What are you going to be worth when you're dead? A great number of people have spent a great deal of human and financial resources calculating the composition of, prior to the decomposition of, and the worth, or worthlessness of, the human body.
When we total the monetary value of the elements in our bodies and the value of the average person's skin, we arrive at a net worth of $4.50! (www.coolquiz.com/trivia)
The U.S. Bureau of Chemistry and Soils invested many a hard-earned tax dollar in calculating the chemical and mineral composition of the human body, which breaks down as follows:
Our most valuable asset is our skin, which the Japanese invested their time and money in measuring. Cut and dried, the average person is the proud owner of fourteen to eighteen square feet of skin, with the variables in this figure being height, weight, and breast size. Basing the skin's value on the selling price of cowhide, which is approximately $.25 per square foot, the value of an average person's skin is about $3.50.Additionally, it was discovered that our bodies contain trace quantities of fluorine, silicon, manganese, zinc, copper, aluminum, and arsenic. Together, all of the above amounts to less than one dollar!
This doesn't sound like a lot of money. However, some people are worth more dead than living. And many of these folks keep right on earning and earning. This is not a theme about the sad reality of a person's body. Instead, it is a report on top earning dead celebrities.
Forbes reported Michael Jackson's sudden death marked not only began a pouring out of grief around the world, but also caused fans to open their wallets to make him this year's top-earning dead celebrity with $275 million.(Lacey Rose and Dorothy Pomerantz, "Top-Earning Dead Celebrities," Forbes, October 25 2010)
Not only did Jackson make more money than all the other dead celebrities last year, but he also out-earned every person not named Oprah Winfrey on the Forbes Celebrity 100, which tallies the incomes of living entertainers. Jackson also brought in more than the year's highest-grossing music acts, U2 and AC/DC, put together. (Daniel Kreps, "Michael Jackson Named Top-Earning Dead Celebrity," Rolling Stone, October 26 2010)
"The cash flow on an annual basis is tremendous," estate lawyer Donald David told Forbes. "Sure, it's going to decline eventually, but it's going to be a huge amount in the foreseeable future. [Jackson's] kids are going to have grandkids before that money's gone."
Jackson was ranked third on last year's list with $90 million.But, during his lifetime, Jackson never even made it onto Forbes' Celebrity 100 list.
Of course, by now, everyone knows that Jackson died in his Los Angeles home on June 25 last year, shortly before a planned series of comeback concerts in London. The singer left behind three children and a debt of $500 million.
This year list makers needed to earn at least $5 million between Oct. 1, 2009, and Oct. 1, 2010. For the most part, earnings come from things like music royalties, book sales or the licensing of one’s image and likeness. To compile the list, Forbes spoke to agents, lawyers and other sources to estimate a star’s gross earnings (before taxes, management fees and other costs). (Lacey Rose and Dorothy Pomerantz, "Top-Earning Dead Celebrities," Forbes, October 25 2010)
Many dead celebrities make the bulk of their posthumous fortunes on licensing deals. Unlike their living counterparts, who can suddenly fall into a heap of trouble (such as Lindsay Lohan), dead celebrities have images--be they glamorous, rebellious or tough--that are unlikely to change.
Elvis Presley came in second, earning $60 million from admissions to his former home, Graceland, which is now a museum and tourist attraction in Memphis, Tennessee, a Cirque de Soleil show and more than 200 licensing and merchandise deals.
That leaves 11 positions open on the list. See if you can name any (all) of them without looking first. I will warn you in advance, the answers are not all easy. Report how many rich dead people you got correct. Don't worry about the exact order. This task is challenging enough. Answers are provided at the bottom of the page.
J.R.R. Tolkien - $50 million
Charles Schulz - $33 million
John Lennon - $17 million
Stieg Larsson - $18 million
Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) - 11 million
Albert Einstein - $10 million
Albert Einstein - $10 million
George Steinbrenner - $8 million
Richard Rodgers - $7 million
Jimi Hendrix and Steve McQueen - tied $6 millionAaron Spelling - $5 million