Celebrities generally have the world at their fingertips; cars, yachts, planes and those million dollar pay checks. But when the well runs dry and some of the highest profile celebs find themselves broke, homeless, begging and alone, that’s when life starts to get real. Celebrities like Willie Nelson and Lady Gaga quickly found out that they are not immune to the IRS, debt and any other curses life throws their way. When tax season rolls around, we all seem to have the same feeling; broke, confused, lost and we’re never really sure why our returns leave us questioning if we should have gotten more. But it is safe to say that no matter how much money we splurge, or how much we do or don’t get back from the scary government, we may never have to experience the debt that some of these celebrities have had to break the bank paying back. Cyndi Lauper, Toni Braxton and Kim Basinger are just some of the celebrities who had to deal with the loss of money due to outrageous purchases and questionable investments. Never fear, these public figures always find a way to get back on their game; this list goes through 13 celebrities who lost it all and somehow managed to gain it back.
13. Nicolas Cage
Actor Nicolas Cage comes from an acting/directing dynasty, so the world was shocked to find out that he had to file for bankruptcy in 2014. Cage was reportedly worth $150 million and lost $13 million to the IRS and $100 million disappeared into god knows where. Cage definitely knew how to spend his money; private homes, islands, yacht’s, exotic cars and a private jet. There were also rumors that Cage was victim to a ponzi scheme. However, Cage being the successful actor that he is, never seems to be out of work and good or bad, he is getting paid for it and he doesn’t come cheap; he has already begun to bounce back with 8 upcoming movies including a sequel to the highly successful, National Treasure franchise.
12. Cyndi Lauper
In 1981, the beloved Girls Just want to Have Fun singer had to file for bankruptcy after Blue Angel, the music group she was writing and performing for, split after they failed to make any profits. Lauper lost everything she had gained at that time and was not able to make ends meet. Lauper was forced to work at a Japanese restaurant, singing dressed as a geisha. She slowly made a comeback into music with the help of her then boyfriend who was able to land a deal for her with CBS. She released She’s so Unusual, in 1983 and quickly became an international hit.
11. Kim Basinger
In 1993 at the height of her career, actress Kim Basinger had to file for bankruptcy due to a series of bad decision making and reneging on a verbal contract. First, in 1989 Basinger bought a town in Georgia with hopes to turn it into a tourist town; the town reportedly cost her $20-million, which she was able to manage until she decided to back out of the film Boxing Helen. By reneging on this contract, Basinger was brought to court by the production company and forced to pay the penalty. Here is where things go bad; in order to pay off the debt, Basinger had to sell her town for a measly $1-million and had to pay a total of $8.1 to the movie studio. She promptly filed for bankruptcy but later, she went on to win an Oscar and made a majority of her money back by 1997.
10. Willie Nelson
Country music icon Willie Nelson was shocked to learn that he was in debt to the I.R.S. owing $16.7-million. He had two options; 1. He filed for bankruptcy and 2. He creatively found a way to raise some of the money back; a new record. The record was conveniently titled The I.R.S. Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories?. All the proceeds went to the I.R.S and Nelson was very public about this decision. With a freeze on his accounts and all of his real estate holdings, Nelson scrambled to pay off his debt, which ultimately took him three years. Back on top again, Nelson has gone on to make more records and accumulate more wealth, although still slightly struggling from those back taxes.
9. Toni Braxton
A repeated bankruptcy filer, Breathe Again singer Toni Braxton had to file for debt forgiveness twice, as she had trouble managing her finances. In 1998, right off the heels of her widely successful album Secrets, Braxton was reportedly in debt of almost $4-million. She had to sell her possessions, including all rewards that she had received. Finally starting to see a way up, Braxton had to file for chapter 7 bankruptcies again in 2010, due to her Lupus diagnosis, an expensive divorce and having to raise a child with autism. Her debt was marked somewhere between $10-50-million, however on the rise again, Toni has a hit show that documents her family life and is starting to perform sell out shows including a few plays.
