The Elvis Presley economy

Photograph of Elvis Presley

Four decades since his death, Elvis Presley is still big business. To mark the annual contest in Birmingham, Europe’s largest Elvis tribute, taking place this weekend, Director examines the enduring bankability of the King 

The King is 40 years dead come August, but the Elvis economy lives on. His estate raked in a whopping $55m (£43m) in 2015, second only to Michael Jackson in Forbes’s list of artists’ posthumous earnings.

From 6–8 January, more than 80 tribute acts will gather at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole hotel to pay homage at Europe’s biggest Elvis tribute competition. From his Graceland estate to music royalties, Presley’s fortune is now worth an estimated $400m. Here’s a breakdown of his enduring earning power.


Photograph of tourists outside Graceland to illustrate earning power of Elvis Presley

Presley’s vast fortune is largely thanks to ticket sales for Graceland – his former home in Memphis, Tennessee. First opened to the public in 1982, the mansion has more than 500,000 visitors a year and is now a National Historic Landmark in the US.

It is the second-most visited private home in the US after the White House and is estimated to generate $150m annually for the Memphis economy.

Music sales

Picture of the Elvis Presley Wonder Of You album

Presley broke the world record for the most number one UK solo albums in October 2016 with the release of Wonder of You, beating Madonna to the top spot. According to the Graceland website, he has sold more than one billion records globally.

Although it’s unclear how much of the $55m that he earns annually is from music sales, his new album is a follow-up to the 2015 If I Can Dream with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, which sold more than 1.5 million copies worldwide.

Name and image

Photo of Elvis Presley T-shirts

Authentic Brands Group – which also owns the image rights to Marilyn Monroe – bought his intellectual property rights from Core Media Group in 2013 for an undisclosed sum.

The company now controls Elvis Presley Enterprises, which manages licensing and merchandising rights to the late singer’s image, name and likeness – worth an estimated $32m a year.


Photograph of an Elvis Presley jump suit

There is a huge market for Elvis memorabilia, with collectors across the globe bidding for items that once belonged to the King. Graceland has held several auctions to raise money from the sale of his possessions, including an auction in October 2016 that raised more than $1m.

Items included a jumpsuit Presley wore on stage in 1973 that sold for $325,000 and a complete set of his fingerprints from a 1970 Beverley Hills Police Department application for a permit for carrying a concealed weapon, which sold for $30,000.

For more on the Elvis Presley contest

About author

Hannah Baker

Hannah Baker

Hannah Baker is deputy editor at Think Publishing. Previously she worked as a features writer and sub-editor for Director magazine

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