15 Wealthy Musicians Who Are Now Flat Broke

Sometimes being famous is not all that it's hyped up to be. Sure, most people would still take their chances, but they might not end up as victorious as they think they would. When you become a celebrity, you start to spend more money, which is only normal. However, some people do not know where to draw the line and all of a sudden they start spending more than they are making.

The more money you make, the more expenses you have. You can buy yourself a million dollar home, but you're still going to have to pay for maintenance, electricity, heating, and much more. What many celebrities do not realize is that just because they are famous now, does not mean they will always be, and so it is wise for new millionaires to place most of their funds into savings accounts or other safe investments to make sure their money lasts. It is also best to try to live a little more modestly in order to spread out your funds.

Many celebs lose their fortunes through divorce, gambling, drug addictions and many other outlets. They believe that their money will last forever, and are then shocked to find out that the IRS is after them because they forgot to pay taxes for years and years. These celebs end up filing for bankruptcy and trying to start over, but they always remember how much they had and some of them fall into depressive states. Luckily for them, they still have many contacts and fans that are willing to help them up from the ground.


15 TLC

TLC is a 90s band that took the world by storm with their original and catchy music. Rozonda Thomas, Tionne Watkins and Lisa Lopes instantly became famous beyond belief by releasing two multi-platinum albums and several singles. Throughout their musical career, these women kept their music fresh by mixing blues, hip hop, and rhythm together in one, big musical pot.

Although their success has been everlasting, the three women shocked their fans and managers by declaring themselves as broke. TLC's manager from Pebbitone Inc. refused to believe the singers' claim, and believed them to be trying to get out of their record deal. Whatever the case, TLC listed their assets and appeared in front of the court and fought to renegotiate their record deal, which they believed to be unfair and causing them too much money. In the years to come, it would seem like many different artists took notes from these 3 divas, and also filed for bankruptcy to loosen their record label's grip on their financials.

14 Billy Joel


Billy Joel was a billionaire back in his day, but unfortunately he couldn't keep his hand on his money like he does his piano keys. The musician learned the hard way that if you want to stay on top of your financials, you shouldn't give a bunch of money to your wife's brother to put in investments for you. Joel lost over $90 million dollars by hanging around the wrong people. He also lost millions because of his tendency to get married early on in his relationships.

Joel filed for bankruptcy on 3 different occasions, and coincidentally, was divorced 3 times as well. Although Joel went through his fair share of heartbreaks and risky investments, he is still able to smile and continues touring around the world in hopes of recuperating his millions. The Piano Man has managed to get back on his feet after facing many different types of obstacles and hopefully he has learned that if he wants to keep his money, he should refrain from getting married.

13 Cyndi Lauper

Unlike many of the celebrities on this list, Cyndi Lauper actually started off her career bankrupt and not the other way around. Before Lauper decided to go solo, she was in a band called Blue Angels. Lauper and her bandmates released an album through a record label, and were horrified to find out that it performed horribly. To make a bad situation worse, the Blue Angel's manager decided to sue them for $80,000 in hopes of making ends meet. At this point in her life, the singer had reached an all time low. She got a job at a clothing store and spent her days folding jeans and trying to work off her bankrupt status.

Afterwards, Lauper began singing in NYC clubs while she tried to workout a new record deal with her manager. Later that year, Lauper released her first record which landed her a number one spot in the charts back in 1980's, and put money back into her wallet.

12 Kelis 


Although many people have not thought about Kelis in years, at one point in time she was the person to blame for having the songs Milkshake and Bossy stuck in your head. Throughout her musical career, the singer released 5 different albums and also collaborated with many different R&B and hip hop artists. Kelis' most successful album Tasty was released in 2003, and it didn't take long before the singer started dating Nas.

