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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Even after death celebrities make millions and fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, who surpassed singer Michael Jackson, was named the top earning dead celebrity.
In its ninth annual list Forbes.com said the Frenchman, considered one of the greatest designers of the 20th century and who died in 2008, made $350 million.
Composers Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein came in second on the 2009 list with $235 million, and the recently deceased "King of Pop" Jackson ranked third at $90 million.
But Jackson is likely to be a big earner for years to come while Saint Laurent, who made the list for the first time this year, may have difficulty repeating the 2009 performance.
"Saint Laurent had a massive estate sale, which brought in $350 million. Michael Jackson has only made $90 million since his death in June," said Forbes Senior Editor Matt Miller, who is also the editor of the dead celebrities list.
"Michael Jackson will make tens of millions of dollars a year because he has lucrative publishing rights, rights to all his memorabilia. There's still profits to be made from the movie which comes out tomorrow."
The Michael Jackson movie "This is It" hits theaters around the world on October 28. It is based on his rehearsals for a series of London concerts.
The other "King," Elvis Presley, was fourth on the list with $55 million.
The ranking assesses the earning power of deceased celebrities, including musicians, authors, actors, and songwriters, among others.
Two names that unexpectedly did not make this year's list were Marilyn Monroe and James Dean.
"Both have similar incomes to last year. In fact Marilyn Monroe made more money this year versus last year," said Miller. "However, because of all the new people on the list like Yves Saint Laurent they weren't able to keep up."
The full list of Top-Earning Dead Celebrities can be seen at: www.forbes.com/deadcelebs.
Reporting by Burton Frierson; editing by Patricia Reaney