The late King of Pop made more money over the past year than any other musician or actor, dead or alive.

Smart deals by his estate have the King of Pop set to be one of the top earners in music for years to come.


Over the past year Lady GagaBeyoncéMadonna and Jay-Zeach each earned more than $50 million. But Michael Jackson earned more than all four--combined.

Fueled by a bonanza of interest following Jackson's death, his estate raked in $275 million over the past 12 months, by our estimates. That's more than enough to earn the King of Pop the top spot on our annual Dead Celebs list; in fact, it's more than the rest of the artists on the list put together, and more than any living artist or group.

Video: Michael Jackson's LA Palace For Sale
" The cash flow on an annual basis is tremendous," says Donald David, an estate lawyer who handled the postmortem finances of rapper Tupac Shakur. "Sure, it's going to decline eventually, but it's going to be a huge amount in the foreseeable future. [Jackson's] kids are going to have grandkids before that money's gone."

The Gloved One's long-term earnings prospects in the afterlife have been bolstered by the deals arranged since his death. His estate received a $60 million advance for last year's filmThis Is It; sales of a Jackson-themed videogame, memorabilia and a re-released autobiography brought in an additional $50 million. The estate still owns the rights to Jackson's music, which took in nearly $50 million on heavy radio play and album sales over the past year. The funds have been used to put a significant dent into the roughly $500 million in debt Jackson left.

There's more cash on the horizon for the Jackson estate: A deal with Sony Music to put out unreleased recordings will bring in another $200 million to $250 million over the next seven years. Adam Kluger, chief of product-placement outfit The Kluger Agency, expects new Jackson releases to include collaborations with popular artists like Akon and, both of whom worked with Jackson shortly before his death. He believes the current surge of interest in Jackson will prove sustainable.

Michael Jackson never graced Forbes' annual Celebrity 100list during his life. In death, the King of Pop earned more in the past year than any star on that list, apart from Oprah Winfrey.

Jackson not only took the No.1 spot on our 10th annual ranking of the Top-Earning Dead Celebrities, with gross earnings of $275 million, he out-earned the other 12 deceased stars on the list combined. Still more impressive: His estate's 12-month haul was greater than the pooled earnings of this year's two biggest living acts, U2 and AC/DC. Jackson's posthumous earnings come from his stake in the lucrative Sony/ATV catalog, the hit Sony ( SNE - news people ) filmThis Is It and renewed fan interest in music, videos and all things Michael Jackson. (See "The Corpse King Of Pop")

Video: Michael Jackson's LA Palace For Sale
In Pictures: The 13 Top-Earning Dead Celebs

"The death of Michael Jackson really put a focus on--crassly, quite frankly--what someone's worth when they're deceased," says David Reeder, vice president of Corbis' GreenLight, which manages the personality rights for Albert Einstein and Steve McQueen, among other dead celebrities. "In a more positive way, it exposed consumers to this idea that there actually is a market for, and an enduring legacy for, these people."

To place on this year's list, a deceased celebrity needed to earn at least $5 million between Oct. 1, 2009, and Oct. 1, 2010. For the most part, earnings come from things like music royalties (John Lennon), book sales (Dr. Seuss) or the licensing of one's image and likeness (McQueen). To compile the list, we spoke to agents, lawyers and other sources to estimate a star's gross earnings (before taxes, management fees and other costs).

According to Forbes magazine 2010's top-earning dead celebrity is Michael Jackson.  Apparently the late King of Pop made more money over the past year than any other musician or actor, dead or alive. Check out who else made it to the top 5 list.

No 5: John Lennon
This English musician and singer-songwriter, and a former Beatle, has been ranked at number five with an income of $17 million.

No 4
: Charles Schulz
The creator of Charlie Brown and Snoopy came in fourth with $33 million.

No 3
: JRR Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien, whose trilogy of novels was made into films by director Peter Jackson, came in at number three on the Forbes list with earnings of $50 million.

No 2
: Elvis Presley.
The King of Rock 'n' Roll's estate raked in $60 million this year. Also the estate's portfolio of more than 200 licensing and merchandise deals got a nice boost from the late star's 75th birthday celebration as well.

No 1
: Michael Jackson 
According to, the late singer earned $275 million in the past twelve months. In fact, he earned more than the rest of the top twelve combined :-)

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