The Highest-Paid Lifeless Celebrities Of 2022—A Author Earns Half-A-Billion From The Nice Past – Forbes

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Seems not even the boneyard is immune from inflation. The 13 departed artists, athletes and entertainers on this 12 months’s listing of the top-earning lifeless celebrities earned a file $1.6 billion, making it a 72% improve over final 12 months’s whole. It’s by far the largest 12-month haul since we began monitoring graveyard earnings in 2001 – and, for the primary time ever, the highest 5 made greater than $100 million every.
On the prime of the heap: J.R.R. Tolkien, the long-deceased writer of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The previous Oxford don, who died of pneumonia in 1973, earned $500 million from the sale of Center-Earth Enterprises, which handles mental property rights for movement footage, videogames, merchandise, and extra to Swedish gaming firm Embracer in August.
Following shut behind is basketball legend Kobe Bryant with $400 million from his property’s sale of his stake within the BodyArmor sports activities drink firm to Coca-Cola. It marks the biggest acquisition within the delicate drink agency’s historical past.
Elvis Presley could have left the constructing, completely, however the King of Rock N’ Roll continues to be an financial powerhouse. Forty-five years after his loss of life, Elvis’ property generated $110 million in earnings. The lion’s share was created from field workplace and merchandise gross sales at Graceland, Presley’s Memphis residence—simply $5 million of that got here from rights for Elvis, the Baz Luhrmann-directed biopic.
Total, the music of yesteryear is seen by buyers as a dependable earnings stream. Almost $700 million of the $1.6 billion in whole earnings got here from the estates of the 9 musicians on the listing, together with David Bowie ($250 million), Michael Jackson ($75 million) and “Hallelujah” songwriter Leonard Cohen ($55 million). A few of these earnings got here from one-time gross sales. The property of Toto drummer Jeff Porcaro, for example, offered his publishing and recording royalties for $25 million in November 2021. Others, like Beatles John Lennon and George Harrison stay mainstays on the listing attributable to their annual recurring royalty streams.
“Within the early days of rock n’ roll, corporations owned every part and fought with the artists’ representatives to realize management of their IP,” says leisure lawyer John Branca, who manages Michael Jackson’s property. “Now it’s swung again within the different path as artists become older, and are property planning, and tax planning, and promoting their IP again to the businesses.”
“It’s come full circle.”
Further reporting by Richard J. Chang, Kyle Henderson, Conor Murray and Emily Washburn.
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When Swedish online game firm Embracer introduced its acquisition of Center Earth Enterprises in August, they didn’t disclose the deal value, as a substitute opting to share they’d spent $788 million on six acquisitions together with Tolkien. However one intelligent hobbit informed Forbes that Embracer spent no less than $500 million for Center Earth Enterprises, a quantity Embracer didn’t refute. After the deal closes, Embracer will share the shire with a large number of different corporations who personal different items of Tolkien’s mental property, together with HarperCollins, Amazon, Warner Brothers/New Line, and the Tolkien Property, in what’s been described as essentially the most complicated IP rights cut up in historical past.
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The late L.A. Lakers legend had a 7% stake within the BodyArmor vitality drink and served on the corporate’s board previous to his 2020 loss of life. In November 2021, Coca-Cola agreed to purchase out the 70% of BodyArmor it didn’t already personal for $5.6 billion at an $8 billion valuation. Bryant’s property obtained a reported $400 million in proceeds from the sale.
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“Is there life on Mars?” the Skinny White Duke famously requested on 1971’s Hunky Dory. We nonetheless don’t know—no worries: Elon Musk is engaged on it—however the sale of David Bowie’s publishing catalog and masters to Warner Chappell in January generated sufficient earnings to make Main Tom jealous, to the tune of $250 million. Man Who Bought the World, certainly.
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The King benefited handsomely from Covid cooped-up vacationers able to deal with themselves to a trip at his Graceland mansion and resort. A minimum of $80 million of Presley’s earnings got here from tour tickets, exhibits, and merch, in keeping with sources near the property. The property didn’t make a ton straight off the smash Elvis biopic, however the hit movie is predicted to carry Presley’s earnings for no less than the subsequent 18 months as followers, new and outdated, look to personal their very own piece of the King. Even gross sales of Disney’s Sew plush animals dressed in Elvis jumpsuits are up from final 12 months.
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“The toughest working man in present enterprise,” simply retains working, though he’s lifeless. Major Wave, a New York-based unbiased music writer, snapped up the Godfather of Soul’s music rights, actual property, and identify and likeness. Brown’s property will reportedly use among the proceeds to fund tutorial scholarships for needy kids in perpetuity.
