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Michael Jackson reigns supreme as the highest paid deceased celebrity of 2017. According to Forbes, the iconic singer earned $75 million over the last 12 months, which was driven by a variety of business ventures that includes a new CBS Halloween special released earlier this week, a new greatest hits album, a Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas, and a stake in the EMI music publishing catalogue.
This marks the fifth consecutive year that Jackson topped Forbes' list of top-earning dead celebrities. The annual list "measures pretax income from Oct. 15, 2016, through Oct. 15, 2017, before deducting cuts for agents, managers, and lawyers," states the Forbes website. "Sources include Nielsen SoundScan, IMDB, Pollstar Pro, and interviews with celebrity estate experts." Altogether, the Gloved One has been ranked No. 1 on the list seven times since his passing in 2009.
Last year, the King of Pop raked in a whopping $825 million, which made him the highest earning entertainer dead or alive. Jackson's earnings were primarily driven by the $750 million deal Sony inked in order to purchase the singer's stake in a jointly owned catalog of nearly 4 million songs.
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Bob Marley ranked as No. 5 on the list with earnings of $23 million that were boosted by House of Marley, a line of environmentally-friendly audio products, and the Marley Beverage Co. "When we decided to start that movement, it was [to] add relevancy to who we are as a family," Marley's son Rohan told Forbes. "We started that to really hone in on our legacy and protect what our father has given us."
The international reggae artist follows behind legendary golfer Arnold Palmer, who came in second with $40 million; Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, who was listed as third with income of $38 million; and Elvis Presley, who finished in fourth place with $35 million thanks to the new multimillion-dollar Elvis Presley's Memphis entertainment complex and the recent opening of The Guesthouse at Graceland Hotel.
Image: Wikimedia/Creative Commons
Earning $18 million placed Prince as No. 7 on the list. The musical innovator died in April 2016 without leaving a will. His estate, however, has been valued between $100 million and $300 million before taxes.
Prince falls behind rocker Tom Petty, who died on Oct. 3 and earned $20 million. Other celebrities who rounded out the top 10 list include Dr. Suess who earned $16 million; late Beatles singer John Lennon with $12 million; and Albert Einstein with $10 million.