30 Celebrities Who Lost Millions Practically Overnight
These A-listers are just as good at losing money as they are at making it.
It’s no secret that celebrities have padded bank accounts. We’re talking seriously padded—more than you or I could ever dream of. But a rapid influx of 7-figure sums does not, by any means, guarantee that money sticks around. In fact, in many cases, the bank accounts of the red carpet regime deplete just as quickly as they grow.
Don’t believe me? Just take a gander at these not-so-tall tales. You know: the one about the movie star who spent an assistant’s annual salary on wine—per month? Or the one about an MLB player who poured his fortune into founding a video game design company (that he then drove straight into the ground)? Herein, you’ll find all the details of these juicy stories and more. And for more delectable stories out of Tinseltown, check out these 50 Crazy Celebrity Facts You Won’t Believe Are True.
Though Depp is undoubtedly one of the most prolific actors in Hollywood, the fame and subsequent fortune accumulated by the star led to his ultimate downfall. According to his agents, he’s earned around $650 million dollars throughout the course of his career—most of which he has already spent. His wild spending (including $30,000 a month on wine alone), the actor’s newfound poverty has caused him to sue his agents for mismanagement of his finances. And for more great celebrity gossip, check out the 30 Celebrities With Surprising Overseas Endorsement Deals.
It’s no secret that the Mean Girls star has been in a steady downward spiral in the recent years. Not surprisingly, a part of this downfall has been due to a lack of funds. This issue with a steady cash flow led Lohan to beg for money on social media—and Charlie Sheen, in an act of party-boy solidarity, handed the starlet a cool wad of cash totalling $100,000 to help her settle the many debts she owed. Unfortunately, Lohan still owes $500,000 and has been unable to find work onscreen.
The National Treasure actor really knows how to spend his millions—on two castles (neither of which he has ever spent a night in) and a private island in the Bahamas, along with a dozen other properties. Due to this excessive spending and lack of leading roles, Cage declared bankruptcy in 2009, resulting in the loss of millions for the actor. And for more from this national treasure, check out his involvement in The 30 Funniest Celebrity Commercials.
In 1972, before Larry King was famous, he was accused of fraud by one of business partners in a deal gone wrong. Due to his reputation being tarnished, the broadcaster was unable to find work—resulting in King declaring bankruptcy in 1978, leaving him with nothing. Now, thanks to a few strokes of luck, the broadcaster has solidified his place back on top.
The youngest heavyweight boxing champion in history was worth over $300 million at the height of his fame. Now, a divorce, rape accusation, prison time, and the famed tearing-off of fellow boxer Evander Holyfield’s ear (for which he had to pay $3 million in damages) later forced Tyson to declare bankruptcy in 2003. Due to these unfortunate circumstances, Tyson is now $18 million in debt. And for more over-the-top A-lister behavior, don’t miss The 30 Most Outrageous Celebrity Interview Moments.
While Willie Nelson currently has an estimated net worth of over $25 million, the country-folk legend had a few very famous run-ins with the IRS. In the ’80s, Nelson received one of the highest tax bills in history after investing in a tax shelter that was ruled illegal by the IRS. Due to this infraction, it was reported that he owed the IRS $16.7 million dollars—though it was ultimately lowered to a cool $6 million by his lawyers. Like many other stars before him, instead of confronting the issue head-on, Nelson ignored it, causing the IRS to seize all of his possessions but a beloved guitar.
Courtney Love, the widow of the patron saint of all things grunge, Kurt Cobain, partied all of her earnings away in just a few short years. Despite receiving an estimated $27 million when she inherited the rights to Nirvana, the singer squandered all of it on excessive partying and spending. According to Love, however, she doesn’t mind living frugally—which makes her a startling exception in Hollywood.
The modern era’s answer to a boxing superstar, Floyd Mayweather, has been dealt more than a few financial blows in the past decade. In 2009, Mayweather defaulted on car loan totalling $167,000, and three years later, filed a $61 million claim in a local bankruptcy case. In 2015, it was reported that he owed the IRS $22.2 million dollars.
According to his closest friends and family, pop legend Michael Jackson was a “millionaire who spent like a billionaire.” These extravagant hobbies are made very clear in his famous Neverland Ranch—which ultimately cost Jackson millions, pushing him to the edge of bankruptcy. When Jackson died in 2009, he was $300 million in debt.
The Motown legend’s nasty divorce from his ex-wife Anna Gordy Gaye in 1976 led him to subsequently file for bankruptcy. In order to cover the $600,000 alimony payments to his ex-wife, Gaye handed over the rights of his album “Here, My Dear.” This, along with an expensive drug addiction, forced Gaye to flee to Europe in order to escape his debts.
Photo by John Minihan/Evening Standard/Getty Images
At the height of his popularity, the rapper was worth an estimated $33 million. Though, while fame may last forever, MC Hammer soon discovered that riches don’t last nearly as long. In an interview with Oprah, he didn’t blame his debt, totalling nearly $10 million, on excessive spending. Instead, the rapper blamed his money woes on his employment of 200 people in his community—an act of charity that drove the star into the poorhouse.
During Dennis Rodman’s NBA days, he had a salary of $27 million—not including his many endorsement deals. Though, after the cushy salary and all of the benefits of fame trickled out of his bank account, Rodman struggled to pay child support and ended up owing his third wife a cool $809,000.
