Bill Gates-owned Corbis, overseer of the world's largest archive of imagery, has paid an undisclosed sum for the Roger Richman Agency, one of the nation's largest agencies specializing in the promotio
(The Hollywood Reporter) -- Bill Gates-owned Corbis, overseer of the world's largest archive of imagery, has paid an undisclosed sum for the Roger Richman Agency, one of the nation's largest agencies specializing in the promotion of deceased celebrities.
Corbis has rights to 70 million photos and 30,000 hours of video footage that it licenses to news services, moviemakers and other clients. It has been building on its rights representation business that it started recently via partnerships with the Andy Warhol Foundation and Marvel Enterprises. The company also signed the estate of Liberace.
With the acquisition of the Roger Richman Agency, though, it instantly adds 50 celebrities to its rights representation unit, said Gary Shenk, senior VP of rights services at Corbis.
Some of the personalities represented by the 26-year-old agency are John Ford, Steve McQueen, Rod Serling, Johnny Weissmuller, Mae West, Bobby Darin and the Marx Brothers. Without offering specifics, Shenk said the most lucrative personality at the agency has been Albert Einstein.
Dead celebrities often can earn large sums of money. Shenk said Corbis' take in deals it strikes on behalf of its heirs is larger than what's typical for a Hollywood agency.
Elvis Presley tops Forbes magazine's latest annual list of the top moneymaking dead celebrities, earning $40 million, and Charles M. Schulz is next, with $35 million. Others in the top 20 include John Lennon, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Freddie Mercury and Frank Sinatra. No one represented by the Richman Agency cracks the top 20.
Shenk, who founded media licensing agency FlixMix for Universal Studios before joining Corbis two years ago, said his intention is to branch out into the representation of living celebrities.