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They may be dead, but these celebrities are nonetheless making money

October 30, 2009 | 11:11 am

It's that time of year, when Forbes magazine releases its annual list of top-earning dead celebrities. You might think Michael Jackson would top the list, since his estate has opened the floodgates with music and a film, "This Is It," to satisfy consumer demand for all things MJ in the wake of his unexpected death in June.

Laurent But no, holding on to the No.1 spot is French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. Laurent died of brain cancer at age 71 in June 2008. Boosted by the auction of much of his estate at Christie's in February, more than $350 million has been raked in during the last 12 months, Forbes reported.

Coming in No. 2 is the team of composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein, the duo responsible for such Broadway and movie musicals as "South Pacific," "The King and I," "The Sound of Music," "Carousel" and "Oklahoma!" Rodgers died in 1979 and Hammerstein in 1960, but they still combined to earn $235 million in the last year.

Then Jackson shows up at No. 3 with $90 million.

The rest of the list, according to Forbes:

4. Elvis Presley, $55 million.

5. J.R.R. Tolkien, $50 million.

6. Charles Schulz, $35 million.

7. John Lennon, $15 million.

8. Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss), $15 million.

9. Albert Einstein, $10 million.

10. Michael Crichton, $9 million.

The full Forbes coverage is here.

-- Claire Noland

Photo: Fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent at his London boutique in 1969. Credit: Associated Press