Which Dead Celebrities Made the Most Money in 2020?

Wikimedia Commons, by Austin Green

Even though they’ve passed, the high earners of Hollywood are still collecting bank posthumously.  

Here are the top earners of 2020.

Marilyn Monroe

Monroe was just 36 when she died of a lethal overdose in 1962, but her earning power reigns supreme with nearly 100 brands using her name and likeness in 2020, earning her estate a cool $8 million.  

Freddie Mercury

The late Queen singer came back into the spotlight after the nearly billion-dollar success of the 2018 biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which spike music and merchandise sales so high that his estate collected $9 million this year.  


Though His Royal Badness died of an overdose in 2016, his music still flew off the shelves this year, selling the equivalent of almost 700k albums in the United States alone. The Purple One made his estate $10 million this year. 

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John Lennon

On the forty-year anniversary of Lennon’s murder, the late Beatle brought in $13 million for his family from music sales.  

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Bob Marley

The reggae icon died of cancer in 1981, but his music still resonates today… His catalogue was streamed over a billion times this year and merchandise with his likeness flew off the shelves for a whopping $14 million in posthumous income this year.  

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Kobe Bryant

The Lakers star and his daughter Gianna died tragically at the beginning of the year in a helicopter crash that shocked the nation. Fans snapped up any kind of Bryant merchandise they could, providing his wife Vanessa and surviving children with a $20 million-dollar nest egg.  

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Elvis Presley

The King died of a heart attack in 1977, but fans still flock to Graceland to pay homage to the late rocker, earning the estate a hunka, a hunka $23 million this year. 

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Arnold Palmer

The pro-golfer died of heart disease in 2016, but his well-documented love of iced tea mixed with lemonade earned his estate an astonishing $25 million from licensing his name and image to the Arizona Beverages branded drink line.  

Dr. Seuss

Seussville is still raking in the dough despite the legendary author’s passing in 1991. His book sales and film deals earned $33 million for the residents of Whoville.  

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Michael Jackson

The King of Pop had the foresight to invest in music before his death at 50 years old. In addition to his own music, Jackson acquired hits by Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, and Ray Charles. The investment earned his estate $48 million this year.  

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Ralph Kramden
Ralph Kramden
1 year ago

Gee, I wonder who they voted for. Probably Buyme.

Liberty Rising
Liberty Rising
1 year ago

I think a better question would have been “Which Dead Celebrities Voted for Joe Biden in 2020?”.