Ask any celebrity about fame and they will all likely replicate the same feeling: it’s a gift and a curse. There are plenty of reasons why so many people prefer being rich rather than famous, including some of the world’s biggest stars. Fame is a tricky thing that not everybody can handle, as evident by the countless celebrities who have broken down. From an outsiders’ perspective, it sounds like an easy path to our dreams, but there are so many challenges that make many celebrities wish they could lead a normal life.
With the spotlight surrounding them at all times, their moves are being constantly watched by everyone else. It forces them to be in certain positions that most wouldn’t want to be in, such as facing extortion attempts. Over the years, we have seen celebrities being plotted against in hopes of financial gain or a power trip. It usually involves private photos, videos or information that they would rather not disclose to the public. Each celebrity deals differently with blackmail, some may negotiate with the perpetrators while others will immediately inform the police.
While we have seen many blackmail attempts following recent hacks of iCloud, there are other forms of extortion that are truly hard to grasp. The outcome of these cases may differ, as some matters are settled privately while the rest go to court. With some major names featured on this list, you will be shocked to learn that these 15 celebrities were victims of blackmail.
15. Justin Bieber Blackmailed With Racist Videos
In 2011, while filming the biopic Never Say Never, Justin Bieber delivered some controversial moments during filming, and some scenes had to be cut out for obvious reasons. In one clip, Bieber can be seen making some racist jokes about clip while also using slurs. The video found its way to a new owner who attempted to blackmail the star for a million dollars until negotiations dropped to $500,000.
Bieber’s representatives rejected the deal since the video was deemed dated considering his young age. When the video eventually leaked, Bieber issued an apology with several statements. But it’s been reported that the video was also used by TMZ to extort Bieber. While they didn’t request money, they did demand the singer and his team fully cooperate with them, and it appears that the deal fell through at some point with TMZ promoting the video.
14. Oprah Winfrey Threatened With Private Conversations
In 2007, Keifer Bonvillain attempted to blackmail Oprah Winfrey with conversations that had been secretly recorded. The content allegedly could have harmed Oprah’s reputation, demanding $1.5 million in return. The conversations supposedly took place between her employees, who had plenty to say about Oprah.
Oprah’s team worked with the FBI to trick the man into falling for their plot to arrest him. A year later, he sued Oprah for $180 million by claiming that she had released false information about him which led to him being arrested.
Bonvillain also threatened to write a tell-all book containing some secrets about Oprah’s businesses and actions that may not be viewed so favorably by the public, but his attempts were shut down by Oprah’s legal team.
13. Bill Cosby’s Illegitimate Daughter
Bill Cosby has become one of the most hated actors in America following the exposure of years of sexual assaults with several cases involved. Before Cosby’s reputation was completely tarnished in 2014, he had been blackmailed by Autumn Jackson – who claimed to be his illegitimate daughter – in another highly publicized case.
For years, Cosby had attempted to keep the case out of the spotlight by paying off Autumn’s tuition fees and some other expenses, but she soon dropped out of college and demanded $40 million from the actor.
When he refused to meet her demands, she threatened to tell her story to a media outlet. Cosby took action by recruiting the FBI to handle the case with Autumn Jackson being sent to prison for 26 months, although she would only serve 14 of them.
12. Cameron Diaz’s Past Comes Back To Haunt Her
For years, Cameron Diaz was the highest paid actress in Hollywood after starring in many hit films. Before her acting career, she was an aspiring model who partook in a racy photoshoot. Years after she found fame, the photographer John Rutter contacted her to remind her about the photos, demanding $3.5 million for them.
While one video did eventually leak, Diaz refused to cough up the money and informed the police about Rutter’s blackmail attempt. He had even forged her signature releasing the photoshoot, which the court found him guilty of, as well as other charges that sent him to prison for six years.
Once the photographer failed to reach an agreement with Cameron Diaz, he reached out to several sites in hopes of selling the private content but it appears that he was stopped just in time before he could do any further damage.
