Michael Jackson regained the title of the highest-earning dead celebrity in the past year, easily surpassing Elvis Presley and cartoonist Charles Schulz, Forbes magazine said on Wednesday.

After being pushed into second place by Elizabeth Taylor last year, Jackson, who died in 2009, was back on top with estimated earnings of $160 million US in the 12 months from October 2012 to 2013.

"He earned the bulk of his bucks from two Cirque du Soleil shows, his Mijac Music catalog, recorded music sales and his half of the Sony/ATV publishing empire — which includes the copyright to hits by the Beatles, Lady Gaga, Eminem and Taylor Swift, among others," Forbes said.

Forbes' 12 top-earning dead celebrities

  1. Michael Jackson - $160 million US
  2. Elvis Presley - $55 million US
  3. Charles Schulz - $37 million US
  4. Elizabeth Taylor - $25 million US
  5. Bob Marley - $18 million US
  6. Marilyn Monroe - $15 million US
  7. John Lennon - $12 million US
  8. Albert Einstein - $10 million US
  9. Bettie Page - $10 million US
  10. Theodor Geisel - $9 million US
  11. Steve McQueen - $9 million US
  12. Bruce Lee - $7 million US
  13. Jenni Rivera - $7 million US

Presley was a distant second with $55 million US, followed by Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip, who came in third for the second consecutive year with $37 million US.

Taylor dropped to fourth place with earnings of $25 million US, a huge dip from last year when her estate pulled in an estimated $210 million with much of it from the auction of her jewels.

Reggae star Bob Marley rounded out the top five with earnings of $18 million US. The singer, who died of cancer at the age of 36 in 1981, has sold more than 75 million albums in the past two decades, according to Forbes.

Nobel-prize winning physicist Albert Einstein, dropped one place to No. 8 this year with earnings of $10 million US, while Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera, who died in a plane crash in December at the age of 43, was new to the list at No. 13 with $7 million US.

Forbes compiled the list by talking to estate managers, lawyers and licensors and analyzing estimated posthumous earnings between October 2012-2013.