“I’ve decided something: Commercial things really do stink. As soon as it becomes commercial for a mass market it really stinks.” — Andy Warhol
The Marilyn Monroe and Andy Warhol estates gross millions annually by licensing their names, work, and likenesses on merchandise, in advertising campaigns, and from the sale of memorabilia.
In recent years, the Andy Warhol Foundation has formed licensing agreements with Diane von Furstenberg swimwear, Levi’s, Pepe Jeans London (for an entire boutique featuring Warhol-inspired jeans), Paul Frank Industries, Uniqlo apparel, Burton snowboards, Philip Treacy hats, Rosenthal china, S.T. Dupont pens, Adidas, Bond no. 9 fragrances, Robert Lee Morris jewelry, Seiko, Loop, Maharishi collectibles, Barneys New York (for a “Happy Warholidays” campaign), and Campbell’s Soup Company.
Marilyn Monroe’s voice, name and likeness have been used in marketing campaigns for Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, Volkswagen, General Motors, Chanel, Gateway Computers, Mikimoto pearls, Levi’s, VISA, Aliz International Luggage, HMY Airways, Physicians Formula cosmetics, Calvin Klein Europe, Dom Perignon, and Absolut vodka.
Since 2001, Forbes has published an annual list of the top-earning dead celebrities. Over the past nine years, the estates of Marilyn Monroe and Andy Warhol have earned an estimated $56.5M and $73M, respectively. In 2009, the top 13 estates grossed a collective $886 million. It was the first year that Marilyn Monroe did not make the list.
In January 2011, a $50-million-or-so deal was struck between Authentic Brands Group and the National Entertainment Collectibles Association to purchase Marilyn Monroe’s likeness. Groundbreaking in scope, ABG now owns Marilyn’s name, and images of her lips and eyes. The agreement includes the marketing of Marilyn-branded products such as cosmetics and apparel, and even a reality TV show. There are also plans to turn Marilyn’s image into a digital avatar so that she may once again star in Hollywood movies. By inking this deal, ABG may reach new levels of celebrity licensing. Said Chairman & CEO Jamie Salter, “Marilyn Monroe is the brand.”