11. Hulk Hogan Blackmailed For A Million
The Hulk Hogan scandal not only rocked the wrestling world, it affected multiple lives around him. He had been filmed being intimate with Heather Clem, the wife of his friend Bubba The Love Sponge, and the tape managed to find its way to someone else.
Matthew Lloyd, who worked with Bubba, threatened to leak the tape unless his demands for one million dollars were met. A private negotiation took place between him and representatives on behalf of Hogan, who managed to lower the sum to $300,000. It’s unknown whether they followed through since the tape made its way to the internet soon afterward.
Once it leaked, WWE cut all ties with Hogan by releasing him from the company and removing him from their history. As for his legacy, it took a massive hit due to racist comments made during the filming of the tape.
10. Jennifer Lopez Sues Her Head Of Security
After one month of service, Jennifer Lopez decided to cut all ties with her head of security Hakob Manoukian. If Lopez’s allegations are true, then he wasn’t exactly an exemplary employee since he threatened to leak personal conversations that he’d overheard while driving her around.
He initially demanded $2.8 million to remain quiet, but Lopez took him to court with a lawsuit of $20 million. He fired back with one of his own after having been reportedly upset following an intense argument with Lopez and her entourage.
He was supposed to hire two police officers to provide security for Lopez’s latest music video shoot until he was later on informed to cancel the request since they had handled the hiring process. He also alluded to mistreatment on behalf of Lopez, which led him to quit the job.
9. John Travolta Extorted Over His Son’s Death
In 2009, John Travolta was going through tough times while dealing with the death of his 16-year old son, who passed away following a seizure. Sadly, that triggered some people to attempt to extort the actor by claiming that he was partially responsible for the tragic event.
An ambulance driver and former lawyer of his attempted to use a document allegedly signed by Travolta rejecting medical attention, but the court deemed it to be invalid since the forms are only used for minor injuries. The pair initially demanded $25 million from the Hollywood star.
Travolta and his wife contacted the police and then briefly took them to court before dropping charges, as they had been exhausted from the loss of their son and didn’t wish to follow through. While it’s a shame that the perpetrators got away with their actions, we understand the Travolta family’s wish to move on.
8. Kris Jenner Blackmailed With Footage
In 2015, Kris Jenner joined a wave of celebrities who had been hacked through their iCloud, which led to many of them being extorted for money. Not only did the hackers manage to achieve that, but they took one step further by gaining access to a camera in her closet – and threatened to release naked footage of Jenner.
She revealed all the information behind the case during an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, revealing a plot involving some creepy acts such as a marriage proposal to Kylie. It is unknown how the case was dealt with as we only know that Jenner refused to buy the footage.
Considering the fact that it never made its way on the internet, we are going to assume that the police were immediately on the case. It wasn’t the first time in which she faced threats; a year prior someone had harassed her with numerous phone calls, claiming that they had an adult tape featuring Kris.
7. Farrah Abraham And Her Ex Blackmailed Each Other
As usual, anything involving Farrah Abraham tends to be overly complicated, and such was the case with the release of a naughty tape starring her and Jonathan Lee Riches. According to co-star Riches, she had been blackmailing him with the tape which was recorded without his consent. He also claims that he was unaware Abraham was underage at the time, which she used to extort $1,000 from him every month.
As it turned out, there was a plot twist with Abraham claiming that he was the one blackmailing her. Her story didn’t add up considering her history — mainly the details behind her first tape — while Riches insisted that she had been attempting to sell it to different entertainment websites. It is unknown how the story ended since there hasn’t been an update regarding the case, although they likely settled matters outside of the court.
6. Cindy Crawford Was Blackmailed With A Photo Of Her Daughter
In 2009, Cindy Crawford and husband Rande Gerber were involved in a disturbing case revolving around a photo of their daughter. During a children’s game at the family house, a photo of their daughter Kaia was taken while she was gagged and bound to a chair. The parents were unaware of the photo.
