Who are 2016 top-earning dead celebrities?

October 12, 2016

Ever wonder how much money celebrities make AFTER they pass away?

Michael Jackson topped the annual list of top-earning dead celebrities on Wednesday (Oct 12) for the fourth straight in a row.


Jackson, who died in 2009, pulled in $825 million in 12 months ending Oct. 1, according to estimates from Forbes. Most of that money came from selling Jackson’s remaining stake in the Sony/ATV music publishing catalog – which includes the rights to many Beatles songs – to Sony Corp.


Sales of Prince’s albums soared after he passed away (accidental drug overdose) in April. Forbes put him at #5 – with estimated earnings of $25 million. At #4, Elvis Presley brought in $27 million.

David Bowie, whose surprise death of cancer in January – outsold both Presley and Jackson in albums and singles in 2016, but only managed to generate $10.5 million.


Golfing legend Arnold Palmer died in September. He was 87. Palmer claimed the #3 spot – pulling down $40 million, mostly from licensing and endorsements of his signature Arnold Palmer iced tea and lemonade drink, leisure wear label, and golf course designs.

Forbes’ estimates were based on pretax income, before management and legal expenses, and were compiled through interviews with estate experts and data on record sales, touring, and movie earnings.


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