When news reached the world of Whitney Houston’s untimely death at the age of 48, it came as no surprise to estate planning professionals that her music began selling more strongly than it had in years.
The phenomena of an artist who dies only to have his or her estate suddenly increase in value is nothing new. It occurred most recently when Michael Jackson died in 2009. The same thing happened again with Ms. Houston’s death. Within 24 hours of her body being found in the Los Angeles hotel where she was staying prior to the Grammy awards, one of her most famous songs, “I Will Always Love You,” had reached number one on the iTunes list of singles sales.
Even though Ms. Houston was no longer dominating the charts as she did in the 80s and 90s, and her attempt at a comeback to relaunch her career had failed, many fans still held a strong emotional attachment to the singer and her work. As a testament to how much a deceased celebrities estate can earn after their death, you need only look at the Forbes list of top five deceased celebrity earners. In 2011, the estates of Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Charles Schultz and John Lennon earned a combined estimated $289 million even though some of those artists have been dead for decades.