King of Pop Michael Jackson has been named by Forbes magazine as its 2016 Top-Earning Dead Celebrity.
Even in the grave, he is still earning fat checks. Jackson’s total pretax payday of $825 million marks the biggest annual haul by any celebrity – dead or alive, according to Forbes.
A huge part of the Michael Jackson earnings came from the sale of his Sony/ATV music publishing catalog. The catalog is known for its Beatles collection and also works of Bob Dylan, Eminem and Taylor Swift. In 1985, the pop icon bought it for $47.5 million ($140 million in today’s dollars). A decade after, Sony paid Jackson $115 million for a 50/50 joint partnership for his music publishing catalog. In March, Sony bought Jackson’s remaining half for $750 million. This gave the music icon his highest payout to date, Billboard noted.
Co-executors of Jackson’s estate, attorney John Branca and music executive John McClain, said in a statement in March that the sales further validates Michael Jackson foresight and mastery in investing in music publishing. Critics previously mocked the catalog as a badly overpriced investment but it turned out to be otherwise. Fortune noted the sales and its accompanying distributions gave Jackson’s estate a 30% annualized return on investment.
Check out Forbes 2016 Top-Earning Dead Celebrities list below.
Meanwhile, the 3-D Peanuts Movie last year gave cartoonist Charles Schulz $48 million in revenue and put him at the second spot. Schulz is known for his iconic Peanuts franchise.
Music legends Elvis Presley, Prince, Bob Marley and John Lennon were also on the list.
Here’s the complete list of Forbes 2016 Top-Earning Dead Celebrities
- Michael Jackson (d. 2009) — $825 million
- Charles Schulz (d. 2000) — $48 million
- Arnold Palmer (d. 2016) — $40 million
- Elvis Presley (d. 1977) — $27 million
- Prince (d. 2016) — $25 million
- Bob Marley (d. 1981) — $21 million
- Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel (d. 1991) — $20 million
- John Lennon (d. 1980) — $12 million
- Albert Einstein (d. 1955) — $11.5 million
- Bettie Page (d. 2008) — $11 million
- David Bowie (d. 2016) — $10.5 million
- Steve McQueen (d. 1980) — $9 million
- Elizabeth Taylor (d. 2011) — $8 million