Death Turns Jackson From Bust to Boom

'Tasteful yet profitable' marketing of singer's death rakes in $1B
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2010 4:17 AM CDT
Death Turns Jackson From Bust to Boom
A hat and sequined glove once belonging to Michael Jackson is displayed at the Motown Historical Museum at Hitsville U.S.A. in Detroit, Monday, June 21, 2010.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Estate of Elvis Presley, watch out: You may yet be eclipsed by Michael Jackson. Jackson died on the brink of financial collapse, but a year later his estate is booming. Last year he sold 8.3 million albums in the US—more than any other artist—and the posthumously released movie Michael Jackson's This Is It grossed $261 million worldwide. The estate has made an estimated $1 billion over the last year, but observers disagree on whether Jackson's on track to surpass Presley as the ultimate entertainment estate.

Death restored an image that had been tarnished by child abuse allegations: “His sainthood began the moment that he died,” a licensing expert tells the New York Times. “That’s been beneficial for the estate." The estate harnessed emotions surrounding Jackson's death "in a way that’s tasteful yet profitable," an entertainment industry insider says. But the Jackson boom might not prove sustainable: The Neverland ranch will be sold, leaving him without a Graceland-like fan destination, and Jackson left behind far fewer hit songs than Elvis. (Read more Michael Jackson stories.)

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