According to Forbes, the indisputable king and queen of the hip-hop prom are Jay-Z and Beyoncé Knowles. The couple, who quietly married in 2008, not only produce and sing some of the biggest hits on the charts (including “Single Ladies” and “Empire State of Mind“) but they oversee clothing lines, perform around the world, and endorse products from companies like American Express and Budweiser.
All that hard work has paid off. Between June 2008 and June 2009 the couple earned a combined $122 million putting them squarely at the top of our annual Top-Earning Couples list.
Our list includes actors, musicians, and professional athletes. We talked to agents, managers, producers, and lawyers to determine what celebrities earned from staring in movies, touring, selling albums, playing professional sports, creating lines of clothing and perfumes, and appearing in ads.
Jay-Z and Beyoncé both contribute significantly to their joint earnings. Last year Beyoncé out-earned Jay-Z, bringing in $87 million to his $35 million. (The couple also topped last year’s list with $162 million. About half of that came from each star.)
For the couple in second place on our list, it’s more about his big payday. Harrison Ford and his girlfriend, Calista Flockhart, earned a combined $69 million, $53 million less than Jay-Z and Beyonce.
Almost all of that came from Fords work in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” Ford and producers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas made a unique deal with Paramount on the movie that gave them a significant portion of the film’s earnings after the studio broke even. As a result Ford eared a jaw-dropping $65 million for putting back on Indy’s trademark fedora. Flockhart earns for her work on the TV show “Brothers & Sisters.”
In third place: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. The power couple earned a total of $55 million split about evenly between them both. Pitt had one of the biggest hits of his career last year with “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” and Jolie has embraced her inner action hero with 2008’s “Wanted” and the upcoming film “Salt.”
Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, rank fourth with $48 million. Smith is perhaps the last of the great movie stars. Even in recessionary times he still can demand a $20 million paycheck. Pinkett Smith has a burgeoning career of her own. She voices Gloria the hippo in the popular “Madagascar” films and last year produced “The Secret Life of Bees.”
The Smiths would earn even more if we were including whole families. Their daughter, Willow, appeared in “I Am Legend” with her dad and did voice work with her mom on “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.” Jaden Smith co-starred with his father in “The Pursuit of Happyness” and will star in the upcoming remake of “The Karate Kid.”
Rounding out the top five are David and Victoria Beckham. The pair earned $46 million between June 2008 and June 2009. The vast majority of that comes from David Beckham, who plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy. He is also playing for A.C. Milan and could appear in his fourth World Cup this summer.