Michael Jackson tops Forbes dead celeb list

Oct. 26, 2011 at 1:25 PM
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NEW YORK, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Michael Jackson tops Forbes magazine's annual list of top-earning dead celebrities for the second year in a row, the magazine said.

Jackson's estate brought in $170 million over the past 12 months from sales of his music and his stake in the Sony/ATV catalog, Forbes said Tuesday. He was also the second highest-earning pop act over the past year after U2.

Elvis Presley ranked second on the Forbes list with $55 million and Marilyn Monroe came in third with $27 million.

Forbes said songwriters who own their own music catalogs can keep earning big money long after they're gone.

Cirque Du Soleil has also turned out to be a huge profit generator for dead celebrities. Jackson's estate and Cirque Du Soleil are splitting the costs and profits of the "Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour" and the estate also collects performance royalties.

Forbes said the Cirque show "Viva Elvis" played a major role in Presley's ranking. John Lennon, who tied with Elizabeth Taylor, for fifth place with $12 million, and George Harrison, tied for 13th with $6 million, have also benefited from the Cirque show "Love."

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