It was apparently taken by the nanny as a joke that she planned to use, but somehow the photo found its way to Edis Kayalar who threatened to leak it. They had initially agreed to exchange a sum of $1,000 for the photo which Kayalar agreed to before changing his mind and asking for $100,000.
Crawford and Gerber weren’t taking any risks once the asking price went up, opting to inform the police about the extortion attempt. Thankfully, it was dealt with as expected with the FBI arresting Kayalar.
5. Gigi Hadid’s iCloud Hacked
In 2015, Gigi Hadid fell prey to a common attack for today’s celebrities: a group hacked into her iPhone. They threatened to release a series of personal photos and videos to the public, unless Hadid met their demands.
They were also ready to sell some content to different outlets, but it appears that the model managed to avoid any potential scandal. Hadid contacted the police and a private security firm to deal with the blackmail threats. It is unknown whether they were able to locate the hackers as there haven’t been any updates regarding the case.
Paying the hackers was never an option for Hadid who vowed to retaliate in the ways that followed. The hack was similar to numerous cases that took place during that period when celebrities had their iCloud hacked, but thankfully for Hadid, they weren’t able to follow through with their threats.
4. J. Cole Blackmailed Over A Retweet
With the release of his 2013 album Born Sinner, J. Cole was more than happy with the support he received from fans. The album went to be certified Platinum after a few months thanks to his hardcore followers, although one of them took it too far.
Someone tweeted a photo of himself aiming a gun at a little girl with a caption that notes he would buy the album if he were to receive a Retweet, otherwise, he would shoot his sister. It was one of the strangest blackmail cases, and Cole did actually retweet him. The rapper followed up by noting that had been the craziest thing he had ever encountered.
It triggered a police investigation which found that the uploader had been using a BB gun. He later released a statement apologizing for his actions. To make matters worse, he added that his mother got mad at him for putting himself and his sister in that position.
3. Tom Cruise And Katie Holmes’ Wedding Photos
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes‘ 2006 wedding received coverage from media all over the world, especially since it took place in Italy. It managed to stay in the news due to an extortion attempt that involved the couple during the years that followed.
The wedding’s photographer brought in his damaged computer to a store, but was taken advantage of by Marc Lewis Gittleman who found unreleased shots from the wedding. Gittleman contacted Davis Han Schmidt, who specialized in celebrity leaks at the time, and the pair demanded $1.3 million from Cruise.
Needless to say, the plot fell through as the FBI arrested both men for their link to the case. The actor was aware that other celebrities had been facing similar threats and worked with the FBI to identify them.
2. Terrence Howard Blackmailed Over The Size Of His Junk
Terrence Howard‘s marriage to Michelle Ghent didn’t last long as they split up just a year later. It went as bad as possible with plenty of arguments ensuing between them, mainly about the amount of money she is entitled to following the divorce.
Michelle asked for a hefty number while threatening Howard to release details, photos and videos about the underwhelming size of his junk with one recording apparently showing the actor dancing naked. He agreed to pay her $40,000 but that obviously wasn’t enough as she came back for more.
Apparently she also had some very personal details about his private life that Howard didn’t want to be made available to the public. When matters were taken to court, they sided with Howard by forcing the couple to change their financial agreement.
1. Janet Jackson’s Ex Husband Threatens To Tell-All
After having been together for 13 years, Janet Jackson and Rene Elizondo’s marriage came to an end with the latter making hefty demands. During their bitter divorce, he threatened to release a tell-all book in which he would reveal secrets about Janet’s private life, including his relationships with other women.
It was reported that Elizondo planned to include all details about the partners, from locations to dates, unless she accepted his demand of $20 million. Elizondo thought that he had been screwed over with Janet failing to abide by previous agreements, but the singer refused to pay him off.
Elizondo would later take her to court to settle divorce related matters, but nothing ever came of the tell-all book, which has many people thinking that Janet may have silenced him with a rich offer.
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