Celebrities like Kurt Cobain make millions with collectibles - even after death

Kurt Cobain committed suicide 18 years ago today in his Seattle home. The driving force of the Nirvana trio, Cobain's death shocked a generation of music fans.

And as those fans have stopped slacking, cut their hair and got steady jobs, we have seen a growing market for Cobain memorabilia.

In 2006, Cobain led Forbes' list of top earning dead celebrities with an income of $50m. He has since been kept off the top spot by no less than Elvis, Yves Saint Laurent and, most recently, Michael Jackson.

Jackson's death in 2009 sparked a huge clamour for the singer's collectibles, resulting in sales of $275m in 2010. Jackson's ability to divide opinion was again in evidence earlier this week when Fulham FC's chairman Mohamed Al Fayed unveiled a statue of the star at Craven Cottage. Jackson attended Fulham's 2-0 win over Wigan in 1999 as a guest of Al Fayed. It is not known what Jackson made of football in England's third tier.

Kurt Cobain in 1992, two years before his death

Fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent topped the list in 2009 following his death in 2008, further evidence that deaths of well-known figures can substantially increase the popularity of their memorabilia with investors.

Saint Laurent's 2009 earnings were boosted by the $28m sale of the designer's leather armchair in February of that year, achieving 10 times more than its estimate. The chair was produced by notable designer Eileen Gray between 1917 and 1919 and bought at the auction by Parisian art dealer Cheska Vallois.


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