For a second straight year Michael Jackson is the world’s top dead earner, according to Forbes Magazine’s macabre list of stars whose earning power remains undiminished beyond the grave.
The King of Pop, who was 50 when he died of a propofol overdose in June 2009, brought in $170 million for his estate over the past 12 months, enough to place him ahead of every other pop music act of the past year – both living and dead – except for Irish rock band U2. Elvis came in second place, earning $55 million, thanks to his evergreen songbook and Love, a hit Cirque de Soleil Las Vegas stage production featuring some of his most popular tunes. In fact, Cirque Du Soleil has turned out to be a huge profit generator for dead celebrities. Jackson’s estate and Cirque Du Soleil are splitting the costs and profits of the Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour. The estate also collects performance royalties.
Marilyn Monroe finished third with $27 million in earnings between Sept. 2010 and Sept. 2011. Cartoonist Charles Schulz, the man whose comic strips brought Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the Peanuts crew to life, was fourth. Beatles’ legend John Lennon tied for fifth place with newly-deceased screen legend Elizabeth Taylor, both earning $12 million. While much of Lennon’s revenues came as payment from other musicians performing his music, Taylor’s largely came from her best-selling fragrance empire. Her flagship scent, White Diamonds, enjoyed gross sales of $54 million in the United States in 2010, according to Forbes analysts. Taylor’s estate could also richly benefit from a December Christie’s auction, which will feature the sale of the late actress’s jewels, art work, and gowns. Experts predict the items could fetch up to $30 million.
Forbes Top 15 Deceased Money Earners Were:
1. Michael Jackson
2. Elvis Presley
3. Marilyn Monroe
4. Peanuts creator Charles Schulz
5. John Lennon & Elizabeth Taylor
7. Theoretical physicist Albert Einstein
8. Children’s author Theodor “Dr Seuss” Geisel
9. Rock legend Jimi Hendrix; Swedish writer Stieg Larsson; Hollywood actor Steve McQueen; and legendary composer Richard Rodgers
10. Beatle George Harrison; pin-up girl Bettie Page; pop art creator Andy Warhol