Francis Ford Coppola
Award-winning director Francis Ford Coppola blames the majority of his $98 million in debt on the failure of his film, One From The Heart, that cost $27 million to film but only earned $4 million at the box office. Since filing for bankruptcy protection in 1992, Coppola’s bank account has seen better days with the success of the film The Bling Ring, earning around $20 million at the box office.
Though Ed McMahon awarded millions of dollars on game shows throughout the years, the television host did little to hold on to his multimillion-dollar fortune. This extravagant spending habit forced lenders to go after McMahon for the $644,000 he owed on a $4.8 million home loan, leaving him nearly penniless at his death in 2009.
When the Smokey and the Bandit star didn’t pay his mortgage for a year, Reynolds was almost forced to foreclose on his Florida home. At the time, in August of 2011, he owed $2.1 million to Merrill Lynch Credit Corporation. This further added to the financial hardships the actor faced after declaring bankruptcy after a high-profile divorce from actress Loni Anderson. Today, Burt Reynolds is only worth $5 million.
As it turns out, the Queen of Rap hasn’t paid taxes in 7 years—meaning that she owes the government nearly $1 million in back taxes. To make matters worse, she was sued by her former legal team for non-payment for services, leaving her with no defense and no money.
The child pop star hasn’t seen the limelight in quite a few years, despite his best efforts—meaning that his $100 million fortune he accumulated as a child is long gone. This not-so-humble fortune was earned by Carter by the young age of 10—and quickly dissolved by the mishandling of his parents. By 18, Carter had no money and owed $4 million in back taxes.
Brendan Fraser used to be a household name—and now, nearly penniless and attempting to jumpstart his career, he seems more like the rest of us. All of this trouble started when, in 2013, Fraser told a judge that he was unable to pay his child support, totalling $900,000 a year.
Curt Schilling, a former MLB pitcher, earned a little over $114 million during his 19-year career. After Schilling retired, he sunk most of his remaining fortune, about $50 million, into founding a video game that filed for bankruptcy in 2012. After this loss, Schilling was forced to sell many of his prized possessions—including his famous bloody sock.
The Orange is the New Black made enough bad decisions that ultimately led to the loss of her small fortune that she had accumulated in her early roles in American Pie and Everyone Says I Love You. Years later, Lyonne is back on top and feeling better (and, well, richer) than ever.
Unlike other stars in her same predicament, Toni Braxton was able to use her financial ruin to her benefit while paying back debts. The singer filed for bankruptcy twice, leaving her with little to nothing, two times in her life. This hardship allowed her to avoid paying over $13 million in debt to Sony Music.
Perhaps the most extreme case of riches to rags, the Grace Under Fire star went from A-list to living in a homeless shelter in just a matter of a few years. This relocation was partly due to Butler’s drug addiction, which took all of her money—and then much, much more.
Former American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino lost her North Carolina home in 2009 after the singer failed to make payments towards the $1.1 million loan. Barrino went from Grammy-nominated artist to homeless in just a matter of years after her success.
Often credited as being one of the most influential R&B artists of the ’90s, Lauryn Hill enjoyed life in the limelight—until, suddenly, she lost it. After the success of her 1998 album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill wore off, Hill’s public appearances became strange and often ended in brushes with the law. Eventually, Hill was sent to prison for failing to pay over a million dollars in back taxes.
The Blade star is still attempting to right wrongs he committed over a decade ago. After neglecting to pay $17 million dollars in back taxes, Snipes went to jail for three years—and is now appealing his case, claiming that his conviction was just part of a larger conspiracy.
She may live in a castle on Game on Thrones, but Cersei isn’t so lucky in the real world. In 2013, Lena Headey pleaded in legal documents that she had “less than $5 in her bank account” and needed a tax refund just to cover her living expenses. Thankfully the evil queen’s situation has improved since then; Headey’s ex-husband claimed, during their nasty divorce, that she makes an “estimated more than $1 million” per GoT episode.
Child stars are infamous for having it all one day and losing it all the next, and unfortunately, Willie Aames was one such child. In 2017, the former Gunsmoke star opened up in an interview about how his poor choices and drug abuse led to a stint on the streets. “I lost everything,” Aames said. “At one point I went from eating at the White House to sleeping in the bushes and brought myself back again.” At least Aames can say he wasn’t part of the 20 Craziest Celeb Twitter Meltdowns.
In 2009, New Jersey royalty Joe and Teresa Giudice filed for bankruptcy, citing over $8 million in liabilities. Unfortunately, though, the hardships didn’t end there for the reality stars: In 2013, the couple was charged in a fraud conspiracy after hiding assets during the bankruptcy case. Joe Guidice is currently serving a 41-month sentence for the crimes.
At least Sly Stone can partially blame someone else for his hardships. Though part of his problems were rooted in his drug addiction, a lot of the soul musician’s money woes stemmed from the fact that for decades, he was prohibited from collecting his songwriting royalties. In 2011, Stone admitted he was homeless and living out of a small camper; his luck only got worse when a jury ruled that, though his royalties were stolen, he technically had signed them away to a production company, and they would receive the money Stone lost.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Anyone who grew up in the ’80s remembers Corey Haim as the heartthrob in such films as The Lost Boys and Lucas. What few will remember, though, is that in 1997, the star filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing more than $200,000 in state and federal taxes. When Haim died in 2010, he was apparently “living in the Oakwood apartments with his mom, very broke, [and] very destitute.” Curious what stars were doing before they were in Hollywood? You won’t believe these 30 Awful Jobs Celebrities Had Before They Became Famous.
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