October 26th, 2010
02:45 PM ET
He may be gone, but he's not forgotten. In fact, Michael Jackson has brought in so much bank since his June 2009 passing that he's landed the No. 1 spot on Forbes's Top-Earning Dead Celebrities List.
According to Forbes, Jackson's estate has brought in a whopping $275 million over the past 12 months – more than the combined earnings of superstars Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Madonna, and more than any living artist or group, for that matter.
"[Jackson's] kids are going to have grandkids before that money's gone," estate lawyer Donald David, who handled Tupac Shakur's finances, tells the magazine.
The beloved singer's good fortune is due in large part to licensing deals cut by executors of his estate, a surge in sales of his music catalog and the $250 million box office of his film, "This Is It."
"There is a strong demand for Michael Jackson's music and merchandise, and that will only increase as more material surfaces in the years following his death," says Adam Kluger of product-placement outfit the Kluger Agency.
Adds Susan Blond, Jackson's publicist during his "Thriller" days, "His earning potential will only increase year after year, as his legacy continues to be cemented. When our great-grandchildren are talking about music, it will be Michael Jackson over Elvis Presley."
Rounding out the lucky 13 deceased top earners, in order of rank: Elvis Presley, $60 million; author J.R.R. Tolkien, $50 million; Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, $33 million; John Lennon, $17 million; author Stieg Larsson, $15 million; Dr. Seuss, $11 million; Albert Einstein, $10 million; New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, $8 million; songwriter Richard Rodgers, $7 million; Jimi Hendrix, $6 million; Steve McQueen, $6 million; Aaron Spelling, $5 million.
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