Even in death, Michael Jackson is a member of the 1%. The King of Pop once again earned the venerated distinction of being Forbes' Top-Earning Dead Celebrity after Jackson's estate raked in $170 million over the past 12 months. They should just rename it "Forbes Presents Michael Jackson's Top-Earning Dead Celebrities" list, because MJ is just dominating his fellow moneymaking corpses. Elvis Presley ranked Number Two on the list, and he made a little less than a third -- $55 million -- than Jackson earned. In fact, if you add up the amount of money the other fourteen celebrities on the Forbes list made, it's still less than Jackson.
It's been said that Jackson is worth more dead than alive, and as morbid as that sounds, it's proven to be true: The majority of Michael's earnings come from posthumous endeavors like his estate's $250 million, 10-album deal with Sony, $60 million from the concert film This Is It, and the $2.5 million Jackson's Cirque du Soleil show brings in on a nightly basis. (That's more than Jay-Z and Lady Gaga gross from their individual gigs.) Factor in Jackson's 50 percent share in the cash cow Sony/ATV music catalog (they own the Beatles' songs) and Jackson's own Mijac Music publishing, which adds another figure in "double-digit millions" to the fortune. And that's not including album sales. Jackson had a $400 million debt at the time of his death. That's nearly erased now.
Elsewhere on the list, John Lennon was Number Five with $12 million, Jimi Hendrix finished ninth with $9 million, and George Harrison placed at Number 13 by earning $6 million. Despite the Nevermind reissue, Kurt Cobain failed to make the Top 15, as did Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur. Because the list only counts money made between October 2010 and October 2011, Amy Winehouse's death was still too recent to make an impact among the Top-Earning Dead Celebrities.
[Photo: Barry King/WireImage.com]