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Michael Jackson was No. 3 on the same list last year. ((Danny Moloshok/Associated Press))

Michael Jackson, who died in 2009, has hit the top of the earnings chart for dead celebrities, with $275 million US in licensing and sales revenue.

"Jackson's spot atop our top-earning dead celebrities list should come as no surprise given the renewed fan interest in music, videos and all things Michael Jackson," Forbes writer Lacey Rose said

Forbes magazine released its annual list, which attributed Jackson's No. 1 standing to a massive deal signed his estate signed with Sony in March and the anticipation of an album of unreleased music due out in November.

That's in addition to sales of a video game, memorabilia and a re-released autobiography were worth another $50 million US. As well, his estate netted $60 million for This is It, a film of his rehearsals for his concerts at London's 02 arena, which had to be scrapped.

On Tuesday, a California appeals court rejected a bid  by Jackson's father to challenge the administration of his son's lucrative estate.

Joe Jackson had been seeking to have some control over his son's estate, which was left in the hands of two executors outside the family, John Branca and John McClain. Jackson senior was left out of the will.

The list records dead celebrity earnings from October to October, and last year Jackson was No. 3.

"Thanks to a lucrative catalogue, hit film and album sales, the late king of pop earned more in the last year than Lady Gaga, Madonna and Jay-Z, combined," the Forbes article said.

The top five earners on the dead celebrities list are:

  1. Michael Jackson, $275 million US.
  2.  Elvis Presley, $60 million US.
  3.  J.R.R. Tolkien, $50 million US.
  4.  Charles Schulz, $33 million US.
  5. John Lennon, $17 million US .