LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Michael Jackson was named this year's top-earning dead celebrity on Tuesday in a list compiled by financial website Forbes.com, earning the title for the second year in a row following his death in 2009.
"Thriller" singer Jackson, who died aged 50 of a drug overdose, is estimated to have earned $170 million in the past year, which also places him as the second highest-earning pop music act this year, dead or alive, Forbes.com said.
Jackson's physician at the time of his death, Dr. Conrad Murray, is currently on trial in Los Angeles, charged with involuntary manslaughter for administering the powerful anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid for the singer in Jackson's home. Murray has pleaded not guilty.
Jackson, whose name has rarely been out of the media headlines due to his sudden death and its cause, has seen sales of albums and memorabilia increase in the past year.
The theater group Cirque Du Soleil has mounted an extravagant show called "Immortal" that is based on the singer's life and music. Earlier this month, a tribute concert in Cardiff, Wales, lured tens of thousands of fans.
The King of Pop is followed closely by the King of Rock 'n' Roll Elvis Presley placed second on the list with earnings of $55 million. Like Jackson, Presley's estate has also benefited from Cirque du Soleil, who produced "Viva Elvis" in tribute to the late singer.
Hollywood's golden age pin-up girl, Marilyn Monroe, who died at age 36 in 1962, earned near $27 million, placing her third on the list.
Sultry screen icon Elizabeth Taylor, who passed away in March 2011 aged 79, was placed fifth after reportedly earning $12 million, with a large portion coming from the sales of her popular fragrance, "White Diamonds."
The Top-Earning Dead Celebrities list by Forbes takes into account any deceased famous figure who has earned at least $6 million between October 2010 and October 2011.
The full list can be viewed on Forbes.com at www.forbes.com/deadcelebs.
(Reporting and Writing by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing Bob Tourtellotte)