Michael Jackson is the richest deceased musician, but also richer than most every musician alive


Image Credit: Solarpix/PR Photos

Michael Jackson has been dead for more than 28 months, but thanks to the ugly ongoing trial of Dr. Conrad Murray and the steady stream of tributes in MJ’s memory, his passing still feels quite fresh. Time certainly hasn’t slowed the stream of posthumous income for Jackson, who according to Forbes is the most successful dead celebrity and is the number two money-maker among all musicians.

Between October 2010 and October 2011, Jackson pulled in $170 million thanks to music sales and licensing. That’s down from the $275 million he made the previous year, but his album sales remain pretty steady, and the income from the just-launched Cirque Du Soleil production Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour could keep him at the top of the list for a while.

It’s not surprising that Jackson earns so much more than other dead celebrities, but it’s a little shocking that he takes in more than almost any other living musician. Over the past year, only U2 made more money than Jackson, and they had to go on a lengthy, health-threatening tour that ended up being the most lucrative of all time.

Obviously, a lot of these Jackson-centric projects and renewed record sales would not be what they are had he not passed away, but even still, these are singularly impressive numbers. When you consider the richest musicians, almost all of their income is derived from touring, which is why there’s always so much turnover from year to year (if Bruce Springsteen doesn’t tour, he makes significantly less based on back catalog sales and licensing alone).

Though Lady Gaga sold a million copies of Born This Way in a week, the money she cleared on that album is chicken feed compared to the dump trucks full of cash her Monster Ball tour brought in.

Legacy acts can rely on album sales up to a point (especially if they are like AC/DC and don’t ever release a greatest-hits album), but the road still represents the big bucks. When Jackson’s posthumous income flirts with a quarter of a billion dollars next year, he’ll have touring (or “touring,” as a hologram) to thank as well.

Read more on EW.com:
Michael Jackson Remembered
Janet Jackson reschedules Australian tour to attend Conrad Murray trial
‘Michael Forever': Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Cee Lo Green, and Michael Jackson’s children appear at controversial tribute show

Comments (68 total) Add your comment
Page: 1 2 3 4
  • Asha

    I think he faked his death because he knew he was worth more dead than alive.

    • DH

      Well if MJ is somewhere chillin with Tupac I hope Katherine does as Ms. Shakur and build arts centers etc. to support kids!!!! It is sad MJs GREEDY siblings are writing books etc. profiting off the REAL talent of the family! How adorable Patty is 12 and thinks MJ is the greatest…when I was 12 I LOVED the J5 to sweety!!! hahahaha

    • james

      I have to agree there is loads of proof on the internet to show that he had his death faked to save his life and may have had help from the FBI

  • patty

    Micheal Jackson is the worlds most loved singer entertainment there ever was .I am 12 or so days other then him that makes him real special to and my s/o was one of his present fan club. He’ll always be in our hearts. also in this is it my faviort part is when the little girl comes out add he talks about the amazon being gone,God Bless

  • Phil

    Was he REALLY rich though? I mean how much was he spending? He always lived a lavish lifestyle even when he was on trial, and and originally went to Bahrain and then lived off the royalty there…I dunno, they can say he is worth whatever, but I dunno, between his lavish lifestyle, the medicines/drugs he was buying himself….the hush money he spent on people close to him to ‘keep all his secrets’ (security, lawyers, etc.) I just don’t know how many millions he actually has for his kids…assuming his greedy siblings don’t take what they want since the kids are all minors.
    And I’m not hating, so all you MJ superfans keep your comments to yourself. I’m thinking like a LOGICAL, functioning member of society, not some blind moron.

    • Zaira

      You are LOGICAL, but you are based on what media says. Do some research and you will find out that he was not spending too much money, he used to have money issuse b/c of his bad administration team. Read , search… don’t believe in everything you see in the media.

      Sorry for my english.

    • ABC

      Well, you have to be logical and you also have to look for the facts. Fact number 1 is MJ set up a trust in 90s and make sure that no one but his kids can touch those money. Katherine is in his will but only when KJ is alive she can have monthly allowance (that’s why all the Jacksons are so eager to use his name to profit now and discredit his estate because they can’t touch his money.) The fact number 2 is he own half of the SONY/ATV which worth more than 2 billions and generate millions per year. The financial problem he had when he was alive is he didn’t have enough “cash flow” so he needed the concert to bring in “cash” ASAP. However, his network still worth a lot. and what’s all those drug comments? Fact number 3 is the autopsy report showed that the only drug found in his body was given by Dr. Murray that night and no other drug or alcohol found. The only drug found in his house was prescribed for his illness. Get the facts before you comment and stop blindly calling his fans as blindly moron. I don’t see how calling people blindly moron without solid fact is what a function member of society should do.

