Believe it or not, some celebrities get paid a lot of dough just to make an appearance for a couple of hours, whether it’s subtly wearing a brand of clothing for a small fee at a music fest, or performing for a questionable world dictator and receiving millions. The money they earn would be considered extra cash on top of their already generous salaries. But for a celeb, this also means they get lavished with private jets, stay at luxury hotels and make quick cash. Although celebrities benefit, sometimes they naively choose events that have caused uproar because of human rights violations. Apparently, not all famous people are good at doing their research ahead of time, which has often resulted in scandals.
10. Aaron Paul
The Breaking Bad actor reportedly got paid $15,000 and was given VIP passes for himself and his wife to attend the desert-based Coachella Music Fest this year. Paul goes to the festival practically every year (he met his wife there), so it would almost seem unnecessary for him to actually get paid to be there, especially considering regular music fans are already paying almost $400 for a weekend pass. Paul also got paid $16,000 to hang out with other celebrities at millionaire Jason Hope’s pricey Christmas Party in Arizona a couple of years ago.
9. Lea Michele
Another Coachella vet, the Glee star supposedly netted $20,000 for showing up at this year’s fest wearing Lacoste clothing, making her a brand ambassador. Lacoste and other companies recognize the appeal of having a big name like Michele wear their clothing for a couple of days, because she’s cool and has a strong presence on social media. (She tweeted photos of herself schmoozing at the Lacoste pool party.) Michele’s registered with booking agent Celebrity Talent International, a company that books celebs at events around the world. The site says she demands $250,000-$350,000 for domestic singing gigs and over $750,000 for international appearances. If you have the money, you could book her.
8. Kim Kardashian
If getting paid handsomely to star in her own reality show wasn’t enough, Kim Kardashian rakes in six-figures just to hang out in Vegas nightclubs for a couple of hours. In December of 2012, 1 Oak Nightclub at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Vegas paid her $300,000 to ring in the New Year, which mainly entailed her walking the red carpet and hanging out with her buddies. Of course, clubbers were charged $125 per ticket and $3,000 for bottle service. For her 30th birthday week in 2010, Kardashian spent a few days appearing at clubs in Vegas and NYC, profiting 100K a pop. Not only does she get paid well, but she uses the opportunities to promote her own brands.
After the success of MTV show Jersey Shore, Snooki and the rest of the gang were in demand to make appearances practically everywhere. Snooki, who’s a team player, jumped at the chance to appear at Seminole Hard Rock in Florida to host a fist-pumping contest (she was paid $10,000 to do that). She lowered her usual asking price and was paid $2,000 to attend a Jersey Shore Party at Peabody’s in Virginia Beach a few years ago. She only stayed for two hours, so that comes out to $1,000 an hour plus expenses paid. Her most controversial paid appearance was when Rutgers University paid her $32,000 to do a Q&A session at the school, which seems like a lot considering Nobel Prize-winning author, Toni Morrison was only paid $2,000 to speak at the school’s commencement.
6. Hilary Swank
The two-time Oscar winner found herself in hot water when she was paid six-figures to attend Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov’s million dollar birthday bash in Grozny, Chechnya, in 2011. Unaware that Kadyrov had come under fire for human rights violations, Swank told the leader she was honored to be there and wished him a happy birthday. The Human Rights Foundation slammed her for attending, especially when she originally said she wasn’t going. The fallout resulted in her firing her agent and management team, and Swank decided to donate the money she earned to charity. Jean-Claude Van Damme also attended the festivities but supposedly didn’t receive the amount of scrutiny Swank did.
In November of 2012, the singer switched on the Christmas lights at Westfield shopping mall in London, and received a cool $8 million paycheck. That may seem like a big Christmas present, but that fee also encompassed her performing in front of 20,000 fans. Her fans were outraged that not only did she show up late, but she only played for a few minutes. Akin to other celebs, Rihanna gets paid to attend fashion shows—just to sit in the front row and look pretty. She received $97,000 to sit at a Karl Lagerfeld fall 2012 fashion show in Paris and this time, she didn’t have to sing for it.
4. Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera loves billionaires, too. She earned $1 million for an hour-long performance at a Charles Brandes’ 2010 private Halloween party in San Diego. The year prior, Brandes booked Fergie for his party. In 2005, Aguilera and Whitney Houston were both paid $3.6 million to perform three songs at Russian banker, Andrei Melnichenko’s wedding to Aleksandra Kokotovic. Considering the payout just for wedding singers was so extravagant, the banker’s wedding ended up costing over $20 million.
Queen B snagged $2 million to perform for Muammar al-Gaddafi and his sons at a St. Barths New Year’s Eve party in 2009. Usher also joined her to help ring in the new year. This may sound fun and all, but she was slammed for performing for a malevolent dictator, and ended up donating her earnings to earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. Beyoncé’s hubby, Jay Z also charged a hefty sum to appear at a New Year’s bash. He asked $1 million to perform at the Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino in Vegas. At least Beyoncé didn’t get paid anything for her 2013 Super Bowl Halftime Show—she did get all her expenses covered, though.
2. Mariah Carey
Akin to Beyoncé, Carey also performed for the Gaddafi family at a New Year’s party in St. Barths. Unlike her counterpart, though, Carey only received $1 million. Additionally, Carey charged $250,000 per song to serenade Angolan President, Josè Eduardo Dos Santos at an Angola Red Cross benefit in 2013. She received a lot of flack because the president rules under kleptocracy where the wealthy are his main interest. The brouhaha didn’t stop Carey from performing at a private New Year’s Eve function for the son of the Sultan of Brunei, Prince Azim, a couple of weeks later where she received $1.5 million.
1. Jennifer Lopez
What is it with singers and performing for dictators? J.Lo was scolded when last summer she was paid a lot to sing Happy Birthday and a few other songs to Turkmenistan president, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. Human rights organizers cried foul because the president rules the country with an iron fist, therefore, she shouldn’t be taking his cash. J. Lo later apologized, but it’s unclear if she donated or returned the loot. In 2010, she was supposed to earn $3 million to attend an opening of a luxury hotel in the embattled region of Cyprus; her appearance was luckily canceled. In 2007, Lopez was paid $2 million to perform for Aleksandra Kokotovic’s 30th birthday party in London. On top of the millions J.Lo was paid to perform, her entourage expenses of $800,000 were also compensated.