Tag Archives: funeral

Do celebrities make money after they die?

michael jackson

In one word “yes”.  Following is the article recently released by Forbes that lists the highest paid celebrities who died this year.

While the Pearly Gates seemed to welcome an unusual amount of celebrities in the past year (David Bowie, Prince and Arnold Palmer, to name just three), the long-departed King of Pop had the time of his afterlife.

The March sale of Michael Jackson’s half of the Sony/ATV music publishing catalog, famous for its library of Beatles tunes, for $750 million puts him at the top of our annual ranking of the top-earning dead celebrities, an ironic finish given that many critics and even advisors once derided the catalog as a badly overpriced investment. Jackson’s total pretax payday of $825 million ranks as the biggest annual haul by any celeb dead or alive.

“He was always doing stuff that was the best, the greatest, the biggest,” says Jeff Jampol, who manages the estates of Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and others. “That was a big fight when he wanted to buy that catalog … it turned out to be one of the greatest investments ever.”

In 1985, Jackson paid $47.5 million ($140 million in 2016 dollars) to buy the Beatles-packed ATV publishing catalog. Ten years later, Sony paid him $115 million to form a 50/50 joint venture, then purchased his remaining half in March. In all, the sales (and accompanying distributions) gave Jackson’s estate, which is overseen by lawyer John Branca and music exec John McClain, a 30% annualized return on investment.

Peanuts creator Charles Schulz claims the second spot with $48 million. The cartoonist died of colon cancer 16 years ago, but lives on through the franchise—and its licensing revenue, boosted by last year’s well-received 3-D Peanuts movie. Golf legend Arnold Palmer rounds out the top three with earnings of $40 million, most of which was accumulated in the mortal realm, as he passed away just days before our cutoff.

Our set of 13 Halloween-spooky estimates are for pretax income from October 1, 2015, through October 1, 2016, before deducting expenses for agents, managers and lawyers. Sources include Nielsen SoundScan, Nielsen BookScan, PollstarPro, IMDB and interviews with estate experts.

Michael Jackson: The King Of Pop–and celeb earnings–dead or alive (Photo: Mike Powell /Allsport).

Recently deceased superstars Prince and David Bowie also rank high on the list. The Purple One passed away while still at the top of his touring game (grossing nearly $2 million per show) and sold more than 2.5 million albums over the past year, more than any other dead musician. Bowie, meanwhile, released his final album, Blackstar, just two days before his death; the ensuing sales spike helped him outsell Jackson and Elvis Presley (No. 4, $27 million) in the last year.

Presley’s total represents a 50% drop from last year’s figure (a change in how we accounted for Graceland ticket sales, not plummeting demand, accounts for the change). The King of Rock n’ Roll still moved more than 1 million albums on the year—most of them physical, not digital—remarkable for someone who’s been gone for nearly 40 years.

As for Jackson, the Sony/ATV payday gives him the last laugh over doubters. But a decade ago, he already knew what a good deal he’d made, as detailed in my book Michael Jackson, Inc. On a 2007 conference call, the King of Pop reminded Sony/ATV chief Marty Bandier of the acumen that had earned him a nine-figure return on paper by that point.

“See,” he told Bandier. “I told you I knew the music publishing business.”

13. Elizabeth Taylor ($8 million)
12. Steve McQueen ($9 million)
11. David Bowie ($10.5 million)
10. Bettie Page ($11 million)
9. Albert Einstein ($11.5 million)
8. John Lennon ($12 million)
7. Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel ($20 million)
6. Bob Marley ($21 million)
5. Prince ($25 million)
4. Elvis Presley ($27 million)
3. Arnold Palmer ($40 million)
2. Charles Schulz ($48 million)
1. Michael Jackson ($825 million)

You may not be a celebrity and you may not have an estate worth millions of dollars but you still need to do some planning for what you want to have happen to the assets you do have.  For more information about this topic, check our our website www.diesmart.com.

Prince’s Urn – Totally Unique 

princeThis past week, People Magazine revealed the first photos of Prince’s urn, one that is a totally unique as the man was himself.

