Top 10 Celebrities Who Have Filed Bankruptcy

Celebrity Money

Even celebrities run out of cash, and you can’t help but wonder, where did all their money go? Learn about the truths and stories behind the bankruptcy cases filed by celebrities who were once receiving huge payoffs before their financial troubles strike them hard.

Larry King can manage to make a talk show as legendary as he is but he can’t manage his finances well. When one gets hired to work in media, the compensation doesn’t necessarily convert to thousands and millions of cash. This was no secret to Larry King but still, he continued mismanaging his earnings. His money troubles worsen when the news about his grand larceny became the talk of the media world.

1. Larry King

s_bukley / Shutterstock.com


He was charged for stealing $5,000 from Louis Wolfson, a Wall Street financier and his business partner. Even when the charges were dropped, the case had tarnished his reputation and his career in radio was also jeopardized. But luck was still on his side, and when he was offered with a late-night talk radio show in Washington D.C. he became the legend that he is now.

2. Mike Tyson

Featureflash / Shutterstock.com


Mike Tyson the “Iron Man” in the boxing ring finally filed for bankruptcy after making extravagant and unimaginable spending. During the height of his boxing career when he was paid $30 million dollars for a single fight, Mike Tyson will simply buy mansions, Bengal tigers, and cars. His most reported spending was when he purchased $174,000 gold chain with diamonds of 80 carats in Las Vegas jewelry shop. But in 2003, filed for bankruptcy and The New York Times reported about his $23 million debts. The debts comprised unpaid taxes to the U.S. and the British governments, seven law firms, and limo services.

3. MC Hammer

There is no better way to described MC Hammer’s bankruptcy but to go over the lyrics of the song of Kanye West “So Appalled.” Perhaps, MC Hammer is now dreaming about living his previous lifestyle wherein he had a 200-person crew which he paid $500,000 a month. In 1990s, MC Hammer only thought about spending his cash rather than adding money in his bank accounts. When his album that turned Diamond Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em was released, he acquired $33 million from it. But after six years, reports about his bankruptcy surfaced and they were all verified. MC Hammer is now worth just $1.5 million.

4. Anna Nicole Smith

Featureflash / Shutterstock.com


Anna Nicole Smith was perceived as a gold digger when she married her 90-year old husband. After a year of marriage, her husband died and left her a fortune. However, his second marriage to oil Mogul J. Howard Marshall gave her more troubles. When Marshall died, the end result of her marriage was a case in the court. She claimed that Marshall deliberately intended to leave her nothing. The case wasn’t even close to reaching a verdict when another sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against her. The cases led her to file for bankruptcy but she continued to fight to get her shares from her dead husband’s estate. It was as if her battles will never end. When she died, more press coverage were directed at her family specifically her two children.

5. Willie Nelson

Charles Edwards / Shutterstock.com


Willie Nelson, the so called American original had some tax issues as well. The Internal Revenue Service or IRS considered Willie Nelson an “outlaw” for funneling his earnings through a tax shelter. This act for IRS was in fact a violation and when the agency totaled his tax bill it reached $16.7 million. The government was left with no choice but to seize all his assets, along with his ranch in Texas. To settle the debts, Willie Nelson released an album compilation called The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories? His revenues from the album were used to settle the debts.

6. Walt Disney

Walt Disney wasn’t able to use his “magic” in preventing the company in the brink of bankruptcy. When Walt Disney built his Magic Kingdom Empire, it was regarded as the biggest movie production in the world. His popular animation production studio was Laugh-O-Gram. And through the years, the company led local theaters in showing animated fairy tales. When Laugh-O-Gram became famous, Walt Disney saw the need to look for a financial backer for more projects. But, the backing firm was busted and the end result was for Walt Disney to eventually file bankruptcy.

7. Jerry Lee Lewis

Bill Ragan / Shutterstock.com


Jerry Lee Lewis can offer you one of the most interesting biographies when it comes to life’s ups and downs. He always asserts his own way especially when he plays the piano and this was the main reason why he was kicked out of the Bible College. In spite of this not so good record, Jerry Lee Lewis was able to become a part of the Sun Records Sam Phillips. His two singles became a sensation under Sun Records and his talents and skills contributed in the success of the rock n’ roll mainstream. When he married his 13-year old second cousin, the collapse of his career followed suit. Though he still made records he eventually filed for bankruptcy. Luckily, the rock n’ roll icon was able to recover from his ups and downs. His old age did not stop him from pursuing more music projects.


9. Gary Coleman

Joe Seer / Shutterstock.com


Gary Coleman was considered to be the highest-paid actor on TV for his unmatched performance on “Diff’rent Strokes.” In 1999, he filed for bankruptcy due to his expensive medical expenses and much more expensive legal battles. The legal battles were about his adoptive parents and debts. For him, his financial troubles are the works of his accountants, lawyers, agents, and himself. At age 42, Gary Coleman passed away due to health woes. But even after his death, Gary Coleman will always be remembered for delivering his well-known question: “Whatcha talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”

10. Lawrence Taylor

Lawrence Taylor became notable for two reasons: his fearless way of playing football as a linebacker and his being crazy, wild, and reckless both in the field and in real life situations. He was twice tested for cocaine use, how is that for a real wild lifestyle? Later on, he admitted about his fondness in taking drugs. He saw business as a way to earn more but his $10 million was invested in vain. Almost two decades after he pled guilty for not filing his tax return in 1990, Lawrence Taylor filed for bankruptcy so his home will not be foreclosed.