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Michael Jackson is the richest dead celebrity

A celebrity gossip junky, Caroline Goddard has been writing entertainment news for longer than the world has known Kim Kardashian's name. Follow her on Twitter at @GoddardCaroline.

Jackson tops dead celebrity list

Michael Jackson is the year's top-earning dead celebrity, according to Forbes magazine.

Jackson tops dead celebrity list

Michael Jackson is worth more dead than alive. He -- or more accurately, his estate -- has earned $279 million since his death. The only other celebrity, dead or alive, that earned more in the same time period was Oprah Winfrey.

Forbes writer Lacey Rose said, "Jackson's spot atop our top earning dead celebrities list should come as no surprise given the renewed fan interest in music, videos and all things Michael Jackson."

Here's how it shakes out: Of that $279 million, $51 million is from album sales and radio airplay, $51 million is from his video game, memorabilia and the re-released autobiography, and the rest was generated through his This Is It concert film and Cirque du Soleil show.

"Thanks to a lucrative catalogue, hit film and album sales, the late king of pop earned more in the last year than Lady Gaga, Madonna and Jay-Z, combined," said Rose.

Remember, though, that at the time of his death Jackson was $507 million in debt, and claims are still being made on his estate. In fact, a court just shot down Joe Jackson's challenge of the executors of his son's will.

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