Michael Jackson has topped the Forbes’ list of highest earning dead celebrities for the seventh year in a row, raking in $60 million since October 2018 despite being the subject of the controversial Leaving Neverland documentary.
The list published Wednesday revealed the King of Pop‘s music streams increased to 2.1 billion in the US, compared to 1.8 billion the year before. His Mijac Music catalog, Sony deal and a Las Vegas show also continue to contribute to his fortune.
An estimation of pre-tax income – not deducting fees for agents, managers and lawyers – takes into account figures from Nielsen Music, IMDBPro and interviews with industry insiders.
It puts Jackson at least $21million ahead of Elvis Presley, Charles Schultz and Arnold Palmer.
Presley’s Graceland is so popular with 500,000 visitors annually, that the attraction added a $45million Memphis extension recently.
Elvis was just $1million ahead of Peanuts creator Charles Schultz.
Thanks to a double digit licencing deal with MetLife, the Snoopy cartoonist earned $38million. However he will likely drop down next year’s list as that contract expires.
Arnold Palmer was another non-music star to make big bucks from the grave. Profiting from Mastercard, Rolex and a beverage deal with Arizona for his namesake drink, the name has very much stayed alive since his death three years ago.
Author Dr. Seuss (no.6) passed away 28 years ago but in the past year alone he shifted five million copies of his children’s books, plus deals with Hallmark and Universal Studios continue to add value to his brand.
The estate of Marilyn Monroe (no.8) has 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes to credit for her Zales deal, choosing to the actress who performed Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend in the motion picture to promote their own jewels.
After famously claiming to wear nothing but Chanel No.5 to bed, 57 years after she died from an overdose, the star – real name Norma Jean – has a deal with the designer brand and the luxurious watch makers Mont Blanc.
Perhaps proof that music has the most potential when it comes to earning in the after-life, the remainder of the list is completed by hitmakers. Late Beatles stars banked on the 50thanniversary of the Abbey Road album which experienced a surge of 2.2million sales and boosted the personal catalog of John Lennon by 52 percent.
George Harrison – who also penned some of the Fab Four’s greatest hits – earned $9million this year, thanks to a Las Vegas Cirque Du Soleil show featuring iconic tunes from the Liverpool band.
Three years on from his death, Prince’s music has experience a 12 percent year-on-year boost, with 500 million streams and 320,000 physical copies of his released sold.
Singing legend Whitney Houston (12) made her debut on the Forbes list almost eight years after she died.
This year her Higher Love tune made it back into the charts with a Kygo remix and half her estate was sold for $7million this year, earning Houston $9.5million in total.
Although there were higher music star earners, by retaining rights to his creations, rapper Nipsey Hussle (10) collected $11million from 1.85billion streams, making him the third highest earner from music alone.
However Hussle passed most recently of the stars and was murdered this March.
Fellow rapper XXXtentacion – real name Jahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy – wasn’t far behind with $10million from 5.6billion music streams. After being killed in June 2018, his music plays this past year were down 27 percent year-on-year compared to the year he died.