Famous People File Bankruptcy
Top 20 Celebrities who have Filed Bankruptcy
The Donald has a famous hairstyle and declared bankruptcy four times. In 1991, 1992, 2004 and 2009. Fortunately, he has his TV show and the rest of his real estate empire to help him stay afloat financially.
The original Fergie, Sarah Ferguson, may become the first royal family member to file bankruptcy. With debts reportedly totaling just under $8 million, the Duchess of York was hoping to sell off family heirlooms on QVC to raise some money.
In 1993, Oscar-winning actress Kim Basinger was ordered to pay over $8 million to Main Line Pictures. She was sued for breach of contract and was charged with backing out of a verbal agreement to star in the film “Boxing Helena.” Basinger filed bankruptcy, and the court’s decision was later reversed during an appeal.
Walt Disney started a company named “Laugh-O-Gram” in 1920 to produce his first animated fairy tales. Disney started assembling his team of animators and legend says that the office space was infested with mice, including one mouse that had a lot of personality and received a special nickname of Mickey.
His New York-based financial backers ended up going broke, and Disney could no longer cover his payroll or his debts. The company filed for bankruptcy protection and Disney scraped together the funds to take a bus to Hollywood. Once he arrived, he put his own name on a new production company, and invented his newest animated character.
The Walt Disney Co. today is one of the largest companies in the world with a market value of almost $80 Billion!
Burt Reynolds was $10 million in debt when he filed for bankruptcy after his 1996 divorce. Then, he went on to win a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in the movie Boogie Nights.
Longest working star in Hollywood, Mickey Rooney filed for bankruptcy in 1996. He owed $1.75 million to the IRS.
Tom Petty’s first albums were a smashing success with his band the Heartbreakers, although his bank account did not grow along with his fame. Record companies are infamous for restrictive recording contracts with conditions that keep even top selling artists in the poor house. When Tom Petty’s label, Shelter Records, was sold to MCA he jumped on the opportunity to declare himself a free agent. When MCA balked, Petty paid $500,000 out of his own pocket to record his next album and held it back as a bargaining chip against MCA.
In 1979, he finally declared bankruptcy to gain more leverage in the legal dispute to get out his unfavorable recording contract. MCA ultimately gave in allowing Petty out of his original contract and signing a new $3 million contract with him.
His new album, “Damn the Torpedoes” was finally released featuring “Don’t Do Me Like That” and “Refugee”, went certified double platinum, and made Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers into true rock and roll superstars.
The “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” singer had to file for bankruptcy in 1981 and worked in retail because her record contract with Blue Angel music didn’t work out. She then bounced back and made it big again with her albums like “She’s So Unusual” and “True Colors”. Cyndi Lauper’s estimated net worth today is $6 Million
After many successful years as a recording artist, Natalie Cole (the daughter of recording legend Nat King Cole) had a career pause. She had problems with drug addiction in the early 80’s and by 1985 she was doing much better, but still filed for bankruptcy protection in 1997.
Her career picked up again in the late 90’s, and she won the “Hitmaker Award” for the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 1999. Natalie was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2008 and had a life saving kidney transplant but continues to record and inspire people around the world today.
M.C. Hammer’s rise to fame came with a crushing blow to his personal finances. Racking up some of the biggest musical hits in the 90’s he also had an entourage (and payroll) to match. He reportedly paid over $500,000 a month to a staff of 300 people and in 1996, had accumulated $13.7 million of debt with only $9.6 million in assets. Hammer filed for bankruptcy with debts that included $500,000 in attorney fees, $110,000 to his decorator and $100,000 to the IRS.
Retired former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson won the WBC title as a 20 year old and quickly became one of the most famous athletes in the world. He went on to have a very successful boxing career. Although Tyson received over $30 million for several fights and a career income estimated at $300 million, he filed bankruptcy in 2003.
He had a very difficult and public divorce from ex-wife Robin Givens and blamed his financial situation on excessive spending on mansions and expensive cars. Tyson also blamed bad financial advisors and embezzlement as other causes for his bankruptcy.
Mike Tyson’s Estimated Net Worth today is under $5 million.
Abe Lincoln was the nation’s 16th President and was forced into bankruptcy in 1833. He had a poorly performing retail business and back payments of debt. Lincoln lost his last two assets, his home and some surveying equipment, and spent 17 years paying back the rest of the money to all the friends who had lent him funds to start his business.
The former talk show host Larry King filed for bankruptcy protection with $352,000 of debt. This was back in 1978 when his career was just beginning. He embattled in a bitter scandal when he was accused of stealing money from his business partner Louis Wolfson. was less financially savvy then, but fortunately his career improved and seven years later, CNN debuted Larry King Live, the cable station’s longest-running show.
Henry Ford, a perfectionist who had a tough time producing enough cars to make a profit went broke and filed for bankruptcy in 1901. He reorganized his business several months later. He eventually left that business behind and finally got his car company production methods right by 1903, when he founded a new business that went on to become very successful, called the Ford Motor Company.
Anna Nicole Smith
Anna Nicole Smith, the Former model and 1993 Playboy Playmate of the Year was charged in a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by an employee in 1996. She lost the suit and filed bankruptcy due to an $850,000 judgment stemming from the lawsuit, along with other debts. The star apparently misplaced millions of dollars in jewels, and among debts listed in the bankruptcy filing was a $265.63 gas bill. After Smith’s 89-year-old billionaire husband J. Howard Marshall died, a battle began between her and her husband’s family over his estate. The bankruptcy court got involved since any possible money from the Marshall estate would be considered as potential assets. A Los Angeles bankruptcy court awarded Smith almost $500 million from the Marshall estate in 2000. In 2001 a Texas court ruled that Smith was not entitled to anything, and ordered her to pay $1 million in legal costs.
Due to the conflicting judgments between California and Texas courts, the case went to the federal court. The decision to award Smith any money from the Marshall estate switched back and forth, with decisions overruled and a final Supreme Court decision unanimously decided in favor of Smith’s right to pursue a share of her husband’s estate in federal court. Since Anna Nicole’s death, the case has been continuing on, in an effort to receive funds for Anna Nicole’s infant daughter. Lawyers for Anna Nicole’s estate have requested an appeal, and in September, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case again.
Ed McMahon, legendary sidekick to Johnny Carson, filed bankruptcy when he came up short $644,000 on the payments for his $4.8 million home loan. The lender filed a default notice on McMahon’s Beverly Hills mansion.
Willie Nelson is one of Country Music’s living legends, Willie Nelson, with over 50 million records sold was a well known as a big spender with a generous heart. In 1997, the government seized Nelson’s gold records, Texas ranch and bank accounts to pay off about $16.7 million in back taxes.
The hit singer of “I heard it Through the Grapevine” filed for bankruptcy in the 70’s after paying the divorce settlement for his first wife of 14 years, Anna Gordy. He continued to struggle, having tax and drug problems, and moved to Europe to avoid the IRS. However, bankruptcy never stopped Marvin Gaye from coming back and in the 1980′s. He released some of the most well known songs in history including the Grammy winning “Sexual Healing”.
Gary Coleman, former child star of the sitcom “Different Strokes”, suffered financial problems due to lifelong kidney issues and poor money management. In 1993, he had to pay a settlement due to a 1993 lawsuit. The star had earned $70,000 for each episode of the show and in 1999 had to file for bankruptcy.