Michael Jackson tops Forbes list of highest-earning dead celebrities

Pop superstar Michael Jackson performs a song during a concert in Sao Paulo, in this Oct 15, 1993 file photo. Five years after his death, Jackson is generating a fortune and is the top-earning dead celebrity, raking in an estimated US$140 million in
Pop superstar Michael Jackson performs a song during a concert in Sao Paulo, in this Oct 15, 1993 file photo. Five years after his death, Jackson is generating a fortune and is the top-earning dead celebrity, raking in an estimated US$140 million in the past year for his estate. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 

New York (Reuters) - Five years after his death, singer Michael Jackson is generating a fortune and is the top-earning dead celebrity, raking in an estimated US$140 million (S$178 million) in the past year for his estate, Forbes said.

He earned more than twice as much as singer Elvis Presley, who died in 1977 and came in second with US$55 million, and three times more than cartoonist and Peanuts comic strip creator Charles Schulz, who took third place with US$40 million.

"Few celebrities prove the point that there is (financial) life after death better than Michael Jackson," Forbes said.

It is Jackson's second straight year atop the list. He regained the title in 2013, a year after being pushed into second place by actress Elizabeth Taylor.

Jackson's second album released after his death, Xscape debuted at No. 2 on the pop charts in the past year and the singer also appeared as a hologram at the Billboard Music Awards. Two Cirque du Soleil shows, Immortal and One, account for much of his earnings along with his music catalogue and publishing empire.

Taylor, who died in 2011, came in at No. 4 with US$25 million and reggae singer Bob Marley completed the top five with US$20 million in earnings in the year to October 2014. Marley died of cancer at the age of 36 in 1981.

Singer John Lennon, the former Beatle who was gunned down in New York in 1980, was No. 7 with US$12 million.

The 13 dead celebrities included on Forbes list earned a total of US$363.5 million.

Forbes compiled the list by talking to estate managers, lawyers and licensors and analyzing estimated posthumous earnings between October 2013 and 2014.