The Number One: Michael Jackson and Elvis top list of dead celebrities earning the most money
These stars are making bank from beyond the grave.
Forbes released its 2019 list of the Top-Earning Dead Celebrities on Wednesday, the day before Halloween. And Michael Jackson remains the King of Pop even in death, topping the list for the seventh consecutive year with $60 million in pretax income from Oct. 1, 2018, through the same date this year.
And that’s despite the resurfaced sexual-abuse allegations after HBO’s “Leaving Neverland” aired last spring. The documentary tells the story of two men who allege the “Thriller” legend molested them as boys, and led to another public outcry against the 13-time Grammy winner. Jackson was acquitted on all charges related to the alleged sexual abuse of a 13-year-old boy in 2005, and repeatedly denied any claims that he hurt or molested children before his death in 2009 at age 50.
Forbes notes that streaming of Jackson’s music actually surged despite the controversy, rising from 1.8 billion plays a year ago to 2.1 billion this year. It also counted the proceeds from his catalog, a Las Vegas show and a $250 million deal with Sony
(giving the company the rights to distribute Jackson’s recordings, per a Wall Street Journal report) for keeping his postmortem cash flow going strong.
The King of Pop was followed by the King of Rock ’n’ Roll, with Elvis Presley snagging the second-place spot with $39 million, in part thanks to the 500,000-plus visitors to his recently expanded Graceland home. The singer, who died in 1977, has also got a Warner Bros.
biopic, being directed by Baz Luhrmann on deck, with Tom Hanks playing his manager.
Deceased musicians claim nine of the 13 spots on this postmortem list, including Bob Marley ($20 million); Beatles John Lennon ($14 million) and George Harrison ($9 million); Prince ($12 million); and Whitney Houston ($9.5 million). The musicians on the list generated a combined 15.2 billion streams in the U.S. over the past year, up 38.5% from the 12 months before.
“Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz takes third place, still drawing $38 million as his beloved Snoopy and Charlie Brown characters celebrate the franchise’s 70th anniversary this year. The “Peanuts” licensing deal with Met Life