Current artists like Jay Z and Kanye West still have nothing on America’s most revered King of Pop, Michael Jackson, who has made more than $700 million since his death in 2009, Forbes reports. According to the influential business magazine, that is more than Jigga, West and Taylor Swift have earned combined—a paltry $544 million—since that same year.
It is also more than any other artist, dead or alive, has made during that period, and the trend is not expected to stop anytime soon, with his posthumous album Xscape debuting at No. 2 on the charts, and his name and image constantly referenced.
Forbes points to Jackson’s iconic and timeless music, which, of course, skyrocketed in popularity immediately after his death, as the obvious explanation. By the end of 2009, he had sold more than 8 million albums in the U.S. alone. This prompted Sony to push for a new 10-year record deal with the artist’s estate for $250 million and the release of “new” music from beyond the legendary singer’s grave.
“They are no longer here to give performances or interviews,” entertainment attorney Donald David, who has represented the interests of the late Tupac Shakur. “Thus, the secret is to keep the deceased star in the public’s mind.”
Jackson was also a businessman, with a 50 percent stake in the Sony/ATV music catalog, Forbes notes, which pushes out bonuses in the eight-figure range for his estate. The shrewd entrepreneur also made a point of retaining his own publishing rights throughout his great career, adding millions per year to his fortune.
Read more at Forbes.