CEO stresses value of Whitney Houston's image

Whitney Houston fans, Lawanda Howkins, left, and Melanie Braggs honor her memory at a candlelight vigil in Leimert Park in Los Angeles on Monday, Feb. 13, 2012.
AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

History has shown us that a pop star's death is about more than just loss - it can sometimes mean big bucks.

In the case of Whitney Houston, however, the payoff may not be as high as other deceased stars because she did not write, compose or publish the various songs she sang.

Whitney Houston's financial worth after death

Mark Roesler is the chairman and chief executive officer of CMG Worldwide. His company represents and protects the images of hundreds of legends, from Babe Ruth to Marilyn Monroe. Roesler said the value of her estate is hard to estimate at the moment, but that she will only be receiving artist royalties for the songs she sang.

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Her image, though, may be one of the most bankable assets the Whitney Houston estate has, Roesler said. "Whitney Houston is one of the most recognized faces in the world, certainly, probably the most recognized face at the moment in the world," he said. "And I think what you're going to see for future generations, let's take a James Dean or a Marilyn Monroe or people like that, those personalities have been deceased for a quarter of a century to 50-plus years, and you still see the interest in these personalities around the world."

The interest in the stars and how they can live on today through audio, video and other recording methods keep interest alive in the stars, Roesler said.

"People are not going to forget about her," he said. "The definition of a career today is much different than what the definition of a career was a generation ago. The types of media that are out there, from print to television to the internet, has the ability to keep some of these personalities alive for future generations. At the end of the day, it's the interest that these people around the world have in people like Michael Jackson to Elvis Presley to Marilyn Monroe to James Dean. And the interest in these people does not wane with their passing. Sometimes the untimely and tragic nature of the way they passed only contributes to the interest and the ability of these personalities and their respective estates to earn significant sums of money."

But where do those earnings go after death?

Many are concerned about the welfare of Bobbi Christina, Houston's daughter. However, the earnings may not necessarily go to her. Whoever is named in Houston's will will benefit, Roesler said.

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"We do understand that there is a will," Roesler said. "What we're talking about here is a very valuable set of intellectual property rights and these intellectual property rights as opposed to tangible assets, (such as cars and homes)."