There is an old saying: “Easy Come, Easy Go.” Well, celebrities can definitely agree. Maybe it didn’t come that easily, but the quickly earned money can surely disappear as fast as it came. After earning dozens of millions during their careers, it is hard to imagine how in the world these famous people manage to lose their fortune. It seems that you need to have a special kind of talent to declare bankruptcy after obtaining that much money.
You can probably guess the cause – bad management, a crisis in the world of finance, divorces, not paying taxes or just being greedy; the fact is solid – all these celebrities went bankrupt at least once. Their stories can teach us lessons: every time you face financial problems, you can say something like: “This is nothing. If 50 Cent can lose all those millions and be just fine, why should I stress about 2000$?” It can be a good stress reliever; don’t you think?
These celebrities prove that being rich and famous doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand. If you ever come to the point that you wish to be in their place, consider questioning yourself. They also have problems like we do, they make bad decisions, and face difficulties managing their money. Anyone can face money issues sometimes. You can’t avoid that, and if you have more money, more problems might emerge.
That’s another thought to keep you worry free. Why worry if it's still gonna happen? Here are 15 celebrities who went from filthy rich to penniless:
15 Janice Dickinson
One of the first supermodels ever to hit superstardom, Janice Dickinson has been at the center of attention since the 70s, when she appeared. You probably saw her sitting in the judging booth on American’s Next Top Model, and her own reality show, The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency. Imagine the paychecks from all those fashion shows she did, and appearing on popular shows such as ANTM – Janice should have been stacked for the rest of her life.
But, nothing beautiful comes for free in real life. Janice’s looks and style cost a lot of money; bills from plastic surgeons and dermatologists could make an average person homeless quickly. Add a large villa in Beverly Hills (1.4 million dollars), loads of very expensive clothes and a luxurious lifestyle, and you get a money-spending machine. As a “cherry on top”, Janice hasn’t paid attention to the IRS and bills kept piling up to a whopping $500,000 of debt.
14 Toni Braxton
Bankruptcy is a sign that you’re beaten to the ground, leveled. But, some people might use it as a tool to avoid massive taxes, bills and obligations. You know the song Unbreak My Heart? Toni Braxton is the author of this all-time classic. You’d think that she’s a fragile person after you hear her sing about a broken heart and tears, wouldn’t you?
Well, it turns out the singer loves to live the life of fraud and misguidance; she accumulated over 50 million dollars of debt by not paying taxes, bills or for services. On the big list of people she owes money to, there is AT&T, multiple healthcare providers, several hotels, jewelers from Tiffany and of course, the IRS. This woman filed for bankruptcy three times so far; 1998, 2010 and 2013. The last time she filed for bankruptcy is the most interesting one; Braxton bought a 3 million dollar mansion shortly after the bankruptcy filing. Isn’t this a bit suspicious?
13 50 Cent
One of the latest celebrities to file for bankruptcy is famous rapper Curtis James Jackson III, known as 50 Cent. One might think that he’s one person least likely to appear on our list, especially after his lucrative endeavors in the music and movie industries. His wealth was gigantic - over $155 million in assets. But it looks like fame and fortune got the best of him; not thinking straight, living a “big spender” life and not caring for obligations, turned 50 Cent’s life upside down. The most recent blow to the rapper’s reputation was the lawsuit charging $5 million for a s*x tape publication without permission. It all adds up to over $50 million in debt. That’s right, fifty million dollars.
It turns out that Mr. Jackson isn’t as wealthy as he presents himself in his videos.
12 Gary Busey
Do you remember this guy? Gary acted in more than 70 movies, earning himself a hefty sum with each release from Hollywood. And, when you take a look at him, he doesn’t seem like a person that would spend millions of dollars on cheap thrills and one night stands. If you’d assume that, you’d be right. The poor fella had some serious health problems, all caused by reckless driving in 1988 (yeah, it dates way back). With a big head injury and cancer, Busey went from rich to poor in an instant.
Huge medical bills came as a final nail in the coffin for Gary’s bankruptcy file, and the actor filed for it in February 2012. Since then, he started appearing in low budget movies, sitcoms and reality shows, laughing like crazy, trying to get more attention. His debts include court penalties, IRS bills, hospital bills and bank payment notices. His assets are estimated to be worth $50K, and his debts equal $1 million. We hope Gary will recover.
