Aug. 10, 2012 at 5:55 PM ET
It’s been a tough year for celebrity couples. From Katy Perry and Russell Brand to Heidi Klum and Seal to Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher and, ultimately, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, the love affairs of the rich and famous seem to be falling apart everywhere these days. Still, there are some couples out there in Tinseltown and beyond who have not only managed to stay strong but are also laughing all the way to the bank together.
Take Beyonce Knowles and Jay-Z, for example. Last year’s runners-up on the list of The World’s Highest-Paid Celebrity Couples, the duo has now climbed one spot to top this year’s ranking. Knowles, who took a break from her hectic touring schedule in 2011 to give birth to daughter Blue Ivy Carter, still collects big paychecks from old hits. Besides, the singer’s new album went platinum in the U.S., not to mention her non-musical ventures and endorsement deals, which all helped to bring her total earnings between May 1, 2011 and May 1, 2012 to $40 million, according to data from the latest Celebrity 100 list.
And as the male half of music’s first couple, Jay-Z isn’t far behind his wife. The hip-hop mogul made millions from "Watch the Throne," his musical collaboration with pal Kanye West, and even more from the tour that followed. Add to that a bevy of non-musical enterprises such as ad firm Translation and cosmetics company Carol’s Daughter and the result is a staggering $38 million that he has brought home in twelve months, putting the couple’s annual income at $78 million.
Coming second on the list are last year’s winners Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady. The 32-year-old supermodel remains an unparalleled force within the fashion industry, racking up modeling gigs, endorsement deals and independent licensing ventures that bank her some $45 million a year. Brady, on the other side, this year became just the second quarterback after John Elway to lead his team to five Super Bowls, only to be defeated at the hands of the New York Giants and failing to win a fourth ring.
Don’t feel sorry for him, though. Apart from his four-year, $72 million contract extension with the New England Patriots that runs through 2014, Brady is also following on his wife’s footsteps and signing modeling gigs with the likes of Under Armour and UGG Boots. On the field and off it, he made $27 million, hauling a total of $72 million along with Bundchen between May 2011 and May 2012.
The other royal couple from England, David Beckham and Victoria Beckham grabbed the third place on the list. Still strong on his hard quest to popularize soccer in America, Beckham re-signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS in January for another two years. But the player’s pot of gold is his endorsement portfolio, which includes Burger King, Sainsbury’s and Samsung. As the world’s highest-paid soccer player, he makes about $46 million a year.
And it seems like Mrs. Beckham, who’s preparing for a Spice Girls reunion performance at the London Olympics, is on her way to catching up with her husband when it comes to earnings, thanks to her passion for fashion. Victoria’s eponymous clothing range is a success, generating over $40 million annually in sales, with growth at double-digit rate. Victoria’s kickback on her fashion line of wool dresses and $3,000 purses, plus other sources of income such as royalties from Spice Girls’ hits, puts her annual earnings at $8 million -- a total of $54 million for the Beckhams.
Hollywood’s most famous couple, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, came in fourth on the list, with a combined $45 million annual income. Pitt earned his third Oscar nomination this year for "Moneyball," but yet the bigger news was his proposal to long-time partner Jolie. Balancing arty pictures like "Tree of Life" with his life as a tabloid target, he folded about $25 million. Also a tabloid-friendly celebrity, Jolie earns millions from big studio flicks, residuals and endorsement deals for companies like Louis Vuitton. Only between May 2011 and May 2012, the actress cashed in some $20 million.
Last but certainly not least are superstar Will Smith and his wife, the also actress Jada Pinkett Smith. After taking a short break from the big screen, Smith came back in a big way. The star of "Men in Black 3" (box office: $619 million worldwide and counting) and "After Earth," an upcoming science-fiction thriller film directed by M. Nigh Shyamalan which co-stars his son Jaden, Smith is one of Hollywood’s most bankable actors, earning $30 million between May 2011 and May 2012.
Jada also had a good year, thanks mostly to her part on the movie "Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted," which grossed over $500 million worldwide. One of many celebrities to invest a combined total of $10 million in Carol’s Daughter, a line of beauty products created by Lisa Price, she has also acted as a spokesperson for the brand. Her earnings have totaled $10 million this year, making hers and Smith’s combined annual salary $40 million.
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