MJ Dominates Top-Earning Dead Celebrities List

Elvis, Lennon, Dr. Seuss, Einstein, Steinbrenner, Hendrix, McQueen also make list

By DANIEL MACHT
|  Monday, Oct 25, 2010  |  Updated 5:55 PM EDT
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Jermaine, Marlon, and a tearful <a title=Jackie Jackson react after seeing their brother Michael on the big screen in "This Is It."" />

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Jermaine, Marlon, and a tearful Jackie Jackson react after seeing their brother Michael on the big screen in "This Is It."

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The King of Pop’s reign still holds sway over the living.

Michael Jackson has topped Forbes’ annual list of the year’s top-earning dead celebrities, coming in ahead of the King of Rock ‘N Roll, Elvis Presley

Jackson’s estate hauled in $275 million over the course 12 months starting Oct. 1, 2009, according to Forbes, with gains driven by royalties from his stake in the Sony/ATV catalog, the concert film “This Is It,” and sales of other MJ merchandise.

The "Thriller" singer, who inexplicably never landed on Forbes’100 most influential list during his lifetime, posthumously earned more than the other 12 stars on this year’s list, the mag reported. Jackson died June 25, 2009 in Los Angeles and landed at no. 3 on Forbes’ dead-celebrity list a year ago.

Presley, up two spots from last year to make no. 2 on the list, earned $60 million on merch and licensing sales gains associated with the star’s 75th birthday anniversary. Presley also benefited from Graceland admissions and a Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil show, Forbes reported.

In the no. 5 spot is ex-Beatle John Lennon, who was gunned down in 1980 and would have celebrated his 70th birthday this year.

Stieg Larsson, the bestselling Swedish author of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” debuted on Forbes’ list in the No. 6 spot with $18 million in posthumous earnings.

Larsson, who died in 2004 before his three “Millennium Trilogy” books were published and became fodder for films, reportedly lived on $30,000 a year. His ex-girlfriend, father and brother are said to be sparring over Larsson's lucrative estate.

Others who made Forbes’ list this year are: novelist J.R.R. Tolkien (no. 3), "Peanuts" creator Charles Shulz (no. 4), Dr. Seus aka Theodor Giesel (no. 7), Albert Einstein (no. 8), Yankees legend George Steinbrenner (no. 9), composer Richard Rodgers (no. 10), Jimi Hendrix and designer Steve McQueen (tie) and producer Aaron Spelling (no. 13).

Selected Reading: Forbes, Forbes Gallery

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