Gay icon Elizabeth Taylor is the top-earning dead celebrity

Estate for late actress and AIDS activist earns $210 million

Gay icon Elizabeth Taylor is the top-earning dead celebrity
25 October 2012

Back in 1961, Elizabeth Taylor became the first star to be paid $1 million to star in a movie when she signed up to do Cleoptra.

Now, 18 months after the legendary star’s death, she is still earning big bucks.

Forbes magazine reported Thursday (25 October) that Taylor’s estate earned $210 million in the past 12 months surpassing the $145 million earned by the estate of her close friend Michael Jackson.

But Jackson is likely to out-earn Taylor next year since a bulk of the money came from a Christie’s auction of her famous jewelry collection as well as art, clothing and memorabilia. Taylor had spent several years preparing the auction and arranged for part of the proceeds from the sale to go to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation which was founded by the star in 1991 to assist with patient care.

The auction brought in $184 million while her White Diamonds perfume sold $75 million in retail in 2011. The remainder of her earnings are from property sales and residuals from her movies.

Starting with Cleopatra, the beloved gay icon had as part of her contracts 1o percent ownership of her films which included Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Sandpiper, The Taming of the Shrew, A Little Night Music and The Mirror Crack’d. Her estate also collects money from Around The World in 80 Days, which was produced by her late husband, Michael Todd, killed in a plane crash in 1958.

Taylor and Jackson were far and away the biggest earners among dead celebrities. In a distant third place was Elvis Presley with $55 million.

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