Artists become icons in death

IT TOOK a split second to change my mind about a remark made by a friend that I had dismissed as a senseless and cruel joke.

He had decided - on hearing that a popular singer's health had deteriorated - that he would "stock up" on her latest and previous albums before she died.

"The value of her albums will rocket when she dies. It would be wise to buy her works now," he reasoned.

He wasn't far off the mark. It is not just the price of creative works that go up when an artist dies, works acquire a certain cult status that comes with owning something that was considered the work of a legend or genius.

Think of the influence that the death of pop icon Michael Jackson had on his album sales. Though he had been working on a world tour, his album sales had taken a dive in recent years.

Record labels are still churning "previously un-released" material of rapper Tupac, more than 10 years after his death.

Limited-edition material and memorabilia become collectors' items whose value increases with their rarity.