You never know what you’ve got until you’ve lost it. And, a lot of famous celebrity families know what they’ve lost. Sure, being famous has its perks. The money, the glamour, and the lifestyle make it easy to understand why everyone wants to be famous. But, it’s not all its cracked up to be. Celebrities get caught up in blowing through their fortunes in a grand style and it doesn’t have to be just one person making all the mistakes.
Famous families are just as prone to making huge blunders with their money. From divorce to unethical parenting or from simply bad investments to dishonest outside influences, there’s no shortage of ways to help a rich and famous family spend their millions. And when they go down, it isn’t pretty.
We’ve scoured Hollywood and the business world and found two things. First, there are all types of families; from families who helped each other ruin everything, to one person who made poor decisions and eventually affected everyone else. We’ve even found families who are not families in the traditional sense of the word, but felt like one and now they’re all out of money.
Second, we’ve seen that some families dealt with these losses in various ways. Some have lost millions while others lost billions. Some have stayed poor and bankrupt and others have rebounded. Some families have stayed together through it all and some have fallen apart. Here are 15 families who had it all and lost everything. Some lost their fortunes, some lost their livelihoods, and some lost each other.
15. The Montags (Heidi Montag And Spencer Pratt)
We’re calling these two the “Montags” because everyone knows that Spencer Pratt was never really calling the shots in his relationship with Heidi Montag. Still, he had a profound effect on how these two blew through their completely unearned fortune. This Hollywood couple used to make $2 million per year doing practically nothing. They’d show up at fancy Hollywood parties and appear on the reality MTV series The Hills.
If you watched the show, you quickly realized that these two had no plan, no idea what they were doing, and no hope of making it out with the money they were making. They spent thousands of dollars on wines, as much as $15,000 per night on bodyguards, and tipped doormen $200 to open a door for them. It was like watching a very rich train wreck about to happen.
Amazingly, after the two blew through everything and were left with nothing to show for it, they found a way to stay together. The last word on the couple was that they were appearing on other reality shows trying to use each new show as a platform to get to the next. They still have little to no money and as of July 2016, they were living in Spencer’s parent’s vacation house in Santa Barbara. How lucky for his parents.
14. The Jacksons
One of the most famous families in all of entertainment, by 2013, the Jackson’s were pretty much broke. Even before the family lost a 40-billion US-dollar lawsuit against AEG over the death of Michael Jackson, they had struggled with debts and loathed each other. They particularly hated Michael for whom they felt varying degrees of jealousy and disgust stemming from his ability to go on and become the “King of Pop.” Michael wasn’t fond of them either and that distaste wasn’t his alone. It was at its lowest point when Michael and Janet Jackson decided to cut off their seven other siblings and parents out of spite.
During this time period, the brothers and sisters were eating three meals a day at Baja Fresh, where Janet had given them gift cards, thanks to a sponsorship deal she already had. Whenever anyone did anything nice for the Jacksons, it wasn’t met with a simple ‘thank you’ or appreciation, but an expectation. They believed they were the Jacksons and people owed it to them. The sense of entitlement between the parents and the kids is what ultimately led to their undoing. Eventually, Michael Jackson was also in debt and many say that he was already broke before he passed away.
13. The Strohs
If you ever want to learn how to blow through $9 billion, take a look at the Stroh family. In the 1980’s, the Strohs took over the brewing world and became one of America’s fastest-growing companies. Eventually, they’d amassed a fortune that Forbes then calculated was worth at least $700 million (equating today to about $9 billion). Yet today, the company barely exists having been sold for parts.
Peter Stroh bet the family business, borrowing $500 million to buy Joseph Schlitz Brewing of Milwaukee. For a while, they did okay. But because they tried to go national, they were wiped out by their competition when the costs of running a national business was too much for them to keep up with. Coors Brewing Co. beat them down so badly there was nothing left. The Coors are now one of the richest families in the world.
12. The Rimes
LeAnn Rimes is hardly broke, but you don’t have to have lost all your money for your family to have literally fallen apart. LeAnn Rimes currently has a net worth in the multiple millions, but her relationship with her parents is pretty much non-existent. Rimes’ career began when she was 12. She was an incredible singer and her debut album went multiplatinum, helping her become the youngest singer to win a Grammy award.
When Rimes’ parents divorced, the singer sued her father and a former manager for spending $7 million of her earnings on personal expenses. Normally, that’s where it ends. However, in 2001, Rimes’ father countersued her claiming that LeAnn spent her money frivolously on expensive cars for former boyfriends. Fortunately, LeAnne Rimes’ story ends well as she now has a loving husband and kids and seems to be quite happy.
