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article imageYves Saint Laurent tops Forbes' list of richest dead celebrities

By Heidi Lowry     Oct 29, 2009 in Entertainment
Yves Saint Laurent, the French fashion icon who passed away in June 2008 of brain cancer at age 71, earned more than Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and J.R.R. Tolkien.
Forbes released its annual list of top-earning dead celebrities who collectively raked in over $875 million in 2009 from the afterlife.
Saint Laurent, in his first appearance on the magazine's ninth annual morbid compilation, made the top spot due to a 3-day estate auction held by Christie's in February. Art, antiques, furniture and other possessions owned by the designer and his partner were sold for a total of $350 million. Proceeds were distributed among the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation and a new, unnamed philanthropic group that will support AIDS research.
In November, another auction will be held and will include items like YSL's Mercedes Benz, and Greek and Etruscan artifacts he collected. His Moroccan home is also currently on the market.
Michael Jackson, who died on June 25, came in third, making $90 million in just four months. Since his untimely passing, the King of Pop has sold more than nine million albums and 5.5 million digital downloads. This Is It, a new film that documents his life, was released worldwide on Oct. 28 and has already received glowing reviews.
Overall, the 13 richest passed icons of 2009 were: Yves Saint Laurent ($350 million), Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein ($235 million), Michael Jackson ($90 million), Elvis Presley ($55 million), J.R.R. Tolkien ($50 million), Charles Schulz ($35 million), John Lennon ($15 million), Dr. Seuss ($15 million), Albert Einstein ($10 million), Michael Crichton ($9 million), Jimi Hendrix ($8 million), Aaron Spelling ($8 million) and Andy Warhol ($6 million).
The magazine also notes that many of these dead celebs make more money each year than living stars like Britney Spears ($35 million) and Bon Jovi ($50 million). Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and Steve McQueen, who have appeared in the top 13 slots previous years, dropped off the list in 2009. Gross earnings are estimated each year by talking to agents, lawyers and others from the celebrity's estate to determine the sum before taxes and other fees are applied.
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