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The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll is still making money. Elvis Presley died in 1977. In the time since his death, his estate has continued to profit from the late star’s music sales and visits to the Graceland mansion-turned-museum.

Elvis’ estate is still so profitable four decades after his death that the is the fifth highest-paid dead celebrity of 2020. And as it turns out, his estate made more money this year than the singer had the year he died.

American singer Elvis Presley performing on tour | Metro Goldwyn Mayer/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images
American singer Elvis Presley performing on tour | Metro Goldwyn Mayer/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Elvis Presley died in 1977

The iconic musician grew up into a poor family in Mississippi in 1935. His family later moved to Memphis, where he then got involved in the Beale Street music scene, which was famous for its blues music. He got his big break when Sun Records head Sam Phillips showed interest in him after a recording session at the studio, and his career only went up from there.

Elvis shot to fame in 1956 after getting a record deal with RCA Records. His first album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts, marking the first rock ‘n’ roll album to do so, and stayed at No. 1 for 10 weeks. And the rest of this debut year consisted of a slew of successful song releases, countless television appearances, live performances, and his debut film Love Me Tender.

In 1957, the 22-year-old star bought Graceland for just $102,500 (which would be just shy of $1 million in 2020, when accounting for inflation). He spent the next two decades becoming one of the most successful recording artists of all time. He died on Aug. 16, 1977, of a heart attack. He was 42 years old.

According to Celebrity Net Worth, at the peak of Elvis’ success, he would make $1 million per performance. He had 35 No. 1 singles and 21 No. 1 albums throughout his career. Although Elvis is still the best-selling solo artist of all time, but he wasn’t making nearly as much money as one would think by the time of his death.

Posed studio portrait of Elvis Presley | RB/Redferns

What was Elvis’ net worth when he died?

According to Celebrity Net Worth, when Elvis died, he was only worth $5 million. Accounting for inflation, that would be around $21 million now ($21,484,158.42 to be exact). Of course, $5 million and $21 million are no small sums, but given that Elvis would make $1 million per performance, he should have been worth much, much more by the time of his death.

Elvis’ net worth was only $5 million in 1977 because of all of his spending. He lived a lavish lifestyle, as the most successful person in music is wont to do, and that lifestyle came with a hefty bill. The star would have hotel rooms remodeled to mimic the interior of Graceland while he was on tour, he spent thousands updating his family’s home on the grounds of Graceland, he foot every bill when he and his close group of friends (known as the “Memphis Mafia”) partied, and he had a collection of expensive Cadillac cars (which he eventually started selling near the end of his life).

His divorce from Priscilla Presley was also quite expensive, costing $725,000 outright on top of child support, 5% of the earnings from his publishings, and half of the money made from the sale of their Beverly Hills home. Elvis also had a drug addiction, which contributed heavily to his spending and eventually led to his early death.

He left his fortune to his father, his grandmother, and his then 9-year-old daughter Lisa Marie Presley. His father and grandmother died, leaving the young Lisa Marie in charge of the estate. Because of her age, her mother, Priscilla, took charge of the estate. Elvis and Priscilla remained friends after their divorce, so she took careful care over his fortune, which had dwindled down to $1 million after taxes on Graceland and its upkeep were accounted for. Priscilla turned Graceland into the museum it is now and created Elvis Presley Enterprises. Over time, these actions took her ex-husband’s fortune from $1 million to $100 million.

Rock and roll singer Elvis Presley with his wife Priscilla Beaulieu Presley and their 4 day old daughter Lisa Marie Presley
Rock and roll singer Elvis Presley with his wife Priscilla Beaulieu Presley and their 4 day old daughter Lisa Marie Presley | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Priscilla Presley Rebounded From Elvis With Robert Kardashian

Elvis’ 2020 net worth

According to Forbes, Presley is the fifth highest-paid dead celebrity of 2020. Still the most successful solo artist of all time, his continued music sales combined with the millions of dollars Graceland brings in a year has made his 2020 net worth $23 million. The outlet notes that Graceland typically brings in $10 million annually, but the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic required the museum to close for two months. It’s now running again, but at limited capacity.

Lisa Marie inherited Elvis Presley Enterprises when she turned 25 in 1993, and Graceland was named a National Historic Landmark in 2006. Priscilla’s smart decision to create Elvis Presley Enterprises and transform her former home into a museum locked in her ex’s post-mortem earnings.