While alive, Paisley Park in Minnesota was Prince’s home; as of last Thursday, it became a museum and memorial to him.  At that museum, his ashes are on display in a one of a kind urn that was designed by his sister, Tyka Nelson and his nephew President Nelson.  They partnered with Foreverence, a company that developed a scale model of Paisley Park itself.  It’s 14 x 18 inches and decorated with Prince’s famous symbol in his signature purple.

His ashes are sealed in the front column and, though it can’t be seen by the public, the facade “opens to reveal a miniature replica of Paisley Park’s grand atrium, including the singer’s signature purple Yamaha piano, white ornamental doves and decorative tile floor. The interior even includes real working lights.”

According to its website, Foreverence designs urns and memorials that “celebrate life, passion, and legacy”.  They’re “a timeless tribute as unique as the life it represents.” They certainly managed that for Prince.

You may not want such a unique resting place but you may want information about options that are available to you.  To find out more, go to www.diesmart.com.






Seven towns want their residents to become immortal!

cemeteryBet you never thought that there would be places where death is a crime.  Well, there are.  Seven cities in Italy, France, Brazil, Spain and Norway urge their citizens not to die.


  1. Sellia, Italy – The town has only 537 residents, the majority over 65.  The mayor decreed that getting sick was not an option.  If the residents died, it might kill the town as well.  Even though the ban is not enforceable, the town government encourages its residents to stay healthy.  Anyone who doesn’t get a yearly checkup will be fined.
  2.   Cugnaux, France – Because there were only 17 plots left in the town cemeteries, in 2007 the mayor decreed dying illegal for anyone who didn’t already have a crypt to be buried in.  The only available land for a new cemetery was on a nearby military air base.  However, the defense ministry did not want the town to bury its dead there.  Luckily, the defense ministry finally gave in and agreed to allow burials.
  3. Sarpourenx, France – In 2008, because of overcrowded cemetery conditions, the mayor forbid residents from passing on.  “Offender shall be severely punished.”
  4. Biritiba Mirim, Brazil – In 2005, there was such a shortage of space in the local cemetery that the mayor banned death.  Luckily, a new cemetery opened in 2010 so people are allowed to go on dying.
  5. Lanjaron, Spain – In 1999, this town faced a grave shortage.  So the mayor forbid his citizens to die until municipal officials could find space for a new cemetery.
  6. Falciano Del Massico, Italy – In 2012, this town decided to outlaw death as a way of prodding a neighboring town into letting it share cemetery space.  (The neighboring town had been charging non-residents more for a plot.)  As of 2014, the town was still fighting to get a new cemetery.
  7. Longyearbyen, Norway – It’s the world’s northernmost settlement and mostly a mining town.  In 1950, realizing that bodies in the local cemetery were not decomposing, the town stopped allowing new burials.  If you get sick and think you’re going to die, you’d better go elsewhere.

If you know of another town anywhere in the world that doesn’t allow death, we’d love to know about it.

For information about end of life planning, check out our website www.diesmart.com.

10 Tips A Funeral Home Won’t Tell You

adjectivesIn the past, we have written a lot about planning a funeral, the prepayment option and hints to save money. We recently came across a blog from urnsonline.com that we want to share with you. Click here to see what it says. The ideas are excellent ones and convey suggestions that you probably aren’t familiar with. Take a few minutes to read the blog, even if you’re not planning a funeral right now.   The tips will come in handy when you do.

For further information about funeral planning, go to www.diesmart.com.

The Mushroom Death Suit – almost ready for use

Mushroom myceliumWe’ve reported before on unique ways to dispose of someone’s body after death.  However, a friend found a new one that already has people lining up to use it – The Mushroom Death Suit.  The brainstorm of Jae Rhim Lee, it’s a burial suit that contains mushroom spoors.  They will be able to “eat” your body and neutralize its toxins after you’ve been buried.  The suit will prevent toxins in the human body from being released into the environment after death and is also intended to help deliver nutrients to plant roots more quickly and efficiently.

The first real user of this suit will be Dennis White, a 63-year-old man suffering from a neurodegenerative disease.  He hopes that this will make his death a greener process.

The Infinity Burial suit (the other name for this product) is available in pod form for animal burials as well.

Whether the suit will actually work in practice is yet to be seen…but it’s certainly an interesting idea.

For more information about traditional and non-traditional ways to dispose of a body after death, go to www.diesmart.com.