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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Lifestyle and Travel - 10 legendary celebrities who, despite their passing, continue to earn millions in 2023

Lifestyle and Travel

10 legendary celebrities who, despite their passing, continue to earn millions in 2023

Whitney Elizabeth Houston

CEOWORLD magazine has recently released its “The Highest-Paid Dead Celebrities of 2023” list. The list confirms that even after their passing, some of the world’s rich and famous celebrities continue to earn millions of dollars as a reward for their significant contributions to culture.

The legacies of the celebrities featured in CEOWORLD magazine’s list will never be forgotten— their wealth and impact will remain long after they have gone. Furthermore, their families haven’t been left without financial security.

CEOWORLD magazine’s list of pre-tax earnings from the deceased celebrities for the period between October 1st, 2022 and September 30th, 2023 includes profits generated from licensing agreements, record and merchandise sales, music streaming, other income sources, and estate purchases.

Here are ten deceased celebrities from entertainment and culture who are still earning money in 2023.: 

  1. Michael Jackson
    Total earnings this 2023: US$115 million
    In CEOWORLD magazine’s “The Highest-Paid Dead Celebrities of 2023” list, fans will find Michael Jackson reclaiming the number-one position. This stunning return to the top spot is mainly attributed to the successful Broadway production, “MJ: The Musical.” Since 2022, this theater production has amassed approximately US$85 million in ticket sales. Furthermore, Jackson’s estate profited worth millions of dollars from “Michael Jackson: One.” Fans can watch this Cirque du Soleil production in Las Vegas.

    Michael Jackson

    Jackson has topped the CEOWORLD magazine dead celebrity list annually since his passing in June 2009, except in that year, 2012, 2021, and 2022. The “Thriller” singer notably raked in a whopping US$825 million in 2016, which is the highest yearly earnings a celebrity can take home whether he is alive or dead.

    Showbiz is certainly a lucrative venture for the Jackson estate. After all, the award-winning King of Pop’s posthumous income is expected to continue to balloon even if he is already 14 years dead. Early this 2023, Jackson’s estate signed a deal, in which a biopic titled “Michael” is in the works. The singing superstar’s nephew, Jaafar, will portray his deceased famous uncle in the film production directed by Antoine Fuqua.

