Celebrities are supposed to have it all. They get paid millions for movies and albums that may or may not succeed. They get paid to endorse all kinds of products, which they can also probably get for free. They are given royalties for all their past work. If you have seen the movie “About a Boy,” the character played by Hugh Grant lived off the royalties from a Christmas song written by his father years ago.
Sadly, not all celebrities are that astute when it comes to handling money. They seem to be having the easy life compared to us mere mortals who slave over our wages on a daily basis, which is why the shock of them filing for bankruptcy is magnified ten times over. Here is a list of the top 10 celebrity bankruptcy stories.
9 MC Hammer
He should have told his entourage that they can’t touch this, meaning his money. MC Hammer used to earn as much as $33 million for just one album, specifically his best selling diamond-awarded “Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em.” He blew it all on a $30 million mansion and a 200-man entourage that required $500,000 for him to maintain. By the middle of the 1990s, his assets had dropped to $9.6 million. What is even more appalling is that he had incurred debts of $13.7 million. His debts were not limited to banks and financial institutions as he also owed another celebrity in the person of baseball and football star Deion Sanders $500,000. Hammer should have prayed just to make it today.
8 Mike Tyson
He was one of the most feared man of boxing during his prime. Even in defeats, he made a lot of headlines like when he bit off Evander Holyfield’s ear during their title bout. He made $30 million for that fight alone. In his nearly two decades of fighting in the ring, he amassed as much as $400 million. He bought several mansions, cars, jewelries and wild animals along the way. By 2004, Tyson was already mired in debts amounting to $23 million in unpaid taxes, services and other liabilities. He admits he now lives from paycheck to paycheck, though he seems not to regret the path he took.
7 Willie Nelson
He was a pioneer of the “outlaw country” movement in the 1960s. He then tried to run rings around the law by parking his money on a tax shelter that was thereafter deemed as illegal. With a tax debt amounting to $16.7 million, the federal government seized all his assets in 1990. To expedite his recovery, he crooned to all the fans he has loved before to buy his compilation album with the straightforward title of “The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories?” The revenues raised were then used to pay off his debts.
6 Walt Disney
All those Disney films and entertainment parks would not have been around had Walt Disney not gone bankrupt. Disney was already the owner of and operator of an animation company called Laugh-O-Gram Studios that created animated fairy tales shown in movie houses. Its popularity led to an expansion that was backed by another company. That company went south however and Disney’s Laugh-O-Gram filed for bankruptcy and closed the studio. He packed up, regrouped, headed west to California and began a fresh life. And what a magical restart it turned out to be.
5 Larry King
Before hosting CNN’s “Larry King Live,’ King actually had been bankrupt with debts of up to $352,000. King had led an extravagant lifestyle even though he was only an announcer in a fledgling radio station in Miami. He stole $5,000 from his business partner and was charged with grand larceny. He could not get a job in journalism anymore, as a result. Then, a Washington D.C. radio station offered him a late night talk show stint. This eventually became the CNN show.
4 Jerry Lee Lewis
He drew the ire of the administrators of the school he attended with the way he played the piano. He electrified the fans with his “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “Great Balls of Fire.” He then shocked the world by marrying his 13-year-old second cousin. While he recovered somewhat by repackaging himself as a country artist, Lewis eventually run up debts of up to $3 million. He filed for bankruptcy in 1988.
3 Anna Nicole Smith
She was a blonde bombshell who modeled for Guess Jeans and Playboy Magazine. At the age of 27, she married a 90-year-old billionaire. The husband died a year later without leaving anything to Smith. She sued in court so that she can have her share of the estate. While the case was going on, a housekeeper successfully sued her for sexual harassment, meaning Smith owed around $850,000 for the case. She filed for bankruptcy in 1996 and died in 2007 without receiving a single cent.
2 Lawrence Taylor
He was one of the best linebackers in the NFL back in his prime. He worked hard on the field that brought him two Super Bowl rings. Unfortunately, he also played hard off it by drinking alcohol and snorting cocaine. He spent thousands daily for drugs. He filed for bankruptcy in 2009 to avoid foreclosure of his home.
1 Gary Coleman
He used to have a $7 million fortune, but all that was gone by 1999 because of medical problems and disputes with his parents. While fans loved him during his “Diff’rent Strokes” days, he failed to convert that following after the demise of the series. He ended up with a $72,000 debt by the time he filed for bankruptcy in 1999. He died in 2010.
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