Many celebrities make more money than the average American, and some of them are even making money despite being deceased. According to Forbes magazine’s list of top-earning dead celebrities in 2017, Bob Marley, who died in 1981, is fifth in the ranking, earning a total of US$23 million. In the 34 years since his death, Marley has been called the most recognized musician in the world, and his image is used to sell a variety of products, including t-shirts, shoes, headphones, and coffee. Marley/Tuff Gong Trading Stores do business at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and at Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, exposing visitors to Marley-themed merchandise as they arrive or leave the island. The Marley family operates Tuff Gong Recording Studios, one of the biggest recording studios in the Caribbean, and the Bob Marley Museum is a most-see attraction for reggae tourists from around the world.
According to Cedella Marley, the CEO of Tuff Gong and the oldest child of Bob and Rita Marley, the family’s branding approach is to “take the Marley image and just be ourselves as business people, we can let Daddy be the musician.” While she declined to provide the amount of overall earnings from the Marley estate, the range of products already on offer and plans to market a Marley-branded strain of marijuana and related accessories ensures that Bob Marley will remain among the highest-earning deceased celebrities in the future.
At the top of the dead celebrities list of earners is Michael Jackson who received US$75 million between October 15, 2016, and October 15, 2017. This amount reflects earnings came from the CBS special “Michael Jackson’s Halloween,” the new album “Scream,” the “Michael Jackson ONE” show performed by Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas, and Jackson’s share of the EMI music publishing catalog. Other deceased celebrities making far more than average Americans are Peanuts creator Charles Schulz ($38 million), Elvis Presley ($35 million) and the highest-earning dead female celebrity Elizabeth Taylor, ranked twelfth with $8 million.
Correction: We had the wrong date of Bob Marley’s passing.