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Michael Jackson is top earning dead celebrity with $75M

Michael Jackson died eight years ago, but he’s still earning millions of dollars.

The King of Pop sits atop Forbes’ Top 13 list of highest-earning dead celebrities for the fifth straight year, after raking in $75million during a one year period so far.

Forbes reported Jackson’s earnings are boosted by the Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil show, Michael Jackson One, a stake in the EMI music publishing catalog and a new greatest hits album, ‘Scream,’ released in September, among other endeavors.  

The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, topped Forbes’ list of highest-earning dead celebrities with $75million in earnings

Two other singers join Jackson in the list’s top five: Elvis Presley comes in fourth having earned $35million and Bob Marley ranks fifth with $23million.

Golf legend Arnold Palmer is the second-highest earner, bringing in $40million. Palmer’s posthumous earnings comes, in part, through sales of the AriZona lemonade and ice tea beverage made in his name and his branded apparel line. 

‘Peanuts’ creator Charles Schulz took third place on the list, with $38million, thanks to a still lucrative MetLife campaign — which expires in 2019 — as well as other licensing, retail and book sales.   

Presley came in at number four on the list, with $35million, improving on 2016’s earnings of $27million. The King’s increased earnings, Forbes noted, were due to two new openings within Graceland: The Guesthouse hotel and Elvis Presley’s Memphis Entertainment Complex.

Elvis Presley took the number four spot on the 2017 lis

Bob Marley took number five with $23million

Elvis Presley (left) took the number four spot on the 2017 list, with $35million in earnings, and Bob Marley took number five with $23million

Sales of Prince's albums following his 2016 death helped land the music icon at number raking in $18million in earnings

Sales of Prince’s albums following his 2016 death helped land the music icon at number seven, raking in $18million in earnings

Reggae superstar Marley snared fifth place with $23million, thanks to income from House of Marley audio equipment and the Marley Beverage Co., which includes a variety of natural teas, coffee drinks and sparkling waters. 

Three recently deceased musicians also landed on the Forbes list.

Rock star Tom Petty, who died on October 3, came in at number 6, with $20million in earnings, which included income from his band’s spring and summer tour, which ended on September 25.

Spikes in records sales followed the deaths of music icon Prince and David Bowie.

Prince, who died in April 2016 of an opioid overdose, came in at number seven with $18million in earnings, while Bowie, who died in January 2016 of liver cancer, landed at number 11 with $9.5million.

Physicist Albert Einstein took the number 10 spot with $10million

Elizabeth Taylor landed at number 12 with $8million earnings

Physicist Albert Einstein took the number 10 spot with $10million, while Elizabeth Taylor landed at number 12 with $8million earnings

Steady book sales and character licensing deals helped account for Dr. Seuss landing at number eight after taking in $16million. John Lennon came in at number nine with $12million, thanks to licensing deals, album sales and other ventures.

Rounding out the list were three major earners who make big money off licensing deals which trade on their names. 

Physicist Albert Einstein took tenth place, earning $10million thanks to having his name and face on a slew of products ranging from posters and tablet computers to talking robots and tote bags. 

Meanwhile, actress Elizabeth Taylor came in at number 12 with $8million, in part due to her namesake fragrance empire, which includes bestsellers White Diamonds and Passion.

Lastly, pinup model Bettie Paige rounds out the list at number 13, with $7.5million in earnings, partially the result of lucrative licensing deals including clothing, accessories and lingerie lines.

Forbes’ earnings figures are based on pretax income between October 15, 2016 and October 15, 2017.   

Top 13 highest earning dead celebrities of 2017

1. Michael Jackson, musician, died 2009 : $75million

2. Arnold Palmer, golfer, died 2016: $40million

3. Charles Schulz, cartoonist, died 2000: $38million

4. Elvis Presley, musician, died 1977: $35million

5. Bob Marley, musician, died 1981: $23million

6. Tom Petty, musician, died 2017: $20million

7. Prince, musician, died 2016: $18million

8. Dr. Seuss, author, died 1991: $16million

9. John Lennon, musician, died 1980: $12million

10. Albert Einstein, physicist, died 1955: $10million

11. David Bowie, musician, died 2016: $9.5million

12. Elizabeth Taylor, actress, died 2011: $8million

13. Bettie Paige, model, died 2008: $7.5million 


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