It’s no secret that the combination of celebrity and riches can lead to some very dark times.
While some folks know how to save their money, many famous stars are eager to throw their cash away on material things such as mansions, flashy jewelry, and rare cars. Others spend it all on their growing drug and alcohol addictions.
With these hefty spending habits, inevitably the bills pile up. Some of these celebs ended up having to tighten their spending habits to avoid bankruptcy, or even jail time, as they attempted to cheat the IRS out of tax dollars. Others declared bankruptcy.
Here is a list of 20 celebrities that went broke at one point in their career.
Oscar award-winning actor Nicolas Cage has delivered memorable performances in films such as Leaving Las Vegas, Adaptation, and City of Angels, but a string of real estate and tax problems have plagued the California native for years. There’s also the part about him blowing through his $150 million fortune on exotic cars, dinosaur skulls, and a pyramid tombstone in New Orleans. While he has a string of films lined up, the actor was last seen living in a tiny condo in Las Vegas.
Michael Vick became one of the hottest quarterbacks in the NFL, but the athlete was sentenced to 21 months in jail after pleading guilty to dogfighting charges. In 2008, the Virginia native filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after a string of bad management and loss of salary. Since these troubled times, Vick has found himself back in the NFL, and he’s set to retire at the end of the 2016-2017 season.
At one point, Brendan Fraser was one of those actors you’d catch everywhere. Now, it’s a rarity to see him in films, and it’s all because of a freak accident in 2012 that left him with an injured back. Add on a yearly $900,000 child support payment to his ex-wife, and the Indiana native has certainly seen better days.
Rocker Meat Loaf delivered a strong sophomore album with 1977’s “Bat Out of Hell,” but poor management forced the Texas native to go bankrupt twice in the ’80s. The rocker bounced back in the ’90s with singles such as “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” and “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through,” and he still tours and releases music regularly today.
While rapper MC Hammer has sold over 50 million albums worldwide and earned three Grammys in his career, his lavish lifestyle emptied out his bank account. The California native was forced to file bankruptcy and sell his mansion in 1996. Today, MC Hammer still makes TV appearances while preaching at various churches and events.
Lena Headey gained worldwide attention with the role of Cersei Lannister on the hit HBO drama “Game of Thrones,” but the U.K. native got into some rough money situations surrounding her 2012 divorce from Peter Loughran. The actress claimed to have only $5 dollars in her bank account because of the separation, which took place a year after “Game of Thrones” debuted. Since the divorce, things have been looking up for the actress. She has received three Emmy nominations and critical acclaim for her performance.
Iconic country singer Willie Nelson is no stranger to being broke. In 1990, the IRS seized a majority of Nelson’s assets with the claim that he owed $32 million. To help pay the costs, Nelson released the 1992 album “The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories?,” which gave the IRS $3.6 million. The following year, his debt was cleared. In 2011, Nelson had to file bankruptcy on Willie’s Place, which was a venue in Carl’s Corner, Texas. Even with these past financial situations, Nelson still manages to perform in front of massive crowds every night.
Former basketball star Dennis Rodman had a massive amount of child and spousal support to pay to his ex-wife Michelle Moyer ($860,376 to be exact) back in 2012. Rodman had some trouble paying it because he was flat broke from his alcohol addiction. The athlete currently makes money through club appearances.
While most celebrities seem to file for bankruptcy after reaching the top, Cyndi Lauper filed for bankruptcy in the beginning of her career during her stint with Blue Angel. After being sued by former manager Steve Massarsky, Lauper worked in retail stores and sang in clubs. Luckily, she was discovered by David Wolff, and she has since become one of the most iconic rock artists of all time.
While Mike Tyson is certainly considered one of the best in the boxing ring, his personal life seemed to overshadow his accomplishments. Tyson was forced into filing for bankruptcy in 2003 after managing to blow through his $300 million fortune on expensive items and high bets while accumulating nearly $30 million in debt. Nowadays, Tyson doesn’t bet on sporting events anymore, and that’s probably a good thing.
Rapper 50 Cent burst onto the scene with songs such as “In Da Club”, “21 Questions”, and “Candy Shop,” but his extreme spending habits caught up to him, and he was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with a debt of over $32 million. The New York native still performs concerts and makes appearances across North America.
In 1970, Larry King got a cozy gig as a color commentator for the Miami Dolphins, but that job was quickly taken away after the New York native was arrested for grand larceny for allegedly stealing from his old business partner. After years of trying to make a comeback, King was forced to file for bankruptcy in 1978 with a debt of $350,000. That same year, King was offered his own radio show, and that led to him hosting “Larry King Live” for 25 years.
Actor Burt Reynolds is best known for his work in The Longest Yard and Smokey and the Bandit, but his pricey divorce from Loni Anderson and a sneaky accountant stealing money from him caused the star to file for bankruptcy in 1996. The following year, he made a comeback in Boogie Nights, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Today, Reynolds isn’t broke, but he rarely makes public appearances.
Actress Natasha Lyonne came onto the scene with her portrayal of Jessica in the American Pie films, but the New York native went through a series of unfortunate events (multiple arrests, drug and alcohol addiction, health problems), and she eventually wound up broke and homeless. Fortunately, the actress bounced back with the role of Nicky Nichols on the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black,” which gave her an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.
It’s hard to imagine that Rihanna has ever gone bankrupt, but by the end of 2009, that was the case. The reason for her bankruptcy was poor decisions made by her former accountant, which lead to her losing $9 million in one year. Luckily, her career took off at extreme levels after that.
Self-described as the “world’s first supermodel,” Janice Dickinson had a resurgence in the new millennium with appearances on “America’s Next Top Model” and “The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency.” In 2013, Dickinson was forced to file for bankruptcy because of unpaid taxes and plastic surgery bills. Fortunately, her rich fiancé was able to cover her expenses.
Actor Gary Busey has appeared in over 150 films, including Lethal Weapon, Predator 2, and The Buddy Holly Story, which gave the Texas native an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. In 2012, he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy with debt reaching $1 million. Things have been pretty solid for him since his filing. In 2014, he became the spokesperson for Amazon Fire TV and won the 14th season of “Celebrity Big Brother.” He still manages to make television and movie appearances.
Actress Lindsay Lohan is more known for making poor decisions with her money than for acting these days. While she has earned around $30 million, she quickly spent most of it on lavish things and wound up trading in her mansion for an empty apartment. Her movie career hasn’t been hot in recent years, either.
It’s somewhat common to hear that one member of a band had to declare bankruptcy. It’s rare to hear that the entire band had to go through bankruptcy. That’s the unfortunate situation with U.K. boy band Blue, whose first three albums reached number one on the U.K. Albums chart. Years of spending money improperly caught up with all four members of the band. To make matters worse, the band were dropped from Sony one month after the release of their 2015 album “Colours” due to poor sales.
Pop star Lady Gaga has become one of the biggest acts in recent years, but a risky gamble made her flat-out broke. In 2009, the New York native threw her entire bank account into her Monsters Ball Tour in order to grab the attention of Live Nation’s Arthur Fogel. Luckily, he saw her vision and cut the singer a $40 million check. The singer talks about the situation in the documentary “Who the F**k is Arthur Fogel?”