11. The Hammers
The story of MC Hammer going broke isn’t really anything new. At his peak in 1991, he was earning upwards of $33 million a year. But just like that, it all disappeared. While he spent money frivolously, most of his money was spent on a not-so-small family he’d created to surround him. The idea here is that not every family needs to include immediate relatives.
Hammer was big on giving back to his community and keeping those who were struggling employment. He considered these people family and there were times he had a staff of over 200 people on payroll simply because they needed the money. Today, he’s lost everything and has become a minister and investor involved in a number of other ventures, including entrepreneurship coaching and business startups. This either shows that Hammer either still really cares about people and wants to work in places where he can better his community and fellow man, or he’s finding work in the only places he can. He still has millions of dollars in debt and all those “family members” he employed in his community are out of jobs.
10. The Coppolas (Including Nephew Nicolas Cage)
Francis Ford Coppola, who made such films as the Godfather trilogy and Apocalypse Now, had filed for bankruptcy protection in 1992 for the second time in three years. At one point, he was near $40 million in debt. The Chapter 11 bankruptcy covered himself, his wife Eleanor, and two of his production companies. I guess he didn’t learn anything because he filed for bankruptcy again and he ended up officially broke three times in nine years.
Not to be outdone, Coppola’s nephew, Nicolas Cage (who legally changed his name from Coppola to Cage), made over $150 million acting between 1996 and 2011. Blockbuster successes including movies like Gone in Sixty Seconds, National Treasure ($20 million), Snake Eyes, and Windtalkers helped make him one of Hollywood’s leading male actors. Cage spent millions on dinosaur bones, exotic pets, islands in the Bahamas, fancy cars, and collectibles. He’s still acting, but already in a bunch of straight-to-DVD garbage. Apparently, bad financial decisions run in this family. Hopefully, Jonathan Schwartzman (his cousin) doesn’t follow the same path.
9. The Culkins
Macaulay Culkin was a child star who made his name as the cute, sarcastic, and witty phenom of the Home Alone movie series. It launched him into super-stardom and earned his family a small fortune. As a child actor, all those millions were supposed to be put aside for when he grew up. Unfortunately, Culkin’s personal and family life changed everything.
Culkin’s parents split in the late ’90s and Culkin’s multimillion-dollar fortune wound up in limbo. After a bitter custody dispute and a fight for control over Culkin’s trust, the family accountant was put in charge until Culkin reached adulthood. A drug habit and some personal demons ate into Culkin’s fortune a bit, but he’s still doing quite well for himself. His family? Not so much. Culkin and his parents are, at present, estranged, so they have pretty much nothing. Culkin also broke up with hottie Mila Kunis, and losing both an acting career and someone like Kunis is enough to make anyone think they’ve lost it all.
8. The Hogans
Hulk Hogan was arguably the most popular superstar in wrestling. When his in-ring career was winding down, his family landed a show called Hogan Knows Best in 2005 and the family was worth a fortune. Then, things started to unravel.
In August of 2007, Hogan’s son, Nick, crashed a car into a tree while under the influence of drugs and wound up with an eight-month prison sentence. While Nick was incarcerated, audio recordings between Nick and the Hulkster wound up out in the media and it made the family look pretty bad. Right after Nick was released, his wife, Linda, filed for divorce. Then, the family show was canceled and daughter Brooke’s attempt to replace it failed. Meanwhile, the fortune Hogan had built up was slowly dwindling.
In 2012, Hogan was caught in a s*x tape scandal and found himself in a battle against entertainment-based blog Gawker. Portions of audio from the earlier s*x tapes came out in which Hogan made some racist remarks and was fired from his contract with WWE. Brooke’s career has gone nowhere, Hulk is out of a job, and Linda and Nick are pretty much gone from the spotlight. Hogan won and settled the lawsuit, but he’s still not where he wants to be.
7. The Vanderbilts
The Vanderbilts made their fortune in the 1800’s by building a railroad empire. The $200 million they made in that time equated to over $300 billion in today’s dollars. And, after Cornelius Vanderbilt (the Commodore) started it all, within just 30 years of his death in 1877, no member of the Vanderbilt family was among the richest in the US. 48 years after his death, one of his grandchildren is said to have died penniless.
The Commodore’s children and grandchildren tried to outdo each other by building increasingly large and lavish homes. They also set and followed the trends of New York’s high society, gave money away to fashionable charities, and held over-the-top lavish parties.
CNN reporter Anderson Cooper is the great-great-great-grandson of the Commodore and reportedly inherited nothing. His connection to the family didn’t help him get his start in journalism as he had to do everything on his own.
