2017 has been a year stained by numerous high-profile deaths. Hugh Hefner, Chris Cornell, and Adam West are just a few of the celebrities that passed away this year. Their deaths though, do not mean the paychecks stop coming in their names. Here is a look at some of the top paid dead celebrities of 2017.
Honorable mentions to John Lennon, Charles Schulz, and Elvis Presley – all of whom earned north of $10 million in the past calendar year.
Michael Jackson ($75 Million)
Not only does the King of Pop lead all dead celebrities in earnings by more than $35 million, it’s also his fifth straight year atop this list. After tragically passing away in 2009, Jackson’s estate has seen a steady stream of high income. The majority of Jackson’s earnings this year stems from a newly released greatest hits album as well as the rest of his musical catalog. The Cirque du Soleil show that uses his music made him a great sum of money in 2017, but it was still one of the lowest-earning years for the artist. In 2016, the sale of half of Jackson’s SONY/ATV catalog netted him a total of $825 million.
Arnold Palmer ($40 Million)
It has barely been a year since golf lost its greatest icon. Palmer may have passed away on September 25, 2016, but he did not stop earning a significant paycheck. Of course, the seven-time Major champion is most known for his prestigious career in the PGA. Arnold-related products are sold in golf stores across the country. But the majority of his income this year came from the famous Lemonade/Iced Tea drinks that use his name.
Tom Petty ($20 Million)
Petty did not earn all of his income in 2017 after his passing. Before he was laid to rest in early October, Petty and the Heartbreakers were earning more than $1 million per show during their final tour. Like most high-profile musicians that pass away too soon, Petty saw an enormous rise in record sales immediately following his death.
Dr. Seuss ($16 Million)
Dr. Seuss was 87 years old when he passed away in 1991. He continues to make money today the same way he made it during his career – through his literature. Well-known classics like Oh, the Places You’ll Go! And The Cat in the Hat keep growing in popularity and most importantly to his estate, they keep selling. Today, Seuss reportedly has a net worth of at least $75 million.
Albert Einstein ($10 Million)
It is reasonable to believe that Einstein’s popularity has only increased since his death way back in 1955. Einstein’s face is commonly found on many products, from posters to t-shirts. The use of his image has helped him earn millions for more than fifty years. Einstein was believed to be worth only $1 million when he passed away, but that has changed drastically thanks to his iconic legacy.