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In 2023, Forbes compiled a list of the world’s highest-paid dead celebrities. On the annual ranking, among the top 13 spots, 9 were musicians. From rock legends to pop icons and reggae revolutionaries, their music continues to resonate with audiences worldwide, generating substantial revenue for their estates and beneficiaries.

See below in this article who they are, what order they occupy on the list of the richest dead musicians.

9 – George Harrison Earnings: $14 Million

George Harrison’s estate continue to earn significant income from his contribution to The Beatles and his solo career. The Beatles catalog is one of the most lucrative in music history, generating revenue through album sales, streaming, licensing, and merchandise. Additionally, George Harrison estate benefit from the ongoing success of the Cirque du Soleil show “LOVE,” which features the music of The Beatles.

It is important to note that this income is managed by their respective estates and beneficiaries. George Harrison’s estate is managed by his widow, Olivia Harrison, and their son, Dhani Harrison.


8 – Bing Crosby Earnings: $14 Million

The Bing Crosby estate continues to earn royalties from his music catalog and the use of his songs. While Bing Crosby received artist royalties for “White Christmas” during his lifetime, those royalties are now paid to HLC Properties and Primary Wave Music. The estate earns an estimated $400,000 to $500,000 annually from his Christmas music alone.


7 – Bob Marley Earnings – $16 Million

Over 40 years after his death, Bob Marley’s music remains incredibly popular. Bob Marley wife and 11 children manages his estate, collaborating with various merchandising and marketing partners to share profits from his legacy. The commercial power of Bob Marley’s name drives the estate’s royalty earnings, though exact figures are not publicly disclosed.

2024 is projected to be an even more profitable year for Bob Marley estate with the release of the film “One Love.”


6 – John Lennon Earnings – $22 Million

John Lennon continues to earn substantial royalties from both his solo music catalog and his share of Beatles‘ music. This catalog keeps expanding: last year, the group’s final song “Now and Then” was released with the help of AI, and in 2024, Lennon’s fourth solo album, 1973’s “Mind Games,” will be reissued in various formats with remixed audio on July 19th.


5 – Whitney Houston Earnings – $30 Million

The Whitney Houston estate is experiencing its most successful year to date, thanks to the release of the biopic “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” which grossed nearly $60 million worldwide, and several brand collaborations, including a makeup collection with MAC Cosmetics. The estate is managed by Pat Houston, Whitney’s sister-in-law, and Primary Wave.


4 – Prince Earnings – $30 Million

Prince’s died in 2016, and three posthumous albums have been released. A remastered version of his classic 1991 album “Diamonds and Pearls” released as a box set, featuring 47 unreleased songs and hours of never-before-seen concert footage. This influx of revenue into his estate and Primary Wave, which owns a stake in his masters royalties, writer’s share, name, and likeness, enables the continued release of more of his music.


3 – Ray Manzarek Earnings – $45 Million

Unexpectedly, Ray Manzarek’s name also appears on this list. Primary Wave Music acquired a significant portion of the rights to The Doors’ iconic music catalog. The estate of the late keyboardist Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robby Krieger jointly sold their interests in the band’s recorded music, publishing, trademarks, merchandising, and associated income streams. This monumental acquisition encompasses The Doors’ vast catalog of hits across six studio albums.

This deal marks a significant shift in the ownership of The Doors’ musical legacy, but it’s important to note that it does not include the interests of drummer John Densmore and the estate of the legendary frontman, Jim Morrison. Both Densmore and the Morrison estate retain their individual stakes in The Doors’ rights, ensuring a complex and multifaceted ownership structure for the band’s musical heritage moving forward.


2 – Elvis Presley Earnings – $100 Million

Coming in at second place on the list, we shift to a different league. Elvis Presley’s estate doubled Ray Manzarek’s earnings, reaching an astounding annual amount of $100 million.

Following the tragic death of Elvis’s only daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, due to cardiac arrest in 2023, a fierce legal dispute arose between his ex-wife, Priscilla, and granddaughter Riley Keough over control of their respective estates. Ultimately, 34-year-old actress Keough, known for her role in “Daisy Jones and the Six,” emerged as the sole trustee of both estates.


1 – Michael Jackson Earnings – $115 Million

Over a decade after his death, the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, has reclaimed his throne atop the 2023 list of highest-earning deceased celebrities. His impressive $115 million earnings in the past year are a testament to his enduring legacy and the continued success of his artistic ventures.

The Broadway sensation “MJ: The Musical” played a significant role in this financial triumph, raking in a staggering $85 million in ticket sales alone. Additionally, the ongoing “Michael Jackson ONE” Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas continues to generate millions.


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