The King of Pop passed away last summer, but he’s made more money over the past year than any musician, dead or alive. His $275 million total was greater than the earnings of the two most profitable living acts, U2 and AC/DC, combined. Jackson's posthumous earnings have been bolstered by shrewd negotiations by his estate, including a merchandising deal and the rights to his name and likeness for the Sony film This Is It, which grossed over a quarter of a billion dollars.
The King of Rock 'n' Roll’s income ballooned to $60 million, up $5 million from last year, thanks to Graceland admissions and the Elvis Presley Cirque du Soleil spectacular launched in Las Vegas earlier this year. His portfolio of more than 200 licensing and merchandise deals got a nice boost from the late star's 75th birthday celebration. Among the commemorative events: Graceland exhibits, touring tribute concerts and an Elvis-themed cruise to the Bahamas.
The last Lord of the Rings movie hit theaters eight years ago, but Tolkien is still a hot topic in Hollywood. A two-movie adaptation of his book The Hobbit is currently in preproduction in New Zealand. All that Hollywood attention has helped move his books. According to Nielsen, Tolkien sold just shy of 500,000 copies in the last year.
4. CHARLES SCHULZ - $33 Million
Cartoonist Died: Feb 12, 2000 Age: 77 Cause: Colon cancer
The Peanuts brand changed ownership again this year, with Iconix purchasing the cartoon and its characters for $175 million to form Peanuts Worldwide, LLC. With the acquisition, Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates will maintain a 20% stake in the new company. The late Schulz continues to earn from his comic strip, which appears in 2,200 newspapers across 75 countries.
It’s been nearly 30 years since The Beatles’ John Lennon was killed in New York City. In what would have been his 70th year, EMI has launched the “Gimme Some Truth” campaign, re-releasing much of Lennon’s catalog, resulting in several Top 10 chart appearances. His estate still earns from the "Beatles Rock Band" videogame and licensing deals with the likes of Cisco and Mont Blanc.