Michael Jackson Finishes as 2009's Third Top-Earning Dead Celebrity

Wednesday, Oct 28, 2009  |  Updated 5:15 PM PDT
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Michael Jackson Finishes as 2009's Third Top-Earning Dead Celebrity

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Michael Jackson's This Is It opens in theaters across the country Oct. 28 for a limited two-week engagement. The film was generated from 100 hours of behind-the-scenes coverage of MJ's rehearsals for his London O2 Arena concerts from April to June.

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Michael Jackson might be the King of Pop, but when it comes to bringing in the bucks even after death, fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent still tops the charts.

Forbes recently revealed their annual list of "Top-Earning Dead Celebrities," with Saint Laurent – who died of brain cancer in June 2008 — grossing $350 million over the past 12 months.

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The bulk of YSL's earnings came in a three-day estate sale in February, run by Christie's auction house, which sold off many of the French icon's possessions, including expensive art, antiques and furniture.

Coming in second on the list this year was Broadway legendary duo Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein (who died in 1979 and 1960, respectively), who brought in a combined $235 million thanks to catalog licensing fees.

VIEW THE PHOTOS: In Memoriam: The Stars We Lost During Summer 2009

In the four months since Michael Jackson's death, his estate has brought in $90 million, according to Forbes – placing the King of Pop third on the list.

Adding to Jackson's total was the $60 million Sony shelled out for the rights to "This Is It," which had its world premiere on Tuesday night.

Not to be outdone – Michael's music also garnered huge profits since his untimely passing on June 25, selling an estimated 9 million albums worldwide, in addition to more than 5.5 million digital downloads.

VIEW THE PHOTOS: Hollywood Remembers Michael Jackson

While the King of Pop finished third on Forbes' list, the King of Rock wasn't far behind.

Elvis Presley's estate earned $55 million between October 1, 2008 and October 1, 2009 – a $3 million boost from a year ago, thanks to licensing/merchandising deals and admissions to the Graceland property.

Of note, both Michael and Elvis out-earned several notable living music acts, as well. Bon Jovi raked in $50 million over the past 12 months and pop princess Britney Spears earned $35 million.

Rounding out the top five is "Hobbit" creator; author J.R.R. Tolkien, whose works brought in $50 million.

Tolkien, who died in 1973, earned the bulk of the cash after settling a long-standing lawsuit with New Line Cinema over the profits of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

Forbes' Complete Top 10 Top-Earning Dead Celebrities:
1. Yves Saint Laurent, $350 million
2. Rodgers & Hammerstein, $235 million
3. Michael Jackson, $90 million
4. Elvis Presley, $55 million
5. J.R.R. Tolkien, $50 million
6. Charles Schulz, $35 million
7. John Lennon, $15 million
8. Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss), $15 million
9. Albert Einstein, $10 million
10. Michael Crichton, $9 million

Related Content from AccessHollywood.com:
PLAY IT NOW: Paris Hilton: Michael Jackson Had A 'Heart Of Gold'
PLAY IT NOW: Jackson Brothers Very Emotional After Seeing Michael Jackson's 'This Is It'

MORE ACCESS ON THESE TOPICS: Michael Jackson - This Is It - Music - TV One

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