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 (£174.6 million), Forbes said on Monday (Oct.25).
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.
The pop star'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.
Amid the news about the singer's death, Jackson's estate was generating millions, 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 catalogue, 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.
Former Beatle John Lennon, who would have turned 70 this year, was ranked No. 5 with an income of $17 million.
"Many of the deceased icons on our list offer the marketing community name recognition, broad cultural appeal and, unlike their living counterparts, an indelible image that can't be damaged by a rehab stint or tabloid story," Rose said.
A deceased celebrity needed to earn at least $5 million between October 1, 2009 and October 1, 2010 to make this year's list, Forbes said. The magazine spoke to agents, lawyers and other sources to estimate annual gross earnings.
The full list can be seen at www.forbes.com/deadcelebs