      • Phil

        Unless you are a direct family member, any autopsy report can be doctored, and most usually are. And for all you people claiming, you are going on what the media says, I WORK IN THE MEDIA, and covered his death with alot more sensitivity than alot of people did. or continue to do, but I am not some blind sheep. I make conclusions on my own, and I just many of his fans only wanna see what they want and not the whole picture, which is fine, but thats whI I said the term blind morons.
        You don’t know the man other than the music he made, and the random interviews he gave (which were heavily structured PR wise). Your facts are things you THINk you’ve come to learn about the man, but at the end of the day you’re going off blind faith and not actually ‘knowing Michael’ in the slightest. And thats whats laughable.He was human, and made mistakes, and yes alot of them were by trusting the wrong people. And I never said anything wrong. He did have secret epmloyees that covered up alot of his life, and if he didn’t have so many secrets, perhaps he would still be alive. In my personal opinion its the secrets that killed him. The same secrets that made him unable to sleep, and to seek out the use of propofol, so by following that line of logic, how am I wrong?

    • deniz

      Before you judge about him, please do some research about his great humanitarian works,(helping many poor and sick children, spending more than 300 million dollars for charity, advising whole the world to peace and …….). you are just talking about some wrong news which have been made up just to make money out of them, please stop doing biased judgement about him. his fans are people who have much information about his life and his great works and that’s why they love him.

  • Diego

    He is making more money because of The Beatles, I dont how he obtained their music that why he was not a good friend of Mr Paul McCartney.

    • Greg

      He gave Mr. Mccartney fair warning he told him he was going buy the beatles catalog, But make no mistake Mr.Jacksons catalog is so much more valuable.

    • Ga

      Diego, you don’t know what you are talking about. HAHAHAHA

    • Moi

      Uh . . . no, he is not rich because of the Beatles.

      Anyway, MJ bought their catalog fair and square. He had John Branca ask both Yoko Ono and Paul McCartney whether they were bidding on the catalog or not, because he didn’t want to bid against them. Ono and McCartney said they were NOT BIDDING. So then Jackson purchased the catalog. That’s that.

      McCartney’s issue was that he wanted to renegotiate his contract to pay him more money or something like that (he explained it a 2009 interview). Jackson, however, did not. *shrug*

    • marie

      Excuse me Diego but who is Beatles? HAHAHAH!!! No one knows their songs, or any of their albums. Have you heard of Thriller? You should cuz it’s the Best Selling Album of ALL Time. It has sold 110 million copies. Beatles album is NOWHERE!!! MJ has 5 albums listed on Worldwide Best Selling Album of ALL Time.

      And this tabloid junkie! MJ earned more than U2. Excuse me! But as of June 2011, MJ had earned $400 million. Nobody knows about U2. This fake media is a FAILED attempt to promote U2 by comparing them to MJ. And again like I said, it’s a FAILED attempt.

      MJ is the Greatest Entertainer of ALL Time. Let me remind you that he died while rehearsing for a 50 sold out concert tour in London. Remember he’s is NOT touring. His fans are willing to travel to see him. Who else has fans that would do that? ONLY MJ!!! The undisputed KING!

      • True Blue

        “Excuse me Diego but who is Beatles? HAHAHAH!!! No one knows their songs, or any of their albums.”

        PLEASE tell me you’re deliberately trolling.

  • Zaza

    Shut up Phil, you don’t have that ZaZa, and we don’t need your “not hating” declaration, nor the need to know that you are a functioning member of society.

    • Phil

      telling someone to shut up while sitting behind a keyboard is quite the declaration!! And I don’t want your ZaZa…it sounds worse than inhailing propofol !

  • Glenda in Texas

    Michael Jackson was always rich. You only saw what Michael Jackson wanted you to see. He never paid any “hush money” to anyone. He is an innocent and caring person that loved children. It’s silly to think that Michael Jackson is making the bulk of his money just because he owns the catalog which, btw, happens to include The Beatles music (it has other artists music too). McCartney and Ono had the opportunity to purchase the catalog but chose not to. Jackson was an astute business man and was still a friend of McCartney. Do your research please. Thank you.

    • Phil

      You Madamae are a complete MORON. If there was no such thing as the ‘hush money’ I mention, why would there be such an extensive trial right now with Dr. Murray IF Michael never employed him to give him illegal narcotics!? I wish people would actually think before typing ridiculousness!

      • Ga

        WOW.. PHIL You are a MORON !! Illigal narcotics ??LOL What are you talking about? Medicine are LEGAL . There were not illegal narcotics. DO some research. I wish people like you actually think and read before typing ridicousness.

