Some celebrities continue to have a cultural impact long after they have passed away. Stars such as Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and Michael Jackson have lasting legacies that make money for their estates through licensing of their likenesses and copyrighted works. One such celebrity, if you can call him a celebrity, might surprise you. It is Bob Ross.
You might not instantly recognize Bob Ross by name alone. He was never the most famous person in the world. He probably was never one of the most famous 1,000 people in the world. However, if you see his picture, it is almost certain that you would recognize him.
Ross was the soft-spoken host of PBS's series The Joy of Painting. Yes, that guy.
Ross was the man who for years taught people how to paint fluffy clouds, mighty mountains and happy trees. He passed away two decades ago.
As the New York Times reports in "Bob Ross's Strange Afterlife," Ross has quietly amassed a large following since his death. His brand of licensed painting supplies continue to sell and reruns of his show are viewed online by millions of people.
The article does not say it, but it would be interesting to know what this has meant for Ross' estate and his heirs. Because of his post-death following, his likeness is extremely valuable. It is not clear if his estate plan covered what to do in the case of such an occurrence.
Nevertheless, one thing that is certain is the company bearing his name continues to do well.
What this illustrates is that it is prudent for even minor celebrities to provide contingencies in their estate plans regarding what to do in case they experience a surge in popularity after passing away.
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Reference: New York Times (Dec. 2, 2015) "Bob Ross's Strange Afterlife"