2007 Hot Property
Principals: Courtney Love
Licensees include: The National Entertainment Collectables Assn. (NECA) and Primary Wave Music Publishing
The story: Last year, Love sold a 25% stake in Nirvana’s song catalog to Primary Wave for $50 million, putting the deceased lead singer ahead of Elvis Presley on Forbes’ 2006 list of the top-earning dead celebrities.
Overall, the dead celebs licensing market was worth nearly a quarter-million dollars last year, according to Forbes.
And Love is looking to tap into it beyond just tunes, T-shirts and posters, licensing the name and likeness of her late husband to NECA, which has put it on everything from lunch boxes to small liquor flasks that double as key chains.
In fact, the New Jersey-based company even makes a Kurt Cobain action figure, featuring the lead singer — who, despite a large record contract, never positioned himself as a big proponent of commercial enterprise — strumming his left-handed Fender guitar and wearing the same striped shirt he had on in Nirvana’s iconic “Smells Like Teen Spirit” musicvideo.
POV: For its part, representatives for both the Kurt Cobain estate and Primary Wave insist the Nirvana tunes won’t be used for anything the artist wouldn’t agree with if he were still alive.
“We believe if we say yes to the right things, we can do both — make money and do the right thing for the catalog,” Love’s manager, Peter Asher, told Forbes.