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With Covid restrictions lifted, the Jackson-themed Cirque de Soleil present in Las Vegas is again in motion and raking in cash alongside the King of Pop’s Mijac Music catalog. And there’s a brand new money cow on the town: MJ The Musical on Broadway, a jukebox retelling of Jackson’s story. By November the musical can have grossed $80 million, in keeping with a Jackson property supply, a formidable feat given the present premiered solely 9 months in the past.
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The “Hallelujah” crooner’s publishing and masters have been snapped up by Hipgnosis, a publicly traded music administration and IP agency helmed by Merck Mercuriadis, who has managed acts starting from Beyoncé and Elton John to Weapons N’ Roses and Morrissey. Cohen wasn’t overly bothered by cash issues whereas alive: After his supervisor “misappropriated” some $5 million within the mid-2000s, Cohen had lunch with the funding banker David Pullman of “Bowie Bond” fame at L.A.’s 4 Seasons. “I’m all labored up asking [Cohen] if he’s indignant,” remembers Pullman. “He goes: ‘No, what good would that do?’ The man was so Zen, it’s unbelievable.”
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The folks of Whoville lived in a world the dimensions of a speck of mud, Dr. Seuss as soon as wrote, with Horton the elephant graciously carrying their speck on a fluffy dandelion. These tiny Whos, alongside timeless characters together with The Cat within the Hat, The Grinch, and The Lorax generated over $16 million in ebook gross sales since final November, alongside a Netflix deal and merchandising.
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The drummer from 80s rock outfit Toto doesn’t have almost the identical identify recognition as the remainder of the lifeless celebs, however whereas dwelling he was an trade legend. Not solely did he co-write the platinum-certified music “Africa,” Porcaro was the go-to studio drummer for recording bigwig Quincy Jones and saved the beat on the best-selling album of all-time, Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Porcaro additionally collaborated with the likes of Steely Dan, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen. His publishing and recording royalties have been snapped up by Major Wave.
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Snoopy and the remainder of the Peanuts gang are as dependable at producing earnings as they’re at torturing poor Charlie Brown. However the nature of the sport is altering. For the primary time since 1965, traditional vacation specials “It’s The Nice Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” won’t be airing on free broadcast TV after Apple TV snapped up the rights for his or her paid streaming service (nonsubscribers will be capable of watch totally free on sure days and PBS may even stream the specials.)
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One of the crucial prolific Mexican composers and singers in historical past, Juan Gabriel’s penned some 1,800 songs in his lifetime, shifting an estimated 60 million albums which earned 2 Latin Grammys. Identified for his flamboyant performing model and vogue—assume plenty of sequins—his nickname was “divo of Juarez,” a reference to Gabriel’s hometown. In April, Gabriel’s property struck a take care of Common Music Group wherein the corporate will assign the singer’s post-2008 catalog to label subsidiary Virgin Music US Latin, whereas Common’s publishing arm will oversee the whole catalog.
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In 2022 the “Think about” singer made his common royalties from his time as a Beatle and his solo work. Moreover, an estimated $3.5 million was added to Lennon’s coffers from Beatles music rights secured by Disney for its Peter Jackson-directed Get Again, an epic docuseries rehashing the British group’s notorious remaining recording classes.
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The “quiet Beatle” likewise profited from the Get Again docuseries, including one other $2.5 million to his annual solo and Fab 4 royalties. Harrison’s property, together with Lennon’s, will get one other $2.6 million from the Beatles Cirque de Soleil present.

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This 12 months’s Lifeless Superstar rating contains pretax earnings from gross sales, streams, licensing offers and different sources between November 1, 2021 and October 30, 2022, in addition to property acquisitions made or introduced throughout the identical interval. We compile our numbers with the assistance of knowledge from Luminate, IMDbPro, NPD BookScan and interviews with trade insiders. Charges for brokers, managers and legal professionals are usually not deducted.

Credit: AP, Ronald Cortes/Getty Photos, Marty Lederhandler/AP, Michael Ochs/Getty Photos, David Redfern/Getty Photos, Chris Walter/Getty Photos, Jack Robinson/Getty Photos, Michael Tran/Getty Photos, John Bryson/Getty Photos, Jim McCrary/Getty Photos, Bettmann/Getty Photos, Max Scheler/Getty Photos, Keystone/Getty Photos.

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