Madonna carrying her adopted son David Banda in Malawi back in 2007 (Photo: AP)
Pop diva Madonna, 55, is the world's top-earning celebrity, according to a Forbes list released on Monday, raking in an estimated $125 million in the past year, mainly from her $305 million-grossing MDNA tour, but helped by sales of clothing, fragrance and various investments.
Director Steven Spielberg, who had a big hit last year with "Lincoln," was a distant second with earnings of $100 million in the year ended June 2013, most of which came from his catalog of past hits such as "E.T." and "Jurassic Park," which continue to bring in big bucks.
"Madonna's success, at age 55, just goes to show the incredible power of a successful music career," Forbes reporter Dorothy Pomerantz said, noting that 27-year-old pop singer Lady Gaga has often been said to be channeling Madonna's four-decade-long career.
"The young star is certainly emulating Madonna when it come to raking in money," Forbes said, with her $80 million in earnings largely from the singer's "Born This Way Ball" world tour, placing Gaga 10th on the list.
Forbes compiles its annual list of celebrity earnings using input from agents, managers, producers and others to calculate its estimates for each celebrity's entertainment-related earnings. The figures do not reflect tax deductions, agent fees or "the other expenses of being a celebrity".
Madonna's top spot compares with her previous peak of $110 million in 2009, but falls short of the $165 million taken in by Oprah Winfrey in the previous year, Forbes said.
Talk show queen and media mogul Winfrey took a big pay cut this year according to Forbes, falling to No. 13 on the list with earnings of $77 million.
At No. 3 with earnings of $95 million in the past year was a three-way tie among "50 Shades of Grey" author E.L. James, radio shock jock Howard Stern and music and television producer Simon Cowell.
Others in the top 10 earners included TV host Glenn Beck, director Michael Bay of the "Transformers" franchise, and thriller novelist James Patterson, who Forbes said was now the best-selling author of all time.
Both Spielberg and Bay also made last year's top 10, though with significantly larger earnings.
The full list of top-earning celebrities can be viewed at www.forbes.com.