Filthy rich. Stinking rich. Dead rich? Mmm? it doesn't have quite the same ring to it. That being said, some dead are indeed filthy rich and, depending on timeline of their demise, may well stink.
Indeed, there are some poor ? or should I say rich ? souls who have been raking in the cash since they left this mortal coil. Now, while a bit a cash is certainly handy in the afterlife (just ask the Egyptians and the Greeks), it doesn't help if you can't get to any of it.
But it all works out rather nicely for your family.
While you rot away in that coffin or pluck your harp for a choir of angels, your dearly beloved may well be prostituting your image, name and creative endeavours to the highest bidder. Just think of it as that life-insurance policy you forgot to renew.
Oh, and there's just one more thing ? if you hope to make it onto the list of poor dead rich people, you need to dedicate your life to the entertainment of others. Failing this, a ground-breaking scientific theory may also do the trick. But only just.
Death may be the great equaliser, but that doesn't mean that you can't make a fortune out of it. We take a look ? in no particular order ? at some of the biggest dead earners of the past few years.
- Pegged: 1962
- Profession: actress/ sex symbol
- Coffin cash: in 2006 the reproduction of the blonde bombshell's image in advertisements and on merchandise raked in $8-million for her estate.
- Beneficiaries: Marilyn was survived by no one. She left 75 percent of her estate to Lee Strasberg, whose widow is now battling the children of photographer Sam Shaw for the rights to Monroe's image.
- Pegged: 1981
- Profession: musician/ Rasta
- Coffin cash: Reggae's biggest star made $7-million in 2006 and $4-million in 2007, thanks, in part, to the greatest hits album 'Legend', released three years after his death, which with more than 20 million copies sold is the best-selling reggae album ever.
- Beneficiaries: Marley's widow and his offspring (11 biological and two adopted children).
- Pegged: 2003
- Profession: musician/ jailbird (well, almost)
- Coffin cash: The Man in Black, who sold over 90 million albums during his 50-year career, pocketed $7-million in 2005 and $8-million in 2006. The money was made off record sales, the Oscar-nominated biopic 'Walk the Line' and an auction of some of his instruments.
- Beneficiaries: his children ? Rosanne, Tara, Kathleen, Cindy and John.
Theodor 'Dr Seuss' Geisel
- Pegged: 1991
- Profession: author/ illustrator/ poet
- Coffin cash: A regular on the 'rich dead' list, the 'Cat in the Hat' author made $10-million (2005, 2006) and $13-million (2007) out of his books ? 44 translated in 20 languages ? two blockbuster movies and memorabilia.
- Beneficiaries: the money goes to Dr Seuss Enterprises, which was founded by his widow Audrey Geisel in 1993. Oh?and occasionally the Grinch gets his hands on some.
- Pegged: 1996
- Profession: rapper/ gangster
- Coffin cash: the highest-selling rap artist of all time, released more posthumous albums (six) than those released while he was in the land of the living (five). This, together with a clothing brand (Makaveli Branded Clothing) and numerous documentaries/films have kept him in the money ? $7-million (2005) and $9-million (2007).
- Beneficiaries: 2Pac's mum Afeni Shakur, who manages his estate, set up the label Amaru Entertainment, which oversees the release of his music.
- Pegged: 1987
- Profession: artist/ pop icon
- Coffin cash: the man who coined the '15 minutes of fame' phrase has proved just how enduring fame can really be as the subject of many retrospective exhibitions, books and documentaries since his death. As always, his art is business, with his paintings, sculptures and drawings raking in $16-million (2005), $19-million (2006) and $15-million (2007) over the past three years.
- Beneficiaries: his estate is managed by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, a non-profit organisation dedicated to advancing the visual arts.
- Pegged: 1973
- Profession: author/ part-time wizard
- Coffin cash: arguably one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, the professor has remained popular in the 21st century thanks, in part, to the blockbuster adaptation of his 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy. His estate earned $7-million in 2006 from book and DVD sales.
- Beneficiaries: his children
- Pegged: 1955
- Profession: scientist/ genius
- Coffin cash: The only non-entertainer to crack the list, Einstein makes more money off his eccentric look than his theory of relativity. Image licensing and the use of his name in Walt Disney's Baby Einstein line of toys and videos earned the Einstein estate $20-million in 2006 and $18-million in 2007.
- Beneficiaries: the rights to Einstein's name and image belong to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
- Pegged: 1980
- Profession: musician/ enemy of the (US) state
- Coffin cash: the Beatles continue to sell more than a million discs in the US every year. Lennon memorabilia also brought in some of the $44-million he earned in 2007 (2006: $24-million, 2005: $22-million).
- Beneficiaries: Lennon's widow Yoko Ono controls his estate.
Charles M. Schulz
- Pegged: 2000
- Profession: cartoonist/ Charlie Brown
- Coffin cash: although the Peanuts gang still appears in 2400 newspapers around the world, a significant chunk of the $35-million (2007) earned by Shultz comes from Snoopy image licensing.
- Beneficiaries: his family through Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates.
- Pegged: 1977
- Profession: musician/ gilded jumpsuit model
- Coffin cash: The King takes his rightful place at the top of the 'rich dead' list raking in $49-million (2007) for his music and undeniably cool image. His dire films don't count.
- Beneficiaries: in 2005 Robert Sillerman's CKX bought a 75 percent stake in Elvis' estate. The remainder goes to his daughter Lisa Marie Presley.