Michael Jackson becomes the world's top earning Dead Celebrity

Each year, Forbes - trusted experts on all things wealth related - publishes its annual Dead Celebrities list, a definitive chart of the deceased icons who are earning the most from beyond the grave.

In its 2009 chart, fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent was the list's highest earner with total earnings of $350m.

This placed him ahead of John Lennon, Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schultz, Elvis Presley and, in third place, the late King of Pop Michael Jackson (who back then had earnings of $90m). 

Now, a year after his death, this figure has boomed to more than $1bn - officially making him the world's top earning dead celebrity.

According to reports, Jackson's earnings have been boosted by CD sales - record label Sony has sold more than 31 million albums since his death - and the documentary, This Is It.

The film, showing rehearsals for the singer's planned final London gigs, is now the most successful concert film of all time. It grossed $103m in cinemas, with a further $42m made through the sales of DVD and Blu-Ray.

What's more, Jackson's loyal fans still treat their tickets from the cancelled gigs as collectibles, rather than cashing-in on them.

Shortly before his death, Jackson signed a deal with Sony for £168m to release album reissues and never-before-heard tracks from his back catalogue.

It is now estimated that Jackson's estate is worth more than $994m and is likely to become even bigger than Elvis Presley's.

This perhaps isn't suprising considering that Elvis actually sold more records in the year after his death than he did during the whole of his lifetime.

Jackson was calculated to have been nearly $494m in debt when he died in June of last year.


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