Elvis heads the chart of posthumous earners

Elvis Presley died exactly 25 year ago this Friday but he still generates the sort of money that many current performers can only dream of.

The King earned $37m (£24.1m) in the past year alone, putting him at the top of an "Earnings from the Crypt" list compiled by Forbes.com, an American business website.

With the 25th anniversary of his death marked by his 18th number one in the British singles charts, a remixed version of "A Little Less Conversation", and a four-CD box set due out in America next month, his money-making ability shows no sign of diminishing. His earnings in 2001 surpassed those of the previous year when Forbes also ranked him the world's highest-earning dead celebrity, with an income of $35m.

This year's list sees Charles Schulz, creator of the Peanuts comic strips, maintaining second place with earnings of $28m (£18.2m) and the former Beatle John Lennon still in third place – though shared – with an income unchanged at about $20m (£13m).

J R R Tolkien, rediscovered by millions thanks to the new film version of The Lord of the Rings, moved from eighth place to seventh with earnings up from $7m to $12m (£7.8m).

New entrants include Dale Earnhardt, a legend of American sports car racing who was killed in a crash in February last year. He stormed in to share third place with Lennon.

And a second Beatle, George Harrison, makes sixth position with $17m (£11.1m).

Tupac Shakur, the rapper who was shot in Las Vegas six years ago, also enters the list with $7m (£4.5m), thanks to the release of more albums since his death than were issued during his lifetime. The figure puts him on a par with Marilyn Monroe, who marginally improved from a year ago when she was at number 12.

The singer Frank Sinatra, ranked in ninth place last year, and the artist Andy Warhol, who was at number seven, fall out of the top 13.

The list, in its second year, is compiled by calculating pre-tax earnings for the estate of each deceased person from licensing agreements, book and record sales. The site said: "One might not think of death as an optimal career move, but for some celebrities, crossing over to the far side doesn't hurt their income in the least. It's been a good year for the dead."

Profit-turning in their graves

Elvis Presley £24.1m
Charles Schulz (right) £18.2m
John Lennon £13m
Dale Earnhardt £13m
Theodor 'Dr Seuss' Geisel £12.8m
George Harrison £11.1m
JRR Tolkien £7.8m
Bob Marley £6.5m
Jimi Hendrix £5.2m
Tupac Shakur £4.5m
Marilyn Monroe (right) £4.5m
Jerry Garcia £3.2m
Robert Ludlum £3.2m

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