Michael left this world millions of dollars in debt. Since he passed away however, the world is still hungry for his work, and Forbes magazine has listed him as the top of the list of highest earning dead celebrities. His earnings are said to exceed £175million, ($275million).
He has earned more than the other twelve deceased stars on the list combined. Still more impressive: His estate’s twelve month earnings was greater than the pooled earnings of this year’s two biggest living acts, U2 and AC/DC.
Michael’s posthumous earnings come from his share of the lucrative Sony/ATV catalog, the hit Sony film ‘This Is It’ and renewed fan interest in music, videos, and all things Michael. Since his death, Michael’s estate out-earned the combined incomes of twelve of the next best-earning departed stars, including Elvis Presley and John Lennon.
The total is also more than the pooled incomes of Lady Gaga, Madonna, Jay-Z and U2 – currently the four highest earning living pop stars.
Each made more than £30 million from tours and music sales over the twelve month period but even added together still falls short of Michael’s income.
Album sales and radio airplay accounted for £32 million, and sales memorabilia, a video game and a re-released autobiography another £32 million, according to a Forbes estimate. His estate was paid £38 million for ‘This Is It’, a film of the rehearsals for the 02 concerts, and has struck a deal for a show by Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. Other upcoming deals include the release of previously unheard music.
But it is a half-share in hundreds of songs by other artists, including The Beatles and Elvis, that generates the estate the most income, at £32 million to £64 million a year.
It has been said that the annual earnings of the estate will be tremendous, and Michael is expected to remain at the top of Forbes list for at least several years.
All of this information is phenomenal and although Michael’s aim was always to break records, this is one record that his fans would prefer to not be broken.