6. The Sheens
One of the most famous families in entertainment is also one of the most controversial. Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen seem to be doing okay (even though Emilio isn’t really acting any longer), but Charlie Sheen has been one of the more well-documented trainwrecks in all of Hollywood. His family now gets the unfortunate job of dealing with him since he’s moved back home. His brother also got to answer a million questions about Charlie in the latter half of his career.
Charlie Sheen threw away over $125 million of his fortune. He blew his money on expensive planes, drugs, women, and other frivolous items so much so that he’s having trouble paying his child-support payments to former wives Denise Richards and Brooke Mueller. It’s hard to think that simply being connected to Charlie has its pitfalls, but it seems to be that way. This family once was at the top of the Hollywood mountain. They are a far cry from that now.
5. The Coogans
Sometimes, the mistreatment of kids is so bad that they have to enact a law to protect future children from ever having to go through the same thing. That’s what happened to Jackie Coogan. Coogan starred in Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid and later went on to act as Uncle Fester in The Addams Family. He made a fortune as one of the first ever child stars. Unfortunately, his mother and stepfather blew almost all of his $4 million-plus earnings.
His mother felt that because Coogan had earned his fortune as a child, she and her husband were entitled to spend any or all of his money the way they wanted to. Using some sort of twisted logic, she felt every dollar a kid earns before he is 21 belongs to his parents. Jackie Coogan sued in 1938 and won only $126,000.
Coogan’s case eventually led to the creation of The Coogan Law which requires that a child actor’s employer set aside 15% of the earnings in a trust and codifies work hours and vacation time. What a mess that family was and what a shame for a defenseless Jackie Coogan.
4. The Kardashians
How could we make a list like this and not include the Kardashians? While their family life has always been one that is gawked and laughed at, the family took it in stride because they were making millions off people rubbernecking their struggles. Well, in April 2016, reports came out that the Kardashians were in serious financial trouble. The family now seems to be paying for a series of money mistakes, including debt-ridden boyfriends and husbands, a new $180-million lawsuit, and low ratings on their show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
Each member of the family seems to want to blame the other for crazy spending and of course, Kim Kardashian went and married Kanye West who, at the best of times, is blowing through millions trying to prove he’s more talented than he actually is. Even though the Kardashians still have their reality show, eventually, everything gets boring. Once the Kardashians lose their luster (and it looks like they are), they’re going to hit rock bottom real hard.
3. Kim Basinger And Her Little Family Town In Georgia
In another case where a family isn’t necessarily defined as immediate relatives, Kim Basinger almost crippled an entire town and the families that lived in it. In 1989 and for $20 million, she and other investors bought the town of Braselton, Georgia intending to turn it into a tourist destination. Because Basinger bailed on a movie role in the film Boxing Helena (that she’d confirmed she would star in) in 1993, a court handed down an $8 million judgment against her. She had to file for bankruptcy.
Still, the financial burden forced her to liquidate many of her assets and part of the dream she had to give up was on working with the town of Braselton. Even without her, the town seems to be thriving. The population went from a few hundred people to almost 10,000.
2. The Colemans
Gary Coleman is best remembered for his role as Arnold Jackson in Different Strokes. In the ’80s, he was one of the biggest stars in the world. However, in 1989, his relationship with his parents was irreversibly damaged. That year, Coleman sued his parents and a financial advisor for asset mismanagement and squandering much of a multimillion fortune he’d amassed from acting on the show. He was awarded $1.3 million, but a decade later, he filed for bankruptcy. In 2010, he passed away at the age of 42.
At the time of Coleman’s death, Coleman had not spoken to his parents in over twenty years. It was also reported that his parents had been completely cut out of his will. 1989-1990 was a rough year for Coleman and his family and it really never got better.
1. The Trumps
This entry is less about the fact that Donald Trump has already been broke and come back, but more about the fact that it seems inevitable that he and his family are headed for another catastrophic fall. Trump and his family hold the most powerful office in the world, but always seem a stone’s throw away from losing it all. Some people feel bad for the Trumps and others believe they deserve it. Either way (and all political opinions aside), just look at Donald Trump’s record and tell me you don’t see this fall coming.
Over his career in the spotlight, he’s been brought up on s*xual assault charges, racial housing discrimination, mafia ties, creation of a bogus university, intimidation of tenants, hiring of undocumented workers, violation of antitrust laws, refusal to paying workers, and filing for bankruptcy four times. That’s just for starters. All the while, as he should be acting as the President, he’s instead getting into social media wars with people like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Donald and Ivanka have lost multimillion-dollar business partners and few of the members of this family can seem to go more than a week without doing or saying something that comes back to bite them in the butt. If and when this family falls, everyone will be watching.
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