Yves Saint Laurent tops list of wealthiest dead celebs

Yves Saint Laurent was the world's top-earning dead celebrity this year. But he faces stiff competition...

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

The French fashion guru, who passed away last year with brain cancer, has topped the Forbes list of earnings among deceased celebrities, with a total of $350m. Musical duo Rodgers and Hammerstein came second, with $235m, followed by new entry Michael Jackson, with $90m.

There's a lot of life in these numbers. Taken together the top 13 grossed a staggering $886m. While you can't take money with you, it seems there's nothing stopping you raking in astronomical sums even once you're six feet under.

Yves Saint Laurent has certainly done all right in the year since his death. The designer scooped $350m when the bulk of his estate was sold off via Christie's. His art collection alone, which went down as the art sale of the century, took more than £317m. Rodgers and Hammerstein also benefitted from a one-off income, when the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organisation was bought by Imagem Music Group. The pair made $235m from that sale and the rights to music for shows like Oklahoma, South Pacific and The Sound of Music.

He may be languishing in third, but if earthly wealth still carries any weight in the spirit world then Jacko must be looking down, grabbing his ethereal crotch and letting out a high-pitched ‘ee-hee' right now. While he chalked up a comparatively paltry $90m, the former King of Pop is the one member of the top three who is well placed to keep earning at this level. He's shifted nine million albums since he died in June. Then there's merchandise and memorabilia, as well as royalties from his stake in the Sony ATV catalogue, which includes music by such artists as the Beatles and Bob Dylan.

Indeed, there's a host of ways in which a celebrity can keep the cash coming in these days, even after their last breath has left them. Their living output is just one part of it. As one example, Coca-Cola is in talks with the owners of Johnny Cash's rights to use computer generated footage of the singer to promote Coke Zero. It makes sense - dead people still carry cultural cachet, and their legend may even grow stronger after they're gone. Plus you're not going to have Johnny Cash appearing in the red tops having drunkenly swung at the paparazzi outside Chinawhites at three in the morning.

We can't see Jacko lying long before he's bombarding us with ads for everything from make-up to men's tissues. Whatever happened to resting in peace?

In today's bulletin:

Union threatens longer postal strikes as talks collapse again
Shell shock as profit slump forces job cuts
Yves Saint Laurent tops list of wealthiest dead celebs
Editor's blog: Lemonade brews up storm State-side
Non-execs in the firing line during downturn

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