In a "Thriller" of a pre-Halloween revelation, Michael Jackson has once again been crowned top-earning dead celebrity, raking in more than $1 billion since his sudden death in 2009.
Jackson moonwalked all the way to the bank from beyond the grave, earning $115 million in album and merchandise in the last year alone as he clinched the cash crown for the fourth year in a row, Forbes reports.
MJ's frightfully high earnings have scared up more than $1 billion in post-mortem cash for his swelling estate, nearly outpacing the $1.1 billion he made when he was alive.
Elvis Presley was the second highest-paid dead celeb with $55 million grossed in 2015 and “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz was number three with $40 million. Reggae legend Bob Marley ($21 million) and Old Hollywood siren Elizabeth Taylor ($20 million) rounded out the top five.
“When a composer [or] a performer dies, that’s it,” Josh Rubenstein, National Chair of Trusts and Estates at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, told Forbes. “It’s no more…once they’re dead and there can’t be any more [work], all of the sudden everybody comes in and says, ‘Oh, we’ve got to get this guy.’”
Jackson’s continued fortunes have been generated by the Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil show “Michael Jackson One,” his Mijac Music catalog, recorded music sales and ownership of half of the Sony/ATV publishing empire. Earlier this month, Sony indicated it might sell half of its catalog to an outside bidder, which could yield yet another ghoulish windfall for the Jackson estate.
But it being so close to Halloween, it's worth revisiting the John Landis-directed, zombie-infested video for "Thriller" that truly launched Jackson to superstardom: