Of the dead and how they make a living

While the ongoing recession has turned things in the World’s financial markets topsy-turvy, it’s still a bull-market in the land of the dead.
Michael Jackson, the King of Pop (dead), is richer than most living celebrities
Michael Jackson, the King of Pop (dead), is richer than most living celebrities

While the ongoing recession has turned things in the World’s financial markets topsy-turvy, it’s still a bull-market in the land of the dead.

Death is indisputably a bad thing. Each year it takes our beloved ones and of course our enemies too. Literary death puts an end to ones life.

An end to all our senses; sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch – basically it disconnects one from his/her contribution and connection to the world of the living.

However, some dead legends still have some connection with the world of the living and they still have a lot to contribute.

They made a lot of money throughout their respective careers and they left behind unbeatable legacy that we all struggle to imitate during our life times.

A list Forbes.com produced in October last year, shows that the dead too can really make good money.

The icons spectrum stretches across all disciplines – authors, artists, cartoonists, producers, singers, songwriters and scientists among others.

Famous names on this list produced every year in October includes: Singer and Actor Elvis Presley also dubbed “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, Cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, Scientist and Noble laureate Albert Einstein, Television Producer Aaron Spelling, Children’s Author Dr. Seuss, Artist Andy Warhol, Actor and Philanthropist Paul Newman.

The total combined income of the 13 top earning dead celebrities in 2008 in the United States alone was $194m – enough money to fund the entire budget of Rwanda’s Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and Ministry of the East African Community altogether for six months.

Among these millions, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll comes top with an income of $52m per year, Einstein is forth with $18m per year, the lone lady on this list and actress Marilyn Monroe is number nine with $6.5m and number thirteenth is hip-hop singer Marvin Gaye with $3.5m.

This year’s newcomer Michael Jackson alias MJ alias the ‘King of Pop’ is an added asset in the ever thriving business of the “Rich-dead club”.

According to his former lawyer John Branca, MJ’s earnings six months after his death are expected to be $200m – making him number one richest fellow in the boneyard.

For the sake of comparison, this income outweighs that of some living popular artists such as Justin Timberlake and Madonna who last year made $44m and $40m respectively.

It surpasses the annual salary of the most well paid sports professionals. Brazilian footballer Ricardo Kaka is paid $12.8m, Switzerland tennis player Roger Federer gets $41.8m, the world class boxers takes home $50 most.

Formula One Racing, Baseball, American Football, Basketball, Golf, Ice Hockey, Cricket, Rugby and Athletics among others don’t pay anything close to what MJ or Elvis Presley earns.

As if death would lead to economic prosperity than life; some of these stars make more money now that they are dead than when they were still alive.

Most probably because they lived a lavish lifestyle full of uncontrolled spending behaviours in that whatever they earned, they spent.

The most vivid example is MJ. At the time of his death in June this year, his earnings were at a low ebb – spending between $20m and $30m more than his annual income, which led to hefty debts of $500m.

This is a guy whose hotel suites cost was $10,000-a-night, wore a $2m Beverly Hills jeweller watch and bought a bottle of perfume at $10,000 as a gift to a 77-year old pal Elizabeth Taylor.

You may wonder how these specific dead people are able to make money of all deceased people you know. Well, it all depends on the investments one makes while he/she is still alive.

They are everywhere in every society – both at high and low economic profiles.

While it is not for every dead man to leave behind an investment that gives an annual return of millions of dollars, it is a common norm among Rwandans to leave behind heritage.

Mostly cattle, farmland, or buildings, which if is well looked after would result in good returns.

Unlike businessmen whose income is generated through investments such as: Real estate, Stock Exchange, Bond, Corporate banks and many more, these guys’ revenue comes from; merchandise sales, new ventures, artistic creations, film revenues, biopics, publishing deals and licensing deals to mention but a few.

Nevertheless, they make a lot of money but they have no opportunity to spend even a penny of it. Consequently, it is better to be a living-poor than being a dead-tycoon.


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