Michael Jackson top-earning dead celebrity: report

Mon Oct 25, 2010 3:36pm EDT
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By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Michael Jackson's sudden death sparked an outpouring of grief around the world, but fans also opened their wallets to make him this year's top-earning dead celebrity with $275 million, Forbes said on Monday.

Jackson raked in more than the combined total of the other 12 celebrities on the list, Forbes magazine said. He was ranked third on last year's list with $90 million.

Elvis Presley came in second, earning $60 million from admissions to his former home, Graceland, which is now a museum and tourist attraction in Memphis, Tennessee, a Cirque de Soleil show and more than 200 licensing and merchandise deals.

"Jackson's spot atop our top earning dead celebrities list should come as no surprise given the renewed fan interest in music, videos and all things Michael Jackson," said Forbes writer Lacey Rose.

Jackson was 50 when he died in his Los Angeles home on June 25 last year, shortly before a planned series of comeback concerts in London. The singer left behind three children and a debt of $500 million.

But his estate has generated millions since his death, mostly through record sales, the "This Is It" concert movie, licensing rights, deals to release new albums and a Cirque du Soleil stage show in Las Vegas.

"Thanks to a lucrative catalog, hit film and album sales, the late king of pop earned more in the last year than Lady Gaga, Madonna and Jay-Z, combined," said Rose.

Jackson's physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, is awaiting trial on a charge that he is responsible for the singer's death by administering a powerful anesthetic to help him sleep.   Continued...

<p>A card with a photograph of late entertainer Michael Jackson is placed among flowers during an event to commemorate the first anniversary of his death, in Leipzig, June 25, 2010. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch</p>