      • Phil

        The amounts he was taking for HIMSELF, and the shipments the doctor’s gf claimed to receive at her home well exceeded any legal doses for 1 person. Your comment is hilarious and hysterical. What? You gonna say next that the doctor had other patients he was caring for and used propofol on too? You guys are fanatics, you’re like heretics refusing to see the light! You dont even need to be a doctor to know this stuff.

      • Moi

        Please, everyone. Let’s operate in the world of facts. Jackson was not taking any narcotics in 2009. Propofol is an anesthetic . . . it’s not addictive, it won’t get you high, you can’t “withdraw” from it (because it’s not addictive), and you cannot develop a tolerance to it, etc.

        All the other medication if Jackson’s house were perfectly legal (anxiety meds, some oral sleeping meds, prednisone for lupus, etc.) — and they were all either used exactly as directed or under-used, with many left over from old prescription dates, etc. Heck, MJ often cut his lorazapam pills (used for insomnia) in half. Doesn’t indicate someone who is med-crazy.

        Just someone very cautious, but also desperate for sleep.

  • Jalen

    Dear phil not only are you a jackass but your also an idiot! there was never any “hush money” involved in of the Michael Jackson cases if anything there was “talk money” the media paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to get housmaids of Michael lie to gain fame. Some of these people came out and admitted they lied but others still hold on to the lies so say what you want phil but facts are Michael was a loving man who manipulated and driven to a deep state oppression because of leeches and cold hearted monsters!!!!

    • Phil

      “hush Money” was a broad term to use, but I thought it was appropriate. Please DO NOT refer to me as an idiot or a jackass simply because I’m smart enough to know whats what. The very illegal amounts of drugs Michael was taking by a doctor that VERY few, other than the folks trying to get him to appear at those concerts, and ultimately killed him, whether it was the doctor’s fault or NOT, all fall under the term of HUSH MONEY to me, because GUESS WHAT!? It wasn’t something talked about (the hush part) and was paid for without many people in the MJ camp knowing!! Wow! Woulda look at that? Kinda makes sense. How you can call someone an idiot is beyond reasoning. You can be an MJ fanatic til you die but show yourself some respect and smarts and see that the man that you are praising was indeed involved in illegal and illicit activities surrounding both his physical appearance and health. You can praise him all you want, but seriously WAKE UP and realize that he his alot of things from hiw family and the fans. He was a rich celebrity, but he stopped being a role model a VERY long time ago.

      • Phil

        *hid alot of things from his family and the fans.

      • Tan


        You have no clue what you are talking about. The doctor on trial was on the concert promoter’s pay roll, not Michael Jackson’s. The doctor on trial bought egregious amounts of propofol, not Michael Jackson. So your hush money theory is all innuendo. Michael Jackson will always be a role model because he continues to inspire artists everyday.

      • Phil

        Dear Tan…if what you said is true, why isn’t MJ still alive? The trial is a circus in which the Jackson family, like you and many other delusional fans, are looking for a scapegoat instead of living in reality. But in a sense that also makes you a TRUE MJ fan, cause you are apparently living in the world he lived in. Anyone that attempts to take on too much, and needs that many drugs to get through rehearsals are more concerned with fame than their own well being, what a lovely & inspiring message to pass along to his kids & fans all around the world.

      • Tan


        That is exactly the point -he is not alive because of a negligent doctor hired by his concert promoter.

  • Marie

    Michael Jackson was a billionaire when he was alive but he also had huge debts. Now he is a billionaire again thanks to his grieving fans and his money-making estate.

  • gabriel obakpolor

    mj is man hey gone too soon he is a great and honest musician

  • Zaza

    Phil, your zaza stinks. You comment all day on here, and now I am turning into you, but I did laugh when you wrote you didn’t want my zaza becauses it sounded worse than inhailing propofol.

  • Travis

    Phil- I gotta say dude , MJ was a talented guy who inspired many people and still does. He might have been a drug addict in his later few years but his message of equality and love are still very relevant. You also can’t deny his mad talent . I know I’m not some delusional fan living in a fantasy land but I also realize that MJ had the best intentions at heart and was misunderstood many times. His songs preach love, respect, environmental awareness and equality. That’s gotta count for something.

  • san

    Mj was the best ever was

  • dixie

    Michael did not fake his death!

  • mjfan

    all Elvis s narcotics were legal too dont mean they cant be mis used

  • Pud

    I think I’m going to hurl.

Page: 1 2 3 4
Add your comment
The rules: Keep it clean, and stay on the subject - or we may delete your comment. If you see inappropriate language, e-mail us. An asterisk (*) indicates a required field.

When you click on the "Post Comment" button above to submit your comments, you are indicating your acceptance of and are agreeing to the Terms of Service. You can also read our Privacy Policy.

Latest Videos in Music


From Our Partners

TV Recaps

Powered by WordPress.com VIP