Elvis tops list of posthumous earners

They may no longer be in the land of the living but that is clearly a minor impediment in their eternal attempts to amass a fortune.

Yesterday, a somewhat macabre list detailing the highest earning dead celebrities in the past year was unveiled.

King of the posthumous earners was Elvis Presley, who has not allowed his death 27 years ago to prevent a healthy inflation of his bank account. His annual income last year, based on admissions to Graceland, licencing and merchandising, was cited as £21.8m.

Presley's position was revealed on a list compiled annually by Forbes.com, the American business website.

He was closely followed by Charles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts cartoon, who amassed an annual income of £19.1m. In third place was JRR Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings, who, bolstered by the success of the film version of his trilogy, generated £12.5m.

"The earning power of most deceased people, even famous ones, slows considerably or stops altogether when they die," a spokesman for Forbes.com said. "But for a select few the paycheques keep coming and some draw even bigger paydays than when they were alive."

In the case of Presley, who died of a heart attack aged 42, it appears he is destined to be outlived by a long stretch by his ever-growing fortune. The earnings are amassed by Elvis Presley Enterprises, which is owned by his daughter Lisa Marie.

Other late celebrities featured in the annual list, which is in its fourth year, included John Lennon, the former Beatle, who came fourth with a £11.4m annual income. He was followed by Theodor Geisel, the man behind the Cat in the Hat and Dr Seuss, with a £9.8m fortune.

Marilyn Monroe was in sixth place with £4.3m, followed by George Harrison, the former Beatle, the composer Irving Berlin and the reggae star Bob Marley, who came joint seventh with £3.8m each. Dr Robert Atkins, the late diet guru who has enjoyed posthumous fame, fell off the list this year.