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Michael Jackson thrills once again atop Forbes’ Top-Earning Dead Celebs list


Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty ImagesIt’s fitting that on Halloween, the man who created one of the holiday’s most enduring musical moments has topped one of Forbes magazine’s famous lists.  Unfortunately, that list is the publication’s macabre annual ranking of Top-Earning Dead Celebrities.

For the fifth year in a row, Michael Jackson is #1 on the list, with earnings of $75 million.  This year, his bottom line was boosted by an animated Halloween special, and the new compilation album Scream.  That’s in addition to the MJ-themed Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas, record sales, and income from his share of EMI Music’s publishing catalog.

Last year, MJ set a record when he took in a whopping $825 million, due to the sale of his half of the Sony/ATV music catalog. That marked the highest annual total for any entertainer ever, dead or alive.

Despite reduced earnings this year, Michael is still way ahead of the #2 celebrity on Forbes‘ list, late golf legend Arnold Palmer, who earned $40 million, mostly due to the AriZona Beverage brand of lemonade and iced tea that bears his name. 

Other long-dead musicians on the list include Elvis Presley, who ranks #4 with earnings of $35 million, and reggae superstar Bob Marley, who’s at #5 with $23 million.

Recently deceased musicians on the list include Tom Petty, who died on October 3, but still made it to #6.  Since Forbes‘ list includes earnings from October 15, 2016 to October 15, 2017, Petty’s income of $20 million reflects his income from his past year touring with his band the Heartbreakers

Prince, who died last year, took in $18 million, which ranks him #7.  David Bowie, who also died last year, ranks #11, with earnings of $9.5 million.

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