King of Pop Michael Jackson remains the world’s highest-earning deceased celebrity for a fifth year running in Forbes magazine’s annual list, released Monday.
“Michael’s songs are very important to people,” Mark Dippé, director of the recent CBS animated special “Michael Jackson’s Halloween,” explained to the magazine. The estate Jackson left upon his death in 2009 earned an estimated $75 million pretax in the period between Oct. 15, 2016, and Oct. 15, 2017, with backlog album sales strongly abetted by the Halloween special, the new album “Scream,” a Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil show using his music and part-ownership of EMI’s music-publishing catalog.
At No. 2, with $40 million, is golf legend Arnold Palmer (1929-2016), largely thanks to apparel bearing his name and the Arnåold Palmer line of AriZona Beverages. “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz (1922-2000), whose comic strip continues in countless newspapers 17 years after his death, is at No. 3 with $38 million, on the strength of every sort of ancillary market from perennial TV specials and greeting cards to, until recently, MetLife commercials.
Two more musicians round out the top five on the 13-person list. The King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley (1935-1977) earned $35 million posthumously — an increase over last year’s $27 million, Forbes said, due to the new Elvis Presley’s Memphis Entertainment Complex and the hotel The Guest House at Graceland. Behind him with $23 million is reggae icon Bob Marley (1945-1981), whose legacy graces House of Marley audio products and the Marley Beverage Co.
Forbes bases its estimate on figures from Nielsen SoundScan, IMDb, Pollstar Pro and interviews with celebrity-estate experts. The figures are pre-disbursement to agents, managers and lawyers.