Forbes.com announced today that Kurt Cobain has surpassed Elvis Presley as the top-earning dead celebrity. Cobain earned $50 million in 2005-06, while Presley pulled in a paltry $42 million. Rounding out the top five with Cobain and Presley were Charles Schulz, John Lennon, and Albert Einstein.
Below is a list of the top ten:
- Kurt Cobain
- Elvis Presley
- Charles Schulz
- John Lennon
- Albert Einstein
- Andy Warhol
- Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel)
- Ray Charles
- Marilyn Monroe
- Johnny Cash
In death as in life (with the exception of Oprah), male celebrities dominate the list, with only Marilyn Monroeâ€”commonly recognized for her sex appeal more than her acting talent (which was considerable)â€”sneaking in at the bottom.
Itâ€™s worth noting that Cobain had never before made the list, and that his inclusion this year was due largely to the management of his estate by his widow, rocker Courtney Love. This year, Love sold a 25% stake in the Nirvana catalog to a New York music publishing company.
Loveâ€™s management of Cobainâ€™s finances has been called into question since his suicide in 1994. But then her detractors have also accused her of murdering Cobain and taking credit for songs (on Holeâ€™s stellar Live Through This CD) that Cobain wrote for herâ€”so accusations of lousy accounting pretty much pale in comparison. While Loveâ€™s ongoing battle with addiction hasnâ€™t lent her much credibility, thereâ€™s always been more than a whiff of sexism behind accusations of her â€œstolenâ€ songs.
The deceased Cobainâ€™s placement on the Forbes.com list has already overshadowed this weekâ€™s announcement that Love is wrapping up production on a new solo album with the assistance of award-winning producer (and out lesbian musician) Linda Perry. Perry has been a strong supporter of Love and even brought her a guitar during Loveâ€™s last stint in rehab. The Love-Perry collaboration is likely to produce powerful results, and those who still think women canâ€™t rock won’t be able to give credit to Cobain this time around.