8. Larry King
Popular former late night show host Larry King, was forced to file bankruptcy in 1978, after a former business partner accused him of stealing money. The very public dispute went down in 1971. King’s partner, a man by the name of Louis Wolfson, accused King of stealing $5,000. King was arrested and charged with grand larceny. The charges were eventually dropped but King’s reputation still took a hit, as he was fired from his current job and could not get a steady journalism job for four years. King eventually filed for bankruptcy, being in debt about $350,000 due to lack of work. However, his luck turned around and that same year, he was offered a late night radio show which eventually turned into a show with CNN.
7. Walt Disney
The man who created all of those money sucking Disney movies once had to file for bankruptcy. That’s right, before Walt Disney was Walt Disney, he had a failing studio called Laugh-O-Gram in Kansas City. Although Disney had a dream back then, the investors were not so confident and quickly backed out of investing in the studio. Due to investors pulling out, Disney incurred a great deal of debt and was forced to file for bankruptcy. Disney was reportedly suffering and had to do something quick to change his luck. He moved to California to start fresh and he started another production company and things only went up from there.
6. Donald Trump
Donald Trump is reportedly worth more than $3.9 billion; so how is it possible that he has filed for bankruptcy a reported 4 times? Well, Trump has been filing for bankruptcy since the early 90s and always filing for corporate bankruptcy related to his hotel and casino properties in Atlantic City. The first bankruptcy in 1991, was the one that really took a hit at Trump’s personal fortune, allegedly being in debt about $900 million. However, by the mid 90s Trump was on his way back up. He had paid down a good chunk of the debt by selling other business ventures. He learned his lesson rather quickly though, as he filed three more times and his personal fortune never took another hit.
5. Natasha Lyonne
Actress Natasha Lyonne gained critical acclaim with her film, The Slums of Beverly Hills. However, after a string of hit films, Lyonne slowly fell off the map. When she did pop up again, it was with a drug arrest and a not so flattering mug shot. Lyonne was no longer the successful actress that added the comedic relief to American Pie, she was an avid drug user who had used up a majority of her money supporting her unfortunate habit. Flash forward to 2013, Lyonne cleaned up her act and is now a regular on the Netflix hit show, Orange is the New Black. She was recently nominated for an Emmy and is making her way back to the top.
4. Danny Bonaduce
Child actor Danny Bonaduce was riding high off of his hit show The Partridge Family, but when it ended in 1974, Danny had no work lined up, he was a teenager and he was lost. Unfortunately, he quickly fell into a nasty drug habit and was even homeless for a while. He had no more money to his name and struggled to find work. Bonaduce eventually found work as a DJ and had a pretty successful radio show. However, in the 90s, he fell into drugs again and had to do a few reality shows and odd end jobs to put food in his mouth, including celebrity boxing matches and a made for TV Partridge family movie.
3. Pamela Anderson
Playboy Model, Tommy Lee’s ex, sex tape star, animal rights activist and the list goes on and on, actress Pamela Anderson wears a lot of hats, some great and some not so good. Although, Anderson seems to be a pro when it comes to living outside of her means. She is over a million dollars in debt, due to some tiny renovations that she wanted to make to her Malibu beach home. Anderson went on record saying that she is selling her home and is already hard at making her money back, even with a UK television special in the works, and her announcement to release a health book. Anderson was never one to stay down for too long though, so it comes as no surprise that she bounced back quickly from a million dollar debt.
2. Chris Tucker
Chris Tucker has recently gone under financial strife, when he admitted to being in debt to the government to the tune of $13 million. “Can you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?” How could this happen when he made $25 million for Rush Hour 3? Looks like after Rush Hour Tucker disappeared and it looks like the well dried up and he could lose his $6 million mansion. Tucker popped back up on the big screen in 2012, when he made a critically acclaimed appearance in Oscar nominated film, Silver Linings Playbook. Tucker seems to be making a comeback and an upcoming Rush Hour 4.
1. Lady Gaga
Mega Star Lady Gaga has admitted that she was broke during her 2009 tour “Monster Ball”, stating that she had $3 million to her name and spent it on making her stage. She is one of the most sought after musicians with an out of this world creative mind. Gaga did not stay down for long though, after her “Fame Monster” album she went hard to work on her next album, “Born This Way” which crashed the charts and she was soon out of the red. Going on to make more money than she lost, it looks like she doubled her millions.