Monday, June 18, 2007

Cobain Beats Elvis as #1 Top Earning Dead Celebrity

Thanks to a partial sale of his song catalog, Kurt Cobain has vaulted atop Forbes' annual Top-Earning Dead Celebrities list. The previous king, Elvis Presley, is now No. 2 according to Forbes.

A nail in the casket is hardly the end for some stars. Instead, their work, as well as their iconic images, continues to appeal to fans who remember them and to those born long after they died.

The 13 icons on Forbes' sixth annual Top-Earning Dead Celebrities list collectively earned $247 million between October 2005 and October 2006. Their estates continue to make money by inking deals involving both their work and the rights to use their name and likenesses on merchandise and marketing campaigns. To land on this year’s list, a star needed to make at least $7 million during the above period.

How does a posthumous star land, and stay, on the list? Solitary events -- a successful film release or an estate sale, for example -- won't necessarily do it over the long term. Staying power comes from a body of work or simply an iconic image with long-lasting appeal. Elvis Presley has both, which has kept the King at or near the top of the list every year. And in 2005, entertainment mogul Robert Sillerman's CKX paid $100 million for an 85% share of Presley's estate.

But a one-off event can catapult a star onto the list -- or, in the case of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, to the top. While his music continues to sell, his debut atop the list is largely due to his widow, Courtney Love, who sold a 25% stake in his song catalog to publishing company Primary Wave for a reported $50 million. Thanks to this deal, audiences will hear much more of the angst-ridden rocker as his library graces the big and small screens. And in a turn the rock star likely never imagined in his lifetime, his music may one day be used in advertising campaigns.

source: msn money

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