In 2005, Nas and Kelis got married, but unfortunately their marriage only lasted about 5 years. At this point in time, Kelis was completely broke and 8 months pregnant. Kelis begged her estranged husband to pay spousal support and chip in with baby-related expenses, but he refused to pay her a dime. "My survival is based on Nas' will at this time. If he does not want to pay for an expense, it does not get paid," said the singer

11 Lil Kim

via Centric

Lil' Kim, who was born Kimberly Jones has been living off her fortune for quite some time now. It has been over 10 years since Lil' Kim has released an album, and so it is not too surprising to hear that the once successful artist has been falling behind one her mortgage payments, and is in the midst of losing her home. Lil' Kim purchased her $3 million dollar mansion back in 2002, and has struggled to meet her payments since 2010. The little diva has been sued by HSBC for neglecting her financial obligations and has also been getting hassled by the IRS because she owes them an estimated six-figure amount in back taxes.

Things do not seem to be looking up for the celeb and it would appear that she might be forced to leave her longtime home by the end of the year. Her attempts to get back in the limelight have failed her, and her next possible move might be to file for bankruptcy.

10 50 Cent


50 Cent has had a rough year and has been in and out of courtrooms while trying to legitimize his claim to needing financial help. Although the rapper has filed for bankruptcy, his process has been postponed because of the courts unwillingness to believe that the rapper is as broke as he claims to be. To be fair, 50 Cent has done nothing to help his case, and has taken to posting pictures on Instagram that include him showing off large wads of cash. The rapper then revealed that the money was in fact fake, and simply a ploy to maintain his "baller" status. However, the judge seems far from convinced and has ordered 50 Cent's assets to be examined once again, this time more closely.

50 Cent's financials took a big hit when he lost a $7 million dollar law suit last year. A woman named Lastonia Leviston sued the rapper because he posted a private sex tape of her on his website in order to attract more viewers and subscribers.

9 Courtney Love

Although Courtney Love was a successful musician back in the late 1980's and early 1990's, many people know about her for all the wrong reasons. I think we are all well aware that Love was married to the late Kurt Cobain, with whom she has a daughter named Frances Bean Cobain. Many of us also know about Love's tendency to abuse hard drugs and spend a lot of money on settling lawsuits. When Cobain passed away, Love inherited one of the biggest fortunes in 90's rock history, however, the Hole singer was unable to keep her hands on it.

Drug abuse and depression eventually lead Love to lose over $27 million dollars in Nirvana money. This money went towards settling a copious amount of lawsuits and eventually lead to Love losing her home. It was even reported that the singer also owed her psychiatrist the insane amount of $48,000 dollars for unpaid therapy sessions.


8 Goo Goo Dolls


When bands first get signed by a major record label, they are easily distracted by the promise of success and do not always read the fine print. This proves to be one of the major reasons why some musicians file for bankruptcy, especially when they end up owing millions of dollars to their label despite having had extremely successful albums that racked in loads of cash. In the case of the Goo Goo Dolls, this is exactly what happened. In their prime, the band sold over 2 million albums, but still ended up owing a substantial amount of money to Warner Bros.

In the end, it took the Goo Goo Dolls about 7 years to pay their record label back in full and in the meantime they did not receive a single penny from Warner Bros. This record label proved hard to deal with and, despite their success, the band members found themselves turning out their pockets to make ends meet.

7 Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson is one of the most reputable country singers of all time. So much so, that even people who have sworn off country music altogether have been known to give Nelson a free pass and even bob their heads to his music from time-to-time. When it comes to going broke, Nelson also has one of the most infamous reputations known in history. In fact, at one point this great artist's life was turned upside down when everything in his name was taken away by the IRS. It seems that good ol' Willie had neglected to pay his taxes and so the government did what they do best and took what they believed to be theirs.

In the end, the only material object left in Nelson's life was his trusty guitar, Trigger, which he had handed over to his daughter Lana for safe keeping. The singer eventually struck a deal with the IRS and began working an another album to pay off his debts.

6 Tom Petty


Tom Petty has faced many hardships and frustrations when it comes to working with label companies, and so he has done everything he could to free himself from their tedious ties. When dealing with record companies, it is important to know that most artists remain indebted to their contracts, despite having sold millions of albums.  Because of this Petty had made it his life's goal to ditch his label. The star was able to win his battle by withholding his newer album and filing for bankruptcy.

