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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)

(Newser) – 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.


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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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