By Ryan Velez
Fans of deceased megastar Michael Jackson are still enjoying his music since his passing seven years ago, and according to The Daily Mail, it is showing financially. A Forbes list of deceased celebrities reports that 2016, the King of Pop brought in $825 million. This massive sum makes him easily the biggest earner this year, well above the $48 million brought in by the second-place earner, deceased Peanuts creator Charles Schulz.
Forbes explained in their list that one major reason that Jackson’s earnings are so far ahead is the decision of his estate to sell his half-share of The Beatles’ catalog to Sony for $750 million. Back in 1984, Jackson had purchased the rights to their music for $47.5 million, before selling 50% of it to Sony for $115 million in 1995.
“He was always doing stuff that was the best, the greatest, the biggest,” says Jeff Jampol, well known for managing the estates of Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and others. “That was a big fight when he wanted to buy that catalog … it turned out to be one of the greatest investments ever.” In a passage from the book Michael Jackson, Inc., Jackson reflected on the savvy that earned him a nine-figure return at the time in a 2007 conference call.
“See,” he told Sony/ATV chief Marty Bandier. “I told you I knew the music publishing business.”
Schulz’s revenue, by comparison, is mostly through licensing, with an added boost from the release of the 3-D Peanuts movie last year.
Golfer Arnold Palmer, who passed away on September 25th of this year at the age of 87, was third on the list with $40 million in earnings, though, granted the recentness of his death, the bulk of this money was made while he was still alive. Numbers 4, 5, and 6 on the list are all musicians: Elvis Presley, Prince, and Bob Marley. They each brought in $27 million, $25 million, and $21 million respectively.
Filling out the top 10 are Theodor Geisel, more commonly known as Dr. Seuss, Beatles songwriter John Lennon, Albert Einstein, and original pin-up model Bettie Page.