The musician first filed for bankruptcy in 1979 to rid himself of his pesky Shelter Records contract, which he still owed money to even though he had released two albums. Although Petty had hoped to remain a free agent, he ended up resigning with another record label, in which he release his third album. His newer album went on to be a certified double platinum and subsequently turned Petty and the Heartbreakers into big time superstars.


Earl Simmons, also known as DMX is one of the few celebrities who was actually refused the protection of bankruptcy because he failed to supply the courts with legitimate information. The hip hop star owed over $1.8 million dollars due to child support, contract disputes, and services. DMX was also prohibited from filing for bankruptcy for another 18 months because of the celebs', "[o]bvious inconsistencies regarding his income and assets, rendering it impossible to ascertain his financial affairs."

Over the course of Simmons' life, he has managed to father 10 or more children with different women. These women are still waiting on the star to pay them child support, which is one of the biggest reasons behind the hip hop star's million dollar debt. Hopefully, DMX has learned to use protection in the years to come to avoid any more financial setbacks, but I think we could all agree that that seems rather unlikely. 

4 MC Hammer


Becoming a celebrity can easily go to your head and make you act like money comes as naturally as breathing. Unfortunately for MC Hammer, he learned a little too quickly that having fun and spending money go hand-in-hand. In just a couple of years, MC Hammer managed to burn through his $30 million dollar fortune due to reckless spending and unruly expectations. MC Hammer became a hip hop legend in the early 1990's after releasing his album Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em. This album sold over ten million copies and instantly put the star on a $33 million dollar annual salary.

Sadly, the hip hop artist begun to live a little too lavishly and started to roll with an entourage of 40 or more people — who got to take advantage of his generosity. In addition, MC Hammer also spent over $30 million dollars on his mansion, and paid an arm and a leg for his 200 plus staff members. In 1996, the artist filed for bankruptcy after facing a couple of copyright infringement lawsuits. In the end, he owed $13 million dollars and was forced to sell his home. 

3 Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill is an amazing singer who has associated her fame with captivity. In 1998, Hill released her album, Miseducation, and received a lot of praise for its context and originality. Miseducation was the first hip hop album to win album of the year at the Grammy's, but instead of embracing her fame, Hill sought the comfort of solitude.

Although the only thing The Fugees' singer really wanted was to be left alone, she would soon be hit with a major lawsuit and be forced to stand in crowded courtrooms. A group called New Ark brought Hill to court claiming that they had helped her create the majority of her album and wanted additional credit. The lawsuit lasted over 2 years, and Hill eventually paid them $5 million dollars. She would go on to spend 3 months in prison for owing back taxes to the IRS and not having the funds to pay.

2 Mick Fleetwood


When you have become accustomed to fame and what it entrails, it can be very easy to start spending like there is no tomorrow. However, when it comes to Mick Fleetwood, he learned the hard way that tomorrow is only a day away, and that bad habits have the tendency of catching up to you. In his case, the glorified drummer admitted to spending thousands of dollars on alcohol and drugs every single month for many years. On top of that, he began to impulsively purchase expensive homes all around the world and dealt with 3 different divorces.

Fleetwood has admitted to losing count over the amount of times he's filed for bankruptcy, and funny enough he has taken to comparing himself to Donald Trump because of the grandiosity of his financial failures. The musician first went bankrupt in 1984, and has since then juggled with his bank accounts and obligations.

1 Toni Braxton  

When it comes to filing for bankruptcy, I think we could all agree that Toni Braxton deserves a golden medal. Braxton is considered as one of the most successful R&B singers of all time, so much so that she was given the name, "Queen of R&B" back in the 1990's.  She has had the opportunity to release many albums, which all performed exceptionally well, yet for some reason the singer filed for bankruptcy twice in 15 years.

Braxton went bankrupt in 1996, and again in 2010 due to an insurmountable amount of debt. The singer claims that her assets amounted to over $1 million dollars, while her debt ranged from $10-$50 million. The Grammy Award-winning singer still owed about $13 million dollars to her former label and another $3 million dollars to the IRS and other companies. Luckily for Braxton, she was able to walk away from her $16 million dollar debt by filing for bankruptcy.

SourcesCentricTVNew York PostGuardian

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