The top earning dead celebrities are led by Liz Taylor, the iconic actress, whose multiple sources of income have given her a rich afterlife. Following her are big names like Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, and others.
The top earning dead celebrities made millions between October 2011 and October 2012- that's the timeframe Forbes used to compile their list. Although past years were held by the King of Pop himself, his good friend Dame Elizabeth "Liz" Taylor beat him this time with the auctioning of her personal items.
The staggering $210 million her estate earned was mainly due to the Christie's auction of her jewelry, art work, costumes, and other items, which were sold for $184 million. Because of the record-breaking sale- every one of the 1,800 items put up for auction were sold after the star died last year at 79- her estate is enjoying the top spot.
The auction was far from her only source of income, however. Her best selling perfume, White Diamonds, brought in $75 million in 2011, according to Euromonitor. In addition, her multiple movies still bring in revenue to this day.
Coming up in second place is Michael Jackson with $145 million; his death in 2009 boosted his already high record sales significantly. In addition to having some of the bestselling records of all time, his 50 percent stake in Sony's ATV catalog- that includes many top artists like The Beatles, Taylor Swift, and Lady Gaga- will continue to earn him millions for years to come.
Next is Elvis Presley, whose $55 million in earnings comes primarily from Graceland visits and licensing. There was also a Cirque Du Soleil show, Viva Elvis, but it was closed at the end of this summer, so his earnings could possibly be lower next year.
Coming in the no. 4 spot is Charles Schultz, the creator of the "Peanuts" comic strip and resulting media empire. The popular characters earned him $37 million last year, and a Peanuts movie is slated for 2015, which could increase the brand's $2 billion annual earnings- that could propel him up this list in coming years.
Rounding out the top five is reggae legend Bob Marley, whose $17 million in earnings comes from diversifying the brand. His name is used for a beverage company, audio equipment, and other merchandise.
Others top earning dead celebs include: John Lennon of The Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, Albert Einstein, Theodor Geisel of the "Dr. Seuss" books, Steve McQueen, pin-up girl Bettie Page, Richard Rogers of Rogers & Hammerstein, and George Harrison of The Beatles.