These are the world’s ‘richest’ dead celebrities for 2022, and one is from Montreal

Even dead celebrities make more money than you’re likely to see in your life. A new Forbes list tracked the income of deceased performers, athletes, and performers, finding that some stars continued to bring in dough from beyond the grave.

The top 12 earners earned a staggering 72% more in 2022 than the year before, showing that even the dead are not impervious to inflation, though strangely they seem to benefit from it.

That depressing detail aside, the list of the best “graveyard receipts” offers a fascinating glimpse into the most enduring creations that continue to captivate popular culture. Unsurprisingly, a number of singers made the list and one of them is from Montreal.

“Hallelujah” singer Leonard Cohen finished in the middle of the pack this year with a score of $55 million for his estate. The crooner hasn’t left the hearts and minds of many a Montrealer, not just because his face is on the side of two downtown buildings.

Calming and poetic, Cohen’s songs explore topics such as depression and isolation, which has certainly been a draw in these uncertain pandemic times. The singer is also buried in a cemetery near Mount Royal, where fans want to pay their respects. His grave is covered with stones, many of which are decorated, according to the Jewish tradition of commemoration.

The rock-covered grave of Montreal gem Leonard Cohen.@sofsilva.mtl | Instagram

The top earner on the list was JRR Tolkien, the author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the hobbit, which took in a Smaug-worthy hurdle of $500 million this year. The money didn’t just come from book sales: a video game company bought the rights to some of its material. The company didn’t shy away from spending hundreds of millions to own a piece of Tolkien’s intellectual property.

Basketball legend Kobe Bryant came in second on the list selling his BodyArmor energy drink shares. About $400 million went to Bryant’s estate after Coca-Cola bought the remaining shares. David Bowie’s estate banked with a $250 million down payment of what appears to be royalties from his music alone, followed by Elvis Presley, whose estate made about half of that. The so-called king made $110 million, mostly from visits to his Graceland amusement park. About $80 million of revenue came from merchandising and show sales alone.

Other deceased earners as of 2022 include:

  • James Brown ($100 million)
  • Michael Jackson ($75 million)
  • dr. Seuss ($33 million)
  • Jeff Porcaro ($25 million)
  • Charles Schulz ($24 million)
  • Juan Gabriel ($23 million)
  • John Lennon ($16 million)
  • George Harrison ($12 million)

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