Marley no longer in top five - Drops down the list of highest earning dead celebs

October 14, 2016
Michael Jackson
Bob Marley

For the past three years, Jamaica's most recognisable reggae icon, Bob Marley, has made the list of Top-Earning Dead Celebrities, compiled and published by

But this year, while maintaining an average of US$20 million in each year, Marley has been kicked out of the top-five highest-paid dead celebrities, with surges from the Michael Jackson camp and the recent deaths of pop icons Prince and David Bowie, and American golfer Arnold Palmer.

"The singer's mellow mug can be seen on everything from messenger bags to T-shirts to a line of fruit-flavoured drinks," wrote Forbes' contributor Dorothy Pomerantz in her compilation in 2014. That year, Marley was listed in fifth place.

In 2015, the reggae icon moved up the rankings, to fourth place, switching places with American actress Elizabeth Taylor, whose posthumous wealth continues to roll in from fragrance sales, who moved to fifth.

"Album sales aren't really what keeps Marley alive on our ranking. Instead, it's in his House of Marley audio products, Marley's Mellow Mood beverages and merchandise sales," wrote Forbes staff writer Zack O'Malley Greenburg.

This year, Marley ranks sixth, below the recently deceased golfer Arnold Palmer, who swings in at third position, earning US$40 million dollars from his successful beverage business, and sensational pop icon, Prince, who falls in fifth-earning US$25 million.

The only position that has remained static on the list for the past three years is first place, held by the King of Pop Michael Jackson. Since his death in 2009, the Jackson estate has reported stunning earnings which have remained in the triple-digit millions.

According to Greenburg: "The March sale of Michael Jackson's half of the Sony/ATV music publishing catalogue, famous for its library of Beatles tunes, for $750 million puts him at the top of our annual ranking of the top-earning dead celebrities, an ironic finish given that many critics and even advisors once derided the catalogue as a badly overpriced investment. Jackson's total pretax payday of $825 million ranks as the biggest annual haul by any celeb, dead or alive."

Top-Earning Dead Celebrities 2016

10. Bettie Page, model - 11 million

9. Albert Einstein, scientist - 11.5 million

8. John Lennon, singer - 12 million

7. Theodor "Dr Seuss" Geisel, author - 20 million

6. Bob Marley, singer - 21 million

5. Prince, singer - 25 million

4. Elvis Presley, singer - 27 million

3. Arnold Palmer, golfer - 40 million

2. Charles Schultz, cartoonist - 48 million.

1. Michael Jackson - 825 million

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