11 Wesley Snipes
If you love classic action movies, don't read this one.
Wesley Snipes, the all-time favorite action movie performer from the 90s had tremendous success with many blockbusters. All was perfect for Mr. Snipes, except for one tiny problem – he bailed from tax obligations for more than six years. That’s the kind of trouble that no amount of martial arts will get you out of.
Unfortunately for all of us Snipes fans, that was not his only problem. He didn’t care about money and the way he spent it, so the accumulated debt grew bigger than his assets. That’s why he had to go to prison in 2010. Over an extended period of time, he was nowhere to be seen, and now that he’s back, he can’t get any more lucrative roles in blockbusters. Sorry Mr. Snipes, your days as an action hero are gone.
10 Stephen Baldwin
Here’s another story of a beloved actor going broke. We all know (or at least are familiar with) Stephen Baldwin, the youngest of the Baldwin brothers. We loved him in The Usual Suspects, and we were against him when he was against his daughter’s relationship with Justin Bieber. With a recognizable Baldwin face, and a bunch of movies on your resume, how is it possible that you go broke?
Well, it’s simple – you just avoid paying taxes and credit card bills, for an extended period of time. Three years, to be precise. Stephen Baldwin was forced to file for bankruptcy protection in 2009 because his debts were bigger than $2 million. The latest news is that he managed to pay $400K (state taxes plus interest) to the creditors and now faces mortgage problems.
9 Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga broke? Oh, come on! Nobody would expect that to be true. But, it turns out that there was a point in the singer’s life where she was broke completely. Funny thing to mention, she was broke during her 2009 Monster's Ball tour. Some people have the guts to follow their dreams no matter what, and Gaga is the perfect example. At the time, she knew that the tour would be a massive success, but a lot of resources were needed for the extravagant performances she intended to have on the tour.
The record house didn’t back her up, so she invested every last dollar she had ($3 million) on the stage, the costumes, performers and light shows. During the tour, she was literally broke – zero dollars in the bank. But, the courage and determination paid off. After several incredible performances, Gaga received a check for 40 million dollars from the Live Nation. “It changed my life and the life of my whole family,” Gaga said in an interview. So, it was true after all; at one point in her career, Lady Gaga was penniless. Think about that for a minute.
8 Pamela Anderson
Pam Anderson is a face that often gets media attention as a tax disobedient. We all know her from Baywatch, where she got ultra-popular. During her lucrative acting career, she enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle and spent money on properties and expensive cars while avoiding tax obligations. As it turns out, unpaid bills kept piling up, totaling to a sum of $2 million. Think about that when you’re in a financial rut - is it so daunting now?
What do you do when you're deep in debt? If you’re Pamela Anderson, you just forget about it and keep shopping for expensive cars. She is on the list of the Top 500 Delinquent Taxpayers by California Franchise Tax Board. Her good looks won’t help her out of this debt. Her recent divorce to Rick Salomon got her a million dollars - a small "medicine" to treat her terrible financial situation.
7 Lena Headey
The notorious queen of Westeros and relentless Iron Throne ruler can’t handle money well. Who would have known? Lena Headey plays one of the lead roles in one of the biggest television shows on this planet, Game of Thrones. How in the world is it possible for her to be broke?
2013 was a very rough year for Headey. She parted ways with Peter Loughran in a divorce which cost her a tremendous amount of money. Unfortunately, her paychecks from GoT didn’t have the power to get her out of this one. Her big house in the Hollywood Hills had to be compensated to get her even, and that wasn’t enough, so she had to file for bankruptcy while battling for custody over her child. Poor Lena. Oh wait, GoT wasn’t that big during that time, so we’re certain her paychecks are way above the problems she had at that point. Still, it’s a fascinating fact, to be broke and star in Game of Thrones, don’t you think?
6 Brendan Fraser
A guy with an unforgettable smile and charisma, a guy with great looks and acting skills, Brendan Fraser had it all. Even though his career went a bit downhill recently (appearing only in low-class films), Brendan is still a household name and has a staggering resume in Hollywood. It would be nonsense to believe that he filed for bankruptcy in any way, wouldn’t it? It turns out that it won’t.
