NEW YORK - Michael Jackson topped an annual list of the top-earning dead celebrities Wednesday for the fourth straight year, far outstripping fellow musical icons Prince and David Bowie, who died earlier this year.
Jackson, who died in 2009, raked in a bumper $825 million in earnings for the 12 months ending October 1, according to estimates from Forbes. That came mostly from the Jackson estate's $750 million sale of the late singer's remaining stake in the Sony/ATV music publishing catalog — which includes the rights to many Beatles songs — to Sony Corp.
"Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz was in second place with $48 million. The cartoonist died of colon cancer 16 years ago, but lives on through the franchise and its licensing revenue.
Golf legend Arnold Palmer, who died in September at age 87, claimed the No. 3 spot with earnings of $40 million, mostly from licensing and endorsements of his signature Arnold Palmer iced tea and lemonade drink, leisure wear label and golf course designs.
Sales of Prince albums soared after the musician died of an accidental drug overdose in April. Forbes ranked him in fifth place overall with estimated earnings of $25 million, just below Elvis Presley with $27 million.
Bowie, whose surprise death of cancer in January came days after a new album release, outsold both Presley and Jackson in albums and singles in 2016, but the British singer's overall estimated earnings were a comparatively small $10.5 million, which put him in 11th place, Forbes said.
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.