There is a saying that goes like this: It’s better to have had and lost than to have never had at all. For some reason, we don’t think the music artists in this list will be so quick to agree with that comment. The truth is when musicians enjoy success in their careers, their lives completely change in a short matter of time. They are able to afford expensive things, live in lavish mansions, drive luxury cars, buy pricey jewelry and live like kings and queens. However this lifestyle is hard to maintain and often poor money management and reckless spending habits lead to artists ending up right where they began. The eight artists listed below squandered their riches in several different ways: drugs, cosmetic surgery, jewelry and more. It truly serves as a cautionary tale of what NOT to do with one’s earned riches.
8. Scott Stapp
One of the more bizarre stories to hit the headlines at the end of 2014 was the case of former Creed frontman Scott Stapp. The band emerged in the late 90’s and went on to score hits in the earlier years of the 2000’s with songs like “With Arms Wide Open” , “Higher” and “My Sacrifice.” They sold millions of records around the world and the lead man Scott Stapp amassed a wealth of $10 million. Last December, the news started surfacing of him being homeless, broke and owing the IRS substantial amounts of money. His wife was also filing divorce from him claiming that he was addicted to alcohol, amphetamines, crystal meth and steroids. She also claimed that he threatened to kill her and their two kids and even called their children’s school warning the teachers about an ISIS attack. Stapp also released a Facebook video claiming that money was stolen from him and the IRS had frozen his accounts. We are not exactly sure what happened here, but something went off the rails in a really major way for his large fortune to completely vanish and leave him homeless.
7. Scott Storch
Music producer Scott Storch first got his start in the 1990’s as a keyboard player for Philadelphia hip-hop band The Roots (the band that currently backs Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show). But his real hits came later on in his career when he co-produced a hit for Dr. Dre (‘Still D.R.E”) and concocted the Fat Joe smash, “Lean Back” in 2003. He even went on to produce hits for mega-groups like Destiny’s Child. However when all the money started flowing in, Storch squandered in a reckless and irresponsible manner. He had a huge cocaine habit, he bought mansions and expensive cars and he had hefty child support payments too. All in all, he ran through a fortune of about $30 million dollars. Presently, he has been trying to get his life back in order and he produced a song on one of Rick Ross’s recent albums.
6. Whitney Houston
The story of Whitney Houston is one that’s extremely sad and painful to recount. There were the really good times when she acted in the 1992 movie Bodyguard and released the accompanying single “I Will Always Love You” that became an absolute global phenomenon. But then there was the marriage to bad boy Bobby Brown, and then her personal problems started. The worst of it was between 2000 and 2005, and the reports started swirling of her marijuana use, crack cocaine addiction and rampant drinking. During this rough patch, she apparently blew almost $100 million through reckless and irresponsible living. Before her death in 2012, she was allegedly completely broke and relying on friends like her mentor Clive Davis for handouts. It’s truly a sad tale indeed.
The eclectic singer Kelis first emerged in the 1990’s with her debut album Kaleidoscope which was produced by The Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo). It featured the hit single “Caught Out There” and she went on to have other hits later on in her career like “Milkshake.” She met the rapper Nas and got married to him in 2005, a wedding that would last for only four years. That’s when her money problems began. While she was filing for divorce in 2009, her money issues were exposed to the world. At that point she stated the following: “My survival is based on Nas at this time. If he does not want to pay me for an expense, it doesn’t get paid.” She had apparently become used to the lavish lifestyle of having 5 houses, traveling everywhere first class and constantly eating in the most elite 5-star restaurants. She even went on to state all the expensive jewelry she owned: several luxury watches by Cartier, Rolex, Frank Muller and Chopard and a princess-cut diamond tennis bracelet worth $190,000. She recently released a new album called Food in 2013 and she has a Cooking Channel show and a cookbook in the works as well.
4. Mutya Buena (Sugarbabes)
Mutya Buena was a founding member of the UK girl group Sugerbabes that formed in 1998. The band enjoyed a lot of success on the UK pop scene and had four number one singles. She then went on to release two solo albums before returning to the music scene with another girl group called MKS. She also appeared on the UK’s Celebrity Big Brother and supplemented her income with modeling and PR appearances. However in 2014, it seemed that her rich lifestyle caught up with her. She was ordered by a High Court judge to file for bankruptcy after failure to pay a tax bill. She apparently owes over $35,000 that she didn’t have the money to cover.
3. Lil Kim
Kimberly Jones aka Lil’ Kim was definitely the Nicki Minaj of her era. When she first debuted on the scene in the 90’s as part of The Notorious BIG’s crew, fans immediately gravitated to her. Her debut album yielded their major hits singles and she went to release two more platinum albums in 2000 and 2003. But then it seems she lost her way. She was sentenced to a year in jail in 2005 for perjury charges and then she subjected herself to all kinds of plastic surgery procedures that weirdly altered her already beautiful face. Then the tax troubles followed. She owed the IRS over a million dollars and she was also sued by an upstart label named Brookland for $2 million. The lawsuit was over an agreement they had entered in with Kim to get her off her major label deal. Lately, she’s just been really salty about the Queens rapper Nicki Minaj taking over her former spot, but the real question is this: Where did all the money she made from earlier on in her career go?
2. Ja Rule
At one point, Ja Rule was one of the hottest NYC rappers on the scene. In the late 90’s, he appeared on popular tracks with Jay-Z and DMX, and then he dropped his own album Venni Vetti Vecci in 1999 which had the monster hit “Holla Holla.” The hits continued till about 2004 until a much publicized beef with 50 Cent totally doused his popularity. The rap game moved on to the next hot rapper and he was stuck with the expenses that come with living a rich rapper lifestyle: mansions, expensive cars, jewelry and more. In 2011, the lifestyle caught up to him and the IRS asked him to fork over $1.1 million in taxes he hadn’t paid from 2004-06. He didn’t have the money to pay his arrears and was sentenced to 28 months behind bars for evading his tax responsibilities. Ja Rule is back on the streets now and pursuing new opportunities in both music and film.
In the mid to late 90’s, Harlem rapper Ma$e was one of the first harbingers of a new era of commercial, mainstream rap music. He made hip-hop tunes that both inner-city crowds and suburban sorority girls could dance to. His image was very attractive too; he was handsome, always smiling, had dimples and it didn’t hurt that his mentor Puff Daddy was spending big money to promote him as a young Harlem superstar. He had several platinum hits, but he shocked the rap world by putting his career on hold and became a pastor in Atlanta. But his lavish lifestyle followed him to the church and at one point he was sued for not paying $35,000 to a jeweler in Atlanta. In 2012, the state of Florida also claimed that he owed almost $125K in local taxes. Often times, when these rappers get used to the flashy, plush lifestyle, they can never turn it off.