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October 26, 2006

Cobain is the New King But Warhol Makes the Most Bling

Andy Warhol Professor Mark Sample on The Society of the Spectacle points out that the names of rich, dead celebrities do not seem to have lost their appeal. According to Forbes, the top 13 dead celebrities earned a total of $247 mil last year. Of special interest is the fact that this year Kurt Cobain out earned Elvis Presley, $50 mil to $42 mil.

Einstein’s name ($20 mil) has a great deal of brand equity, as evidenced by Disney’s Baby Einstein range of books and videos. And of course Marilyn Monroe’s name still has a cachet. These names are really cultural icons, names that became top brand names.

Prof Sample also leads us to a New York Times article that profiles the Andy Warhol brand name. Warhol was an artist who really wanted to be known as a brand, as a commodity, and he seems to have been very successful at being just that even after death.

has 40 licenses for products that earn it $2.5 mil per year; retail sales of Warhol products are somewhere between $40 mil and $50 mil. Now, you can make your own Warhol art and unabashed fakes of Warhol paintings featuring Kate Moss are being bought for staggering sums.

There is an exhibition of his late art on in NY right now, in fact. Not bad for an artist who has been dead for almost 20 years. The Art Law blog quotes the Times article thus: “…he would have been amazed to see what has developed.”

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Posted by William Lozito at October 26, 2006 1:15 PM
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