Fraser has a lot of alimony and child support to pay for each month (a whopping sum of $75K – wow, some people earn that much in a year). Fraser pleaded for poverty in court because he sustained a devastating back injury, which prevents him from working enough. So, he’s using the poverty ticket to get out of the ultra-high alimony bills he receives every month.
5 Lindsay Lohan
It doesn’t feel good to see a pretty face lose everything, but Lindsay Lohan had to pay the price of partying like a maniac for years. It looks like when you’re earning a lot of money by acting in movies, you don’t want to pay taxes and spend it all on cheap thrills, just like we mentioned in our intro. Lindsay is the perfect example of this. Her decadent lifestyle (with drugs and alcohol abuse) led to several health problems, several rehab sessions, and it definitely took its toll on Lindsay’s looks and career.
2012 was the year when the IRS took control of her funds so her debts could be paid. The debt amount was around $200K, and it turns out that it was just a small chunk of her liabilities. In 2013, Lohan had the chance to be sponsored by Oprah to make a series of interviews for her show, and that brought $2 million to her bank account. Unfortunately for her, the accumulated debt with interests grew to over $1.5 million.
4 Chris Tucker
It looks like that good sense of humor comes with bad money management skills. When we say Chris Tucker, you probably think of the Rush Hour movie franchise. The actor earned around $65 million for the trilogy, alongside the title of one of the highest paid actors at the time. His debts, on the other hand, piled up from way back; Tucker evaded state tax for almost a whole decade, accumulating a debt of $14.5 million dollars. Of course, his assets and money in the bank are not enough to pay the debt.
“Poor accounting and business management” were the reasons for this enormous debt, his representative had stated. There are only speculations and rumors about this debt; no confirmed statements of Tucker’s splurging or problems. His two mansions in Hollywood and Miami had to be sold to repay a part of the debt, and the actor has reportedly reached a deal with the IRS. He’s trying to rebound by appearing on a comedy show on Netflix.
Born as David Adkins, the Michigan comedy prodigy got his breakthrough on a spin-off of the popular show, The Cosby Show. The lovable stand-up comedian reached his fame in the 90s with his own show, conveniently named The Sinbad Show.
In his prime, Sinbad bought a 10000m² beautiful home placed on top of a hill. However, in his 2013 interview with Oprah, he denied that he was living lavishly and that he used the money to help others as well as himself.
The former comedian filed for bankruptcy two times, owing $11 million at a certain point. That's a lot of unpaid taxes, and even the splendid hilltop home he sold didn't repay that. On the bright side, David Atkins has managed to score a gig or two and still has his lovely family. More than you can say about certain Hollywood stars.
2 Michael Vick
The first overall pick for the Atlanta Falcons in 2001, Michael Vick is actually the first African-American quarterback to be picked as a first overall in the history of NFL drafts. Michael led his team to the playoffs twice.
Having received wide popularity because of his plays on the field, Vick soon became obsessed with his carefree lifestyle.
The proverbial rock bottom for Michael Vick was in 2007, when he was found guilty of operating a dogfighting ring. Even though he claimed that it had nothing to do with animal cruelty, it cost him almost everything. After nearly two years in prison, Vick filed for bankruptcy mainly because of unpaid legal fees. Michael Vick has rebounded quite successfully as he was NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2010).
1 Warren Sapp
Hall of Fame member and an NFL 2002 Super Bowl champion, the defensive tackle from Florida has dominated the field known for his aggressive style and commitment. One of the best defensive players ever, Sapp was elected seven times to Pro Bowl squad. A bad boy on and off the field, he had several verbal incidents and was even expelled from the field because of unsportsmanlike conduct. Sapp was a huge spender and rarely took a look at price tags before making purchases. Sapp's spending lifestyle and a failed business attempt led to him filing for bankruptcy in 2012. Owing a lot in taxes and almost a million in alimony, Sapp had to sell everything including his huge house in Windermere, that was sold for $2.9 million. His total amount in assets amounted to $6.45 million, but his debt was over $6.7 million. He managed to pull out and after having his jersey (number 99, Tampa Bay Buccaneers) retired in 2013, he went on to become an analyst for the NFL Network.