 million times in 2020 alone.
5. Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss)
- Money earned since death: $35 million
- Died: Sept. 24, 1991 (cancer)
- Age at death: 87
- How they earned their money: Geisel’s widow paved the way for streaming services to pick up Dr. Seuss’s popular stories. After she died in 2018, Seuss Enterprises was able to make a deal with Netflix for an animated “Green Eggs and Ham” series.
4. Charles Schulz
- Money earned since death: $40 million
- Died: Feb. 12, 2000 (cancer)
- Age at death: 77
- How they earned their money: The Peanuts creator saw an influx of revenue in 2021 thanks to a new Apple TV+ deal for the second season of “Snoopy in Space!” The Peanuts empire earned $157 million in 2021 alone.
3. Michael Jackson
- Money earned since death: $75 million
- Died: June 25, 2009 (overdose/homicide)
- Age at death: 50
- How they earned their money: The King of Pop’s discography is still making millions off streaming services.
- Money earned since death: $120 million
- Died: April 21, 2016 (overdose)
- Age at death: 57
- How they earned their money: Three of the High Priest of Pop’s heirs sold their stakes in Prince’s empire for $108 million. Prince still makes royalties from his hits.
1. Roald Dahl
- Money earned since death: $513 million
- Died: Nov.23, 1990 (cancer)
- Age at death: 74
- How they earned their money: Dahl is famous for his children’s books, notably “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Matilda,” both of which will get Netflix remakes by 2023.
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This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.org.