Michael Jackson Is the Top Earning Dead Celebrity With $75M

Michael Jackson is still the top-earning dead celebrity, thanks to millions around the world still buying his music. During the past 12 months, his estate has earned $75 million.

Today, Forbes published its annual top-earning dead celebrities list, with the King of Pop at the top once again, thanks to Jackson's stake in EMI's publishing catalog, the ongoing Cirque du Soleil Las Vegas show and the steady stream of posthumous releases. Last month, the estate released Scream, a collection of Halloween-themed songs.

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However, this year's $75 million total was a drop from last year's gigantic $825 million haul. The reason for the drop is the sale of the Jackson stake in the Sony/ATV catalog.

“Michael's songs are very important to people,” Mark Dippé, who directed CBS' Michael Jackson's Halloween special, told Forbes. “We just wanted to sort of tell a story that was based around the world that Michael had created with his music, and his dancing, and his performances.”

Less than a year after his death, golf legend Arnold Palmer made his debut on the list at second place, with $40 million. Palmer's wealth comes from the Palmer-branded apparel and AriZona Beverages' Arnold Palmer tea.

Peanuts creator Charles Schulz came in third this year, earning $38 million. The Elvis Presley estate earned $35 million, a jump from $27 million, thanks to the new Guesthouse at Graceland hotel.

Bob Marley came in fifth with $23 million, thanks to the Marley Beverage Co. and House of Marley audio systems and products.


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The rest of the Top 10 includes Tom Petty ($20 million); Prince ($18 million); Albert Einstein ($10 million); David Bowie ($9.5 million); and Elizabeth Taylor ($8 million). Forbes' numbers are based on revenue from Oct. 15, 2016 to Oct. 15, 2017. Since Petty died on Oct. 3, he was included on the list for the first time.