NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Eleven number one hits, six Grammy awards and now with her death.
Whitney Houston’s songs have suddenly become big sellers again and sources say Sony Music executives will meet this week to decide how to market her music.
Houston’s extraordinary voice sold 200 million albums and singles — making her one of the most successful singers of all time.
Yet just before her death, tabloids declared Houston was flat broke and was asking friends for handouts. Her representatives denied she had blown her fortune. The singer had signed a $100 million record deal in 2001.
“We know she made a boatload of money while she was alive. She earned probably a quarter of a billion dollars,” Forbes magazine’s Zack O’Malley Greenburg said. “Whether or not she actually died broke still is kind of being sorted out.”
Six years ago, Houston’s New Jersey mansion was nearly foreclosed on when she failed to pay property taxes. She has admitted to spending lavishly on drugs and partying in the past decade.
“My business is sex, drugs and rock and roll. My friends…we have a good time,” Houston once told ABC’s “Primetime.”
After Houston’s death Saturday, her Greatest Hits album shot to number one on Amazon and her most famous song, “I Will Always Love You,” was the top download on iTunes.
Houston’s estate is expected to take in about $10 million this year. However, since she didn’t write or own her songs, the bulk of royalties go to the songwriter and the publisher. They get about 8 cents every time one of their songs is played on the radio.
Dolly Parton wrote “I Will Always Love You” in 1973 and has made a fortune on it ever since.
The late Michael Jackson co-wrote and owned most of his music. Just last year, his estate took in $170 million.
“Whitney Houston’s estate is not going to approach Michael Jackson’s estate in terms of postmortem earnings,” said Greenburg. “She didn’t accumulate the kind of assets during her career that Michael Jackson did.”
Last fall, Houston starred in the remake of the film “Sparkle.” It is set to be released in August. Houston recorded two songs for the film — which were her final performances.