Michael Jackson Reclaims Title of Top-Earning Dead Celebrity

And what is Albert Einstein doing on this list?!

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Steve Granitz / Wire Image

Michael Jackson performs at the Super Bowl XXVII Halftime show at the Rose Bowl on January 31, 1993 in Pasadena, California.

Forbes knows money. They know, for example, how much money dead celebrities are still raking in — they’ve even ranked them. Which is how we know that Michael Jackson (or, rather, his estate) earned $160 million between October 2012 and October 2013.  That’s more than Madonna—the top earner on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list—pulled in.

The Jackson estate saw revenues from a variety of sources, including two Cirque du Soleil shows, one that even features an illusion of Jackson performing Man in the Mirror. Really bolstering the balance sheet, of course, are the continuing royalties from his songs and his partial ownership of Sony/ATV catalog.

(READ: Elizabeth Taylor Overtakes Michael Jackson as Top-Earning Dead Celeb)

Elvis Presley—the original King—continues to earn: his empire brought in $55 million during the same period, good enough to place him second among the top 10.

A different kind of artist, Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, pops up on the list in third with $37 million. With reports of a new animated movie in the works for 2015, don’t expect to see that figure diminish.

In 2012, Elizabeth Taylor’s estate was busy selling items—a tidy $200 million in diamonds and art—making her last year’s top-earning dead celebrity. But this year, things have taken a bit of a turn downward, but not too far down. Taylor still pulled in about $25 million, largely from her claims in movies and business deals.

The one name that really stands out in this year’s Top 10: ALBERT EINSTEIN!


1. Michael Jackson, $160 million, singer

2. Elvis Presley, $55 million, singer

3. Charles Shulz, $37 million, cartoonist

4. Elizabeth Taylor, $25 million, actress

5. Bob Marley, $18 million, singer

6. Marilyn Monroe, $15 million, actress

7. John Lennon, $12 million, singer

8. Albert Einstein, $10 million, scientist

9. Bettie Page, $10 million, actress

10. Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Suess), $9 million, author