Madonna has surprisingly trumped the likes of Lady Gaga, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey to be named the world's top-earning celebrity for the past year.

The 55-year-old singer made an estimated $125 million thanks to her MDNA tour, clothing and fragrance lines, according to Forbes.

The magazine said it was the most money Madonna had made in a single year since it began tracking earnings in 1999.

Film director Steven Spielberg - who helmed the Oscar nominated Lincoln - was in second place, with $100 million. Most of the filmmaker's earnings came from his back catalogue of films like ET and Jurassic Park - which had just been released in 3D to mark the 20th anniversary.

Third place was a three-way tie between 50 Shades of Grey author EL James, X-Factor mogul Simon Cowell and shock jock Howard Stern, with earnings of $95 million. Thriller writer James Patterson made $91 million, while controversial TV and radio host Glenn Beck made $90 million.

Others inside the top 10 included the Transformers director Michael Bay with $82 million, producer Jerry Bruckheimer with $80 million and pop star Lady Gaga with $80 million.

The figures do not reflect tax deductions, agent fees or "the other expenses of being a celebrity."

With big years ahead for the likes of Gaga and Katy Perry, the list could look very different in a year's time.  

MadonnaMadonna At The Billboard Music Awards

Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg At The Cannes Film Festival

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey Squeezed Into The Top 3