  2. Elvis Presley
    Total earnings this 2023: US$100 million
    Elvis Presley placed second in CEOWORLD magazine’s “The Highest-Paid Dead Celebrities of 2023” list. Between 1 October, 2022 and September 30th, 2023, the late King of Rock and Roll’s estate earned US$100 million. Among Presley’s sources of income is Graceland, his historic residence in Memphis, Tennessee, which welcomed 600,000 tourists over the past year. Moreover, the estate of the legendary “Can’t Help Falling in Love” singer earns through other means, including sales of Elvis Presley merchandise and tickets.
  3. Ray Manzarek
    Total earnings this 2023: US$45 million
    It has been a decade since Ray Manzarek succumbed to cancer. However, this late The Doors keyboardist sold the rights to the rock band’s music to Primary Wave Music through living member, guitarist Robby Krieger. Billboard Magazine’s January 2023 report cited that the standalone publisher’s acquisition of The Doors’ rights to their craft comprised the famous rock band’s income, music publishing catalog, merchandise rights, trademarks, and recordings. This landmark deal led to Manzarek becoming the third highest-earning dead icon this 2023 with US$45 million in total earnings.
  4. Dr. Seuss
    Total earnings this 2023: US$40 million
    Theodor Seuss Geisel was a well-loved children’s writer and cartoonist. This 2023, he placed fourth in CEOWORLD magazine’s “The Highest-Paid Dead Celebrities of 2023” list. Dr. Seuss, as Geisel was widely known, posthumously earned US$40 million. His income mainly came from the sales of his classic children’s books, such as “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” and their newer releases. Furthermore, Dr. Seuss’s estate profits from letting movie companies and other business entities use well-known characters like The Cat in the Hat and The Grinch from the late author’s publications.
  5. Charles M. Schulz
    Total earnings this 2023: US$30 million
    For the past year, the estate of popular cartoonist Charles Monroe “Sparky” Schulz raked in a total of US$30 million. Schulz made a name for himself in the 1950s by creating the witty Peanuts comic strip that involved the world-famous beagle, Snoopy. Today, the Schulz estate still earns millions of dollars through commercial collaborations, such as a partnership with technology giant Apple.
  6. Prince
    Total earnings this 2023: US$30 million
    Fans adored Prince for his countless unforgettable songs like “Kiss” and “Purple Rain.” The deceased singer, songwriter, actor, and record producer still makes millions today through never-before-seen concert footage and his existing music. Unreleased tunes and posthumous studio albums also serve as income sources for the estate of the late multi-Grammy Award-winning musician, taking home US$30 million in earnings this 2023. This profit figure places Prince Rogers Nelson in a tied spot with cartoonist Charles M. Schulz in CEOWORLD magazine’s “The Highest-Paid Dead Celebrities of 2023” list.
  7. Whitney Houston
    Total earnings this 2023: US$30 million
    Whitney Houston’s estate earned US$30 million this 2023, securing the late “I Will Always Love You” singer the seventh position in CEOWORLD magazine’s list of highest-earning dead celebrities. Houston’s income was mainly derived from “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” This 2022 biographical musical drama movie grossed almost US$60 million worldwide last December. Moreover, the Houston estate profits from its partnership with MAC Cosmetics, which offers the MAC X Whitney Houston makeup collection.
  8. John Lennon
    Total earnings this 2023: US$22 million
    The Beatles founder John Lennon earned US$22 million posthumously this 2023. This profit figure makes him the eighth-wealthiest dead celebrity, per CEOWORLD magazine. Born John Winston Lennon, this Liverpool, England native made a name for himself for his talents as a singer, songwriter, and musician. Despite being dead for 43 years, Lennon continues to earn steady royalties for his share in The Beatles’ music and his solo musical catalog.
  9. Bob Marley
    Total earnings this 2023: US$16 million
    Legendary Jamaican artist Bob Marley made it to the ninth spot of CEOWORLD magazine’s 2023 dead celebrity rich list. The “One Love” singer’s estate earned US$16 million, which his popular music mainly generated. Marley passed away in 1981, yet his undying musical legacy lives on more than four decades later. His estate profits by letting commercial entities use the reggae legend’s name and pictures on various merchandise such as shoes, headphones, speakers, and even cannabis products.
  10. Bing Crosby
    Total earnings this 2023: US$14 million
    Traditional Christmas compilation albums often include Bing Crosby’s heartwarming tunes that evoke the holiday cheer. The estate of this notable singer, TV and radio personality, and actor has profited from his immense musical talent, despite his passing in 1977. Crosby’s legal entity overseeing his posthumous income still gets royalties from the use of the late singer’s songs and musical catalog. This year, Crosby’s estate earned US$14 million. CEOWORLD magazine’s “The Highest-Paid Dead Celebrities of 2023” list also includes other world-renowned icons who raked in millions of dollars despite being long gone.

CEOWORLD magazine’s “The Highest-Paid Dead Celebrities of 2023” list shows that the showbiz, literary, and other industries are lucrative, especially for those who possess the talents that the world appreciates. These commercially successful public figures’ fame and fortune did not cease despite their passing, as they left everlasting imprints in their fans’ lives that translated to profits for their estates.

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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Lifestyle and Travel - 10 legendary celebrities who, despite their passing, continue to earn millions in 2023
Sheena Ricarte
News & Features Editor at the CEOWORLD magazine. I'm a veteran digital storyteller with a record of creating best-in-class content and commerce experiences. Specialties: Implementing top-level content strategies. Maintaining high editorial standards in fast-paced environments. Managing external media partnerships and collaborations. Mentoring staff and managing teams of contributors. Promoting diverse and inclusive viewpoints. I am always on the lookout for unique stories that go beyond the grit and grind of everyday headlines.