They are no longer alive, but they continue to be among the world’s highest earners. They cut across artists, athletes, and entertainers who were at the top of their respective fields. For the first time, each of the top five people on Forbes’ 2022 list of highest-paid dead celebrities earned more than $100 million.
According to Forbes, the highest earner on the list earned a record $1.6 billion. According to Forbes, “it’s by far the largest 12-month haul since we began tracking graveyard earnings in 2001 – and, for the first time ever, the top five each made more than $100 million.”
The list profiled 13 deceased people, including the following Blacks. Below are the top-earning dead Black celebrities of 2022, per Forbes.
Kobe Bryant: $400 Million
Died: January 26, 2020 (aged 41)
According to Forbes, Kobe Bryant, the late L.A. Lakers legend, had a 7% stake in the BodyArmor energy drink and served on the company’s board before his 2020 death.
In November 2021, Coca-Cola agreed to buy out the 70% of BodyArmor it didn’t already own for $5.6 billion at an $8 billion valuation, as per Forbes. Also, Bryant’s estate received a reported $400 million in proceeds from the sale.
James Brown: $100 Million
Died: December 25, 2006 (73)
Forbes described him as the “hardest working man in show business.” It said, Primary Wave, a New York-based independent music publisher, snapped up the Godfather of Soul’s music rights, real estate, and name and likeness. Brown’s estate will reportedly use some of the proceeds to fund academic scholarships for needy children in perpetuity.
Michael Jackson: $75 Million
Died: June 25, 2009 (aged 50)
Michael Jackson, according to Forbes, is the third highest Black earner, raking in $75 million. With Covid restrictions lifted, the Jackson-themed Cirque de Soleil show in Las Vegas is back in action and raking in money alongside the King of Pop’s Mijac Music catalog, according to Forbes.
“And there’s a new cash cow in town: MJ The Musical on Broadway, a jukebox retelling of Michael Jackson’s story,” the magazine writes. By November the musical, which premiered nine months ago, will have grossed $80 million, a Jackson estate source told Forbes.
How The Earnings Were Calculated?
According to Forbes, this year’s dead celebrity ranking includes pre-tax earnings from sales, streams, licensing deals and other sources between November 1, 2021, and October 30, 2022, as well as estate acquisitions made or announced during the same period.
“We compile our numbers with the help of data from Luminate, IMDbPro, NPD BookScan and interviews with industry insiders. Fees for agents, managers and lawyers are not deducted,” Forbes said.