Having a recognized name, a celebrity name behind a business venture usually adds to the success of a brand. Many celebrities have found success outside the original career that put them on the map. Sean Combs, commonly known as P. Diddy, found success outside of his rapping career, as an actor, music producer, and even clothing designer. Jessica Simpson, whose music career put her on the map, also found success in her clothing lines and television shows.
Not all celebrities have been as fruitful using their money and fame to create a profitable business. This list will illustrate that it takes something more than a celebrity profile to be a successful entrepreneur. These next ten celebrities have lost money, time, and credibility on very short-lived ventures that will have you asking “what were they thinking?”
10 Flav’s Fried Chicken – Flavor Flav
The notorious rapper and television personality we all know as Flavor Flav thought he might try his hand at the fast food business and go toe to toe with the fried chicken giants KFC and Popeye’s. In January 2011 Flavor Flav opened up FLav’s Fried Chicken on 916 N second St in Clinton, Iowa.
In April 2011, only 3 months later, the restaurant closed down. There were many allegations made in those three months that supposedly led to the shutting down of Flav’s Fried Chicken, including that the employees were not being paid and that Flavor Flav had cost the restaurant $14,000 by wanting to change the oil every hour.
9 Dive! Restaurant – Steven Spielberg
Naming a restaurant Dive! has an air of foreshadowing to it. Nonetheless famed director Steven Spielberg opened up this submarine-themed eatery in Los Angeles, a mecca for kitsch, in 1994. Spielberg really went overboard with the submarine theme; every half hour red lights would start flashing around the restaurant as a “dive” was simulated for the pleasure of the guests. The menu was filled with cheesy puns with dishes named “sub-stantial salads” and “sub-lime deserts”. There was a huge yellow submarine jutting out the front and guests were surrounded by submarine gauges, metal catwalks and sonar screens.
Despite early success, the restaurant closed five years later due to financial troubles. The Orlando Sentinel reported that Dive! made only a third of what was expected that first year the restaurant was open, and that 40 percent of the profit was on retail sales. CNBC also attributes the failure to a difficulty in attracting locals and repeat customers. There was a closing party thrown that unfortunately Spielberg did not attend.
8 Shaq Fu – Shaquille O’Neal
The basketball star Shaquille O'Neal has played many different hands when it comes to career moves. His resume includes reserve officer for the Los Angeles Port Police, Miami Beach reserve officer, rapper, actor, real estate entrepreneur, and minority owner of the Sacramento Kings. This entry however focuses on his appearance in a certain video game.
In October 1994 Electronic Arts released a 2D fighting game that starred Shaq, Shaq Fu. In this game Shaq is on his way to a charity basketball game in Tokyo when he wanders into a dojo. It only gets stranger from there: While talking to the dojo master Shaq stumbles into a different dimension where he must rescue a young boy from an evil mummy.
7 Te Casan Vegan Friendly Footwear – Natalie Portman
6 Pastamania – Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan seems to pop up in a variety of odd places, creating energy drinks, on reality television, and in 1995 he popped up in Minnesota’s Mall of America's food court. Trying to capitalize on America’s love of pasta he opened a fast-food chain named “Pastamania”, which featured Hulk Hogan inspired dishes such as “Hulk-U’s” and “Hulk-a-Roos”. The restaurant closed less than a year later, even with the plugs on World Champion Wrestling.
Oddly enough there is a successful chain of completely unrelated pasta based fast food restaurants named PastaMania (a very subtly capitalized M makes the difference) in Singapore and Malaysia.
5 Pastelle Clothing – Kanye West
Kanye West, the notorious musician notable for his hubris, may not admit to failing at anything in his life. His clothing line, Pastelle Clothing, tells a different story. In 2008 West had his first go at fashion. He promoted the brand furiously at the 2008 American Music Awards, on Saturday Night Live, at the YSL fashion show in Paris, and even in his song “Stronger”.
Despite the hype, and Kanye wearing his Pastelle duds all around town, the business folded days after photos of the complete line were released on the internet in 2009.
4 Nicky-O Hotel – Nicky Hilton
The Hilton name is synonymous with hotels, and most would assume that a hotel venture by the famous hotel heiress, Nicky Hilton, would stand a fighting chance. The 94-room boutique hotel was planned to launch in time for the 2007 Super Bowl, but as fate would have it the hotel would not even make it that far.
There was a lot of hype about the hotel, and a second location in Chicago was already planned for. Each room, according to CNBC, would cost about $1,000 per night. Even designer Roberto Cavalli was brought in to design the suites. After being plagued by delays the project filed for bankruptcy protection and the Miami site had to be auctioned off to satisfy a mortgage and penalty debt of $60 million. To make matters even worse Nicky Hilton was sued by the condo hotel developer.
3 Kardashian Kard – Khloe, Kim and Kourtney Kardashian
The three Kardashian sisters, Khloe, Kim, and Kourtney seem comfortable endorsing almost anything, from weight-loss supplements to hair care products. The sisters’ venture to create a prepaid debit card was the clear next step.
The “Kard” was created by the Revenue Resource Group in conjunction with the sisters in November 2010 and less than a month after its debut the Kardashians pulled out. The high fees, which amounted to around $100 annually, were one of the reasons for customer outrage. The card was deemed “a rip-off and a joke” by Time Magazine. According to CNN and Time Magazine the Revenue Resource Group (RRG) sued the Kardashian sisters for $75 million and leaked some shocking numbers about the card’s launch party in New York: RRG had paid over $5,000 for Khloe Kardashian to fly first class to the party, $1,900 for an Escalade to drive them around and $6,300 for bottle service at the party. A steep price for a debut party of a failed debit card.
2 38 Studios – Curt Schilling
It is quite a leap from American Major League Baseball pitcher to video game developer, but Curt Schilling thought he could make the switch. Schilling had the money to back up his dream and poured $30 million of his own money into the endeavor which was formally announced in a press release in 2006. The same year 38 Studios leased 30,000 square feet in Maynard, Massachusetts only to move to Rhode Island in 2010. The Providence Journal states that Schilling was given a $75 million loan by the state to move the Studios and create jobs in the area.
In 2012, six years after the studio was created, 38 Studios released its first game, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. It was downhill from there, and three months after the first game was released 38 Studios missed payroll to all employees and was unable to make a loan payment to Rhode Island. That same month 38 Studios laid off all 379 employees, a figure provided by the Huffington Post, and in June of 2012 filed for bankruptcy.
1 Braselton, Georgia – Kim Basinger
Why buy a piece of land or a building when you could purchase a whole town? That is exactly what Kim Basinger did in Braselton, Georgia when she purchased the town for $20 million in 1989. According to the New York Times who had reported on the story in March 1989, the town was approximately 1,751 acres and had a population of around 500 people at the time. The previous owners of the town, the Braselton family, had been the owners for 113 years and had put the town up for sale seven years prior to Basinger’s purchase.
Kim Basinger’s vision was to turn the town into a tourist destination, equipped with movie studios and commercial centers and even having a film festival. Five years later though, with the vision not realized even slightly, Basinger filed for bankruptcy and had to sell the town for $1 million. Fortunately for the residents of the town, Braselton is now owned by a developer that has expanded the town to include a winery, the Panoz Motor Sports Group, and the Road Atlanta race track. Since Kim Basinger bought and then sold the town, Braselton has seen a growth in population as well and according to the 2010 census had a population of 7,511 residents.