Elizabeth Taylor’s last acting job was about a decade ago, but her lucrative line of fragrances will likely keep her estate smelling great long after her passing.
Her perfume brand, White Diamonds, remains a best-seller, and combined with other brands Passion and Passion for Men, Taylor’s scents brought in an estimated $69 million at retail worldwide last year, according to tracking firm Euromonitor International.
While that’s down about a fifth compared to two years earlier, a wave of recollections and renewedinterest in her movies could provide a short-term boost to sales. Experts say anywhere from 4 to 15 percent of sales likely flows through to Taylor’s estate in the form of licensing royalties.
Taylor, who died Wednesday at age 79, actively promoted her brands.
But White Diamonds, introduced in 1991 has become so popular, with an estimated $61 million in sales, that it is considered to have crossed over from celebrity status to mainstream perfume.
“This is beyond just Elizabeth Taylor at this point,” said Michael Stone, the chief executive of brand licensing agency The Beanstalk Group. “That’s why I think the fragrance will survive her death.”
Cosmetics company Elizabeth Arden Inc. remains her exclusive fragrance partner with a license through October 2022, according to its annual report, and can renew the deal in 20-year increments at its discretion.
Celebrity beauty products endorsed by stars such as Taylor, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey and Usher made up 22 percent of the company’s $1.1 billion in revenue last year.
“Our best tribute to Elizabeth Taylor will be to continue the legacy of the brands she created and loved so much,” Elizabeth Arden CEO E. Scott Beattie said in a statement Wednesday. He noted that Taylor’s line is “one of the most successful brands in fragrance history.”
The NPD Group ranked White Diamonds the 45th-best seller in the U.S. last year compared to all fragrances, including stalwarts like Chanel No. 5.
It’s unclear what will become of her estate, and her lawyer Barbara Berkowitz did not respond to messages seeking comment. Publicist Sally Morrison declined to give details.
Brand experts said the executors of her estate may already be fielding calls about new licensing deals that seek to capitalize on her glamorous lifestyle and image.
“You can just go right down the line of these female celebrities that are fashion icons, that are brands,” said Mark Roesler, the chief executive of CMG Worldwide, a rights management company whose clients include the estates of James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. “That’s certainly not going to die.”