11 Top-Earning Dead Celebrities

VIDEO:  Rob Shuter on the late singer's estate and legacy.
ABCNEWS.com

You either have it or you don't. Some celebrities have staying power and some have eternal staying power. As the entertainment world mourns the death of Whitney Houston this week, sales of her music top charts once again. Houston holds Billboard's record for most consecutive No. 1 singles, having won seven from 1985 to 1988.

The soundtrack for "The Bodyguard" stands as the longest-reigning album by a woman in the 56-year history of Billboard's 200 chart list.

Keith Caulfield, Billboard's associate director of charts, said Houston's greatest hits album will re-enter Billboard's Top 10 chart possibly this week. Already 50,000 copies of the album were sold in the first day or two after her death. Yahoo reported a 31600 percent spike in searches for Houston's name after her death.

Houston is expected to earn another $10 million this year posthumously, which will likely lead to her inclusion in Forbes' list of top-earning dead celebrities.

Here's Forbes' current list of celebrity estates that have earned the most.

$170 million

PHOTO: Michael Jackson preforms in Brunei, July 16, 1996.
Francis Sylvain/AFP/Getty Images
1.
Michael Jackson

The King of Pop led Forbes' list of top-earning dead celebrities two years in a row, bringing in $170 million last year. Although he died on June 25, 2009, at the age of 50, from a drug overdose, Jackson still made headlines last year when his doctor, Conrad Murray, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Jackson was the second-highest-earning musical act last year, dead or alive, after U2, according to Forbes.

$55 million

PHOTO: Elvis Presley is seen in this file photo circa 1970.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
2.
Elvis Presley

The King of Rock and Roll earned most of his posthumous earnings through his Graceland mansion in Memphis last year. Like Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley also has a Cirque du Soleil show called Viva Elvis. Presley died Aug. 16, 1977, at the age of 42, from a heart attack.

$27 million

PHOTO: Marilyn Monroe sits at a banquet table during a party for studio executive Darryl F Zanuck in the Hollywood Hilton, Hollywood, Calif., early 1950s.
Murray Garrett/Getty Images
3.
Marilyn Monroe

Before the movie "My Week With Marilyn" was released in October, Authentic Brands Group, which manages the estate of Bob Marley, bought the rights to Marilyn Monroe's estate. The actress's image and likeness is to be used for such products as handbags and shoes.

Monroe also co-starred with actress Charlize Theron in an ad for Christian Dior's J'Adore fragrance.

Monroe died on Aug. 5, 1962, at age 36, from a drug overdose.

$25 million

PHOTO: Charles Schulz, Creator Of The Peanuts Comic Strip, is seen May 19, 1987.
Matthew Naythons/Getty Images
4.
Charles Schulz

The estate of Charlie Brown's creator, Charles Schulz, received a boost after Iconix purchased an 80 percent stake in his comic brand, creating Peanuts Worldwide, in 2010. Forbes reported that Schulz's characters have about 1,200 licensing agreements for such products as video games and e-books.

Schultz died Feb. 12, 2000, at the age of 77, from colon cancer.

$12 million

PHOTO: John Lennon is pictured during the making of the film 'Imagine.'
Tom Hanley/Redferns/Getty Images
5.
John Lennon

After the Beatles' music was finally distributed through iTunes, the band sold 1.6 million albums in 2010, the 10th best of any artist dead or alive, according to Forbes. That has provided royalties for band members like John Lennon, who was killed on Dec. 8, 1980, at age 40. His estate also benefits from Cirque du Soleil's the Beatles Love show.

$12 million

PHOTO: Elizabeth Taylor poses with her Oscar at the 65th Annual Academy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on March 29, 1993 in Los Angeles, California.
Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images
6.
Elizabeth Taylor

In addition to Elizabeth Taylor's movie classics like "Cleopatra" and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" her successful, long-lived perfume line has brought millions of dollars in sales. In December, Christie's auctioned off Elizabeth Taylor's jewelry and clothing, raising $183 million. Taylor died on March 23, 2011, 79, of heart failure.

$10 million

PHOTO: Mathematical physicist Albert Einstein is seen in this 1933 file photo.
Keystone/Getty Images
7.
Albert Einstein

The likeness of renowned scientist Albert Einstein exudes the kind of intelligence marketers seem to love, inspiring Baby Einstein products, Chrysler's Ram truck ads and even glasses, Forbes reported.

The scientist's name has also been used for a Nintendo DS brain game, Forbes' Dorothy Pomerantz reported.

The German-born physicist died on April 18, 1955, at age 76.

$9 million

PHOTO: Theodor Seuss Geisel sits at his drafting table in his home office with a copy of his book, 'The Cat in the Hat', La Jolla, California, April 25, 1957.
Gene Lester/Getty Images
8.
Theodor Seuss Geisel

The estate of Theodor Seuss Geisel, or Dr. Seuss, continues to receive royalties from his children's books, including "The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories," which was published in September by Random House. His books are still licensed for animated and live-action films, including "The Lorax," which will be released on March 2 from Universal Pictures.

Geisel died on Sept. 24, 1991, at age 87.

$7 million

PHOTO: Jimi Hendrix is seen circa 1970.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
9.
Jimi Hendrix

The music of guitarist Jimi Hendrix continues to live on long after his death. Last year, Amazon offered an exclusive fifth CD to his four-disc concert series, "Winterland." Two live-show DVDs were also released, capturing the young musician's lively performances.

Hendrix died on Sept. 18, 1970, at age 27.

$7 million

PHOTO: Stieg Larsson is shown in this file photo.
Newscom
10.
Stieg Larsson

Author Stieg Larsson did not live to see the global success of his three-book series that began with "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo." He died Nov. 9, 2004, at age 50, from a heart attack. More than 40 million copies of his books have been sold, and Sony's film version was released in December after a Danish version in 2009.

$7 million

PHOTO: Actor Steve McQueen is seen during the shooting of his last movie "The Hunter," in 1980.
AFP/Getty Images
11.
Steve McQueen

Actor Steve McQueen still exudes cool in ads for luxury brands Dolce & Gabbana and Persol sunglasses, Forbes reports. He also became the face for recent campaigns of designer Tommy Hilfiger and investment bank UBS. McQueen died on Nov. 30, 1980, at the age of 50.

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