The 12 highest-paid dead celebrities of 2018

The late Playboy founder Hugh Hefner made the top 10 highest-earning dead celebrities list this year. Charley Gallay / Stringer / Getty Images

Bob Dylan once wrote: “When you’re sad and when you’re lonely, And you haven’t got a friend, Just remember that death is not the end.”

Dylan’s words ring true, at least in the financial sense, in this year’s list of highest-paid dead celebrities, released by Forbes on Wednesday.

Though their souls have departed our mortal Earth, many celebrities continue to rake in significant amounts of revenue posthumously.

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In order to produce the list, Forbes measured pretax earnings from October 1, 2017 through October 1, 2018 before deducting fees for agents, managers, lawyers, and estate executors.

This year, the “King of Pop” Michael Jackson reigns supreme after his stake in EMI Music Publishing was sold for $US287 million in May.

Scroll down to see the 12 highest-earning dead celebrities this year.

12. Muhammad Ali — $US8 million

Since dying from septic shock in 2016, Muhammed Ali’s estate has received earnings from a lawsuit against Fox Broadcasting who used the boxer’s image and likeness in a Super Bowl ad without consent.

11. XXXTentacion — $US11 million

Rapper XXXTentacion was shot dead during an apparent robbery in June this year.

The controversial artist, who was facing domestic abuse charges at the time of his death, notched his first Billboard No. 1 posthumously with his song “Sad!” He was the first person to do so since Notorious B.I.G.

Wild vigils were held by fans for the rapper, leading the police to intervene in some cases.

10. John Lennon — $US12 million

‘The Beatles’ singer, songwriter and guitarist John Lennon. Roy Kerwood, Wikimedia Commons

According to Forbes, former Beatles singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Lennon continues to sell nearly two million albums a year.

9. Prince — $US13 million


Prince sold around 250,000 physical albums over the last year,Forbes reports.

The singer died of a drug overdose in 2016, aged 57.

8. Marilyn Monroe — $US14 million


The world’s most famous pin-up model earned money from new licensing deals including Montblanc pens this year, Forbes says.

7. Hugh Hefner — $US15 million

The late Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. Charley Gallay / Stringer / Getty Images

The late founder of Playboy magazine died of a heart attack last year.

According to Forbes, the remainder of his estate has been sold by his heirs for $US35 million.

6. Dr. Seuss — $US16 million

Beloved children’s author Dr Seuss continues to rake in sales from his ever-popular books, which range from “Green Eggs and Ham” to “The Cat in the Hat.”

His book “The Lorax” was immortalised in film in 2012.

5. Bob Marley — $US23 million

Bob Marley in concert from an unspecified date. Keystone/Getty Images

The man responsible for bringing Reggae into the mainstream made bank from products such as headphones and smoking accessories,Forbes says.

4. Charles Schulz — $US34 million

The creator of “Snoopy” died of colon cancer in 2000, aged 77.

His original cartoon strips have been printed and sold in great numbers since his death.

3. Arnold Palmer — $US35 million

Legendary golfer Arnold Palmer continues to draw revenue from his beverage line and golf courses.

2. Elvis Presley — $US40 million

“The King of Rock and Roll” continues to shift more than one million albums a year, Forbes says.

His former home, now a popular tourist destination called Graceland, is also a big earner for the “Jailhouse Rock” singer, as is a new entertainment complex called Elvis Presley’s Memphis.

1. Michael Jackson — $US400 million


“The King of Pop” is leagues ahead of all other dead celebrities in terms of earnings, bringing in $US287 million this year for the sale of his stake in EMI Music Publishing to Sony.

It’s his sixth consecutive year at the top of Forbes’ table since dying of an overdose and cardiac arrest in 2009.