A joint Fermilab/SLAC publication

Dead 53 years, Albert Einstein still rakes in the dough

10/31/08
Parody by Sandbox Studio

Parody by Sandbox Studio

Just in time for Halloween, Forbes has released its annual list of top-earning dead celebrities. There in fourth place--behind Elvis Presley, cartoonist Charles Schulz, and actor Heath Ledger--is Albert Einstein, whose frowsy-haired image earned an estimated $18 million in royalties this year. In 2006, symmetry reported that Einstein was in third place.

Einstein--aguably the most widely recognized and most beloved scientist of modern times--is actually a staple of the list. (The UK's Guardian news blog playfully referrs to "Albert Einstein's Theory of Royalty Longevity.") He earned more this year than each of Marilyn Monroe, Dr. Seuss, Paul Newman, and John Lennon.

Says Forbes:

Albert Einstein probably never thought he would be earning money from making babies smarter. But Baby Einstein, a majority Disney-owned suite of learning tools for infants, keeps expanding. International licensing with Nestle's Japanese coffee brand, Charge, and an upcoming sneaker campaign with basketball player Kobe Bryant add to Einstein's rich portfolio of deals.

None of which should surprise readers of symmetry, who in the February 2005 issue found this ode to the great man's pervasive presence:

 "I Discovered the Theory of Relativity and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt"
by Judy Jackson

His mug’s on mugs,
Bears wear his hair;
Albert turns up everywhere.

His famed equation greets the eyes
From every form of merchandise;
T-shirts and ties he doth adorn.
Is there Albert Einstein porn?

Tots and geezers recognize him;
Every market sector buys him.
The world, it seems, will never weary
Of him and his relativity theory.

Year after year, folks take a likin’
To Einstein as a cultural icon.
Font of a vast commercial venture, he
Made Time magazine’s "Man of the Century."

Who’d have thought a patent clerk
Would rise above that line of work
To symbolize for humankind
The greatness of the human mind?

That hair, that tongue, that life, that brain–
Remind us of all we might attain.
Would Albert E. have found it rich
To have become the king of kitsch?

Take that, Andy Warhol! (#8 on the list, with a measly $9 million in earnings.)

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