It’s easy to see that most celebrities who are on the “A list” and on the red carpet, often are pretty well off when it comes to their finances. After all, they’ve got to pay someone to keep their hair and makeup looking perfect, and someone has to get paid for keeping these stars’ reputations intact (most of the time). Not to mention, most successful celebrities live in elaborate homes, drive fancy cars, and can afford to send their children to some of the best schools in the country.
Some would argue that the measure of a celebrity’s (or any working adult’s) success is his/her ability to leave something behind for his/her children and family. That’s why there are some celebrities who are still filthy rich—even though they’ve passed away. Of course, their loved ones are enjoying the fruit of their hard work, and a number of foundations and worthwhile projects are sometimes funded in honor of the celebrity.
These celebrities were likely pretty rich when they were alive, but now that they’re no longer with us, memorabilia and historic items associated with the stars are worth lots of money. Property and businesses that the celebrity once owned can still generate money as well. Here are 12 of the richest celebs—who are deceased.
12 Jenni Rivera
Latin pop star Jenni Rivera, passed away in 2012 in a plane crash. She has sold almost as many albums in her death as she did when she was alive. Fans have purchased 880,000 records since her death and her overall earnings have increases since she died. According to her autobiography Unbreakable: My Story, which has sold 400,000 copies since it was released, her estate is doing quite well. Rivera also starred in a Mexican-American reality show called I Love Jenni, but the show ended the year after she passed away. It attracted an audience of 5.5 million, which just goes to show how much the star was loved and admired.
11 Steve McQueen
Steven McQueen (the actor, not the director) died 32 years ago. However, he is still inspiring people’s clothing and acting styles. There are even limited edition Triumph motorcycles that were created in Steve McQueen’s honor, and the bikes cost $10,000 a piece. Persol and Tommy Hilfiger have also used Steve McQueen’s likeness to immediately make their brands a little cooler. McQueen is also the Tag Heuer brand ambassador, and has starred in their ads with live celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz. In just a year’s time, all this “work” has brought the late actor $9 million in earnings.
10 Bettie Page
Bettie Page is known as the woman who gave pin-up girls their style. Unfortunately, she passed away in 2008 of a heart attack when she was 85. The story has it that she was encouraged to get her signature haircut from a police officer. Page’s low-cut tops and alluring nature made her quite successful as a pin-up girl. We’ve all probably seen pictures or calendars featuring women who showcase the style of Bettie Page. Fans who want to look just like her can even step into a Bettie Page boutique. The businesses were tested in Las Vegas, New York and Portland. The Bettie Page Estate has earned around $10 million.
9 Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein is pretty much the guy you think of when you hear the words “smart” or “intelligent.” Forbes has even stated that Einstein owns ‘smart’. Companies who want to associate their brands with intelligence often use Einstein’s likeness to give customers a good reputation of their company. Even though Albert Einstein is no longer with us, about $10 million has been added to his estate. 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s theory of relativity, and this fact alone will likely increase his earnings. After all, there are several ways technology companies (and businesses in other fields) can use this milestone to convince people to purchase their products or services.
8 Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe passed away from a drug overdose in her bedroom several decades ago. However, she is still considered one of the world’s most popular sex symbols. To this day, women still emulate her classic red lips and big blonde curls when they’re going for the ‘Hollywood bombshell’ look. Monroe is also still a marketable celebrity, even in her death. Authentic Brands Group currently has the right to Marilyn Monroe, and their branding reboot earned the star’s estate $27 million. According to Forbes, licensing money for Monroe was around $15 million, and there are a line of cafes and spas that are Marilyn Monroe-themed that are currently being tested in the market.
7 Bob Marley
Even though Bob Marley died in 1981, he is still known as one of reggae music’s most influential icons. There are still so many singers and musicians who admire his work and are inspired by his style. Marley has sold millions of albums, even after his death, and a beverage company has also been added to this estate. The company sells a “relaxation drink” called Marley’s Mellow Mood, and is sold in many grocery stores. House of Marley is also a part of the Bob Marley estate. The company produces audio and lifestyle goods that are eco-friendly. In just about a year’s time, Marley has earned around $18 million.
6 Charles Schulz
In 2000, the guy who is most well-known for his comic strip, Peanuts, passed away at the age of 77. More than 10 later, the Schulz estate is still earning the artist more than enough money to live a pretty lavish life. In one year’s time, advertisement and licensing deals brought the Charles Schulz estate $37 million. Blue Sky, the animation studio for Fox, has also announced that a Peanuts movie will be released soon. Of course, this will only make the Schulz estate richer. After all, so many people have grown up with the Peanuts characters, and the new technology incorporated into the movie will likely attract younger fans to Charlie Brown and the gang.
5 John Lennon
John Lennon was an activist, but he was best known for being a Beatle. He was killed when he was just 40 in 1980, but he continues to bring in money for his family. Since 1992, albums in which John Lennon’s voice is recorded or his lyrics are used have sold 63 million copies, and that’s just in the United States. Cirque Du Soleil even designed a show to celebrate the work of John Lennon. The musician and singer also had agreements with prominent companies like Cisco, and this brings in money for his loved ones as well. Of course, John Lennon’s work has also made money for The Beatles--more than $12 million, as a matter of fact.
4 Elvis Presley
Presley has long been referred to as "The Rock n’ Roll’s King", and he has a net worth of about $300 million. Sure, other deceased celebs have grossed more than this after their passing, but Presley died in 1977, so this amount is pretty impressive. Elvis also got a tribute show from Cirque du Soleil, called Viva Elvis, in which his likeness and songs were used. Ticket sales weren’t that great, so the show had to close. However, tourists still love to visit Graceland, Elvis’ elaborate home—and the place where he passed away in the bathroom. And yes, there are still people who say that the reason Elvis is still making money is because he’s still alive.
3 Michael Jackson
Even though he passed away in 2009, Michael Jackson is still known as the King of Pop. Apparently, he’s the King of Money as well. In the past year or so, Jackson has “earned” $160 million, which is more than any living musician made during this time period. Most of Jackson’s money this year came from the “Immortal World Tour”, by Cirque Du Soleil. It is the highest grossing tribute show, and Cirque Du Soleil’s most financially successful show. Additionally, Jackson still has a 50 percent stake in the publishing catalog for Sony/ATV, as well as the Mijac Music catalog, which contains Michael Jackson’s own music.
2 Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor will always be seen as a legendary and glamorous actress. She passed away a few years ago at the age of 79. However, her state is still earning around $25 million. Taylor actually earned this honor soon after her passing, thanks to a series of auctions offering prized possessions from her movies and personal life. The auctions alone brought in $184 million, and took place in London and New York. Items that were for sale included the wig that Taylor wore in 1963 in the movie Cleopatra, which sold for about $16,000, and a painting by Van Gogh. The painting was the priciest item at the auction, and sold for $16 million.
1 Theodore Geisel
Theodore Geisel will always be known as Dr. Seuss. He was a beloved children’s book author whose books and characters are still favorites among kids today. Geisel passed away when he was 87, in 1991. Hollywood has cashed in on Geisel’s creativity and genius, and has produced a few movies based on Dr. Seuss’ books. The Lorax alone made $341 million, and the new The Cat in the Hat movie brought in impressive earnings s well. In just one year’s time, Dr. Suess earned about $9 million. This has likely made his family very proud. That, and the fact that he is still positively influencing children and encouraging them to read through his work.