Whether you bristle or daydream when celebrity salaries and wealth make the news, imagining that kind of financial security and fiscal freedom elicits a euphoric moment pondering how you’d spend your money and time immersed in such fortune. But think about losing it all. It’s probably less traumatic to live a humbler existence your whole life than to fall from grace and go from wealthy to wanting seemingly overnight. With many of the celebrity icons money problems stemming from tax issues and simple overspending, a trustworthy accountant may have saved many from crashing and burning.
was forced to list her $7.75 million home on the real estate market in 2013 to dig herself out of debt.
The youngest of the famous acting brothers, Stephen has never been good with numbers, a shortcoming complicated by bouts of substance abuse and never-ending soul searching. The self-proclaimed born-again-Christian may have asked himself, “What would Jesus do?” before filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009 after racking up debt from $1.19 million in mortgages, overextending credit cards by $70K, and accruing almost $750K in back tax payments. Maybe the charity he played for on Celebrity Apprentice should have been his own. As the old saying goes as coined by Sir Thomas Browne, “Charity begins at home.”
Kids are expensive, especially when you’re fighting in court with your ex for custody. Bracco, whose a major player on the quirky cop show Rizzoli & Isles, went so far in debt fighting movie star Harvey Keitel for custody of their daughter Stella, she had to file for bankruptcy in 1999. Bracco was humiliated by her financial state but her role as Tony Soprano’s love-crossed shrink in the iconic Sopranos HBO series in the 2007 season earned her enough cash to square off with everyone she owed money.
Living the dream without a budget, coupled with having to sue several record companies for non-payment, landed Braxton in a financial nightmare around 1997 when she filed bankruptcy after accumulating around $50 million in debt to AT&T, Tiffany jewelers and the Four Seasons hotel chain, among others. Her health problems with lupus in 2010 depleted her funds again in 2010 and she was back in bankruptcy court. To make things worse, the IRS is allegedly nipping at her heels to pay back taxes. Maybe a long-overdue album would ease the burden.
Known for his eccentric behavior and philosophical (often rhyming) musings, Busey’s most memorable accomplishment was playing the title role in the movie The Buddy Holly Story, which earned him an Oscar nomination. Although he has more than 160 movie and film credits, Busey has battled the lingering effects of massive head injuries suffered in a 1988 motorcycle crash, including a cancerous tumor he underwent chemotherapy to eradicate. He filed bankruptcy in 2012, claiming his $50K in assets couldn’t offset his $1 million debt. The filing gained national news coverage when his list of assets was made public and supposedly included 300 VHS tapes, old moccasins, bows and arrows, tambourines, and a broken pellet gun, not what one would expect to find in a celebrity’s garage.
Former MLB star and notorious heavy hitter Canseco filed for bankruptcy in 2012, blaming the government for taking more than their share, specifically the IRS bill for $500K, which Canseco claims has him living like a pauper. The admitted steroid user claimed at the time he had less than $20,000 in assets versus $1.7 in liabilities (including the IRS tab). If only steroids could pump up bank accounts like they do biceps, Canseco would be debt free.
Fraser has more than 60 acting credits to his resume and still can’t seem to make ends meet. He allegedly makes over $200K a month but monthly alimony and child support payments of $75K along with fees to agents and managers and everyday living expenses drag the actor’s bank account into the red. He also claims a back injury suffered during Hurricane Sandy has prevented him from working as much as usual. Before we’re subjected to another Mummy movie, hopefully Fraser will choose to liquidate some of his $25 million assets to pay his bills.
A virtual vision on ice and the woman responsible for a rash of unflattering haircuts that swept the country, Hamill made an apparently wise business choice when she bought the Ice Capades in 1993 but had to sell the struggling company in 1995. She was $1.6 million in debt in 1996, which forced her into bankruptcy the same year. Hamill blames the financial failings on her ex-husband, Kenneth Forsythe, a doctor she claims cheated on her with two different women during their marriage and her pregnancy. No number of Olympic gold medals can heal wounds like that.
She may play the evil queen on Game of Thrones but Lena Heady‘s good looks did her no good when a vicious divorce and custody battle in 2012 cost her so dearly she reported she had only $5 in the bank in 2013. Headey sold her Hollywood Hills home at a loss of about $340K to get back on her feet and invested in a more modest home in the San Fernando Valley earlier this year. Meanwhile, she’s wrangling with her ex to hand over her 2011 tax return just to buy groceries and pay the utility bills. Doesn’t Game of Thrones pay better than that?
Love was in a world of hurt on many levels after the suicide of Nirvana rocker husband Kurt Cobain in 1994. She sought solace in private, then went public, and finally came out of mourning only to discover she was sinking further into debt each day. After losing her home and moving into rented digs with then young daughter Frances Bean, who is now emancipated and estranged from her mother, Love bit the bullet and sold 25 percent of Nirvana’s music catalogue in 2006 to get out of debt. However, she continues to maintain that thieves of the music world stole millions from her and Cobain, a fraud she and her friends continue to investigate to find the culprits and gain restitution.