20 Celebrities Who Went Completely Broke
Given the choice, many of us would happily swap our regular, mundane lives for that of a rich and famous celebrity. The radical increase in available finances alone would be enough to entice us, that is until we remember that even the richest of the rich sometimes manage to lose it all.
We’re sure that the more money you have the easier it is to blow it all, but we still can’t understand how multi-millionaires could even come close to emptying their once healthy bank accounts.
But there are many examples of extremely rich celebrities blowing everything and going broke, and below are eight of the more extreme examples. So the next time you feel like you don’t have enough money, spare a thought for these poor little famous people who ended up with absolutely nothing.
20. Nicolas Cage
In his 90s heyday, in which he won an Oscar and starred in such major box office attractions as The Rock and Con Air, Nicolas Cage was commanding $20 million per movie.
Such was his regular fee, Cage at his peak was worth an estimated $150 million, but by 2009 he had blown it all.
How did Cage manage to lose $150 million? He spent it in a lavish spending spree involving real estate and obscure historical treasures, of course.
As well the expected items such as supercars, jewelry and a private jet, Cage is known to have spent big on such oddities as a dinosaur skull, a collection of shrunken pygmy heads and a couple of castle (one in Germany, one in the UK).
Cage’s collection once also included a pyramid tombstone in a New Orleans cemetery, as well as a number of ‘pets’ that included a shark, a crocodile and a cobra.
19. Brendan Fraser
You might not see him around much these days, unless you happen to catch him on television in supporting roles and guest spots, but once upon a time Brendan Fraser was a bona fide A-lister.
After taking lead roles in the surprisingly successful George of the Jungle and The Mummy, Fraser briefly became a Hollywood sensation.
At his height, Fraser was making as much as $12 million per movie. Unfortunately, however, this wouldn’t last.
After one too many action roles left Fraser’s once-muscular body damaged and after a #MeToo moment involving Hollywood power player Philip Berk left the actor depressed and ostracised, Fraser’s career went into a nosedive.
Following his divorce from Afton Smith in 2007, reports suggest that the majority of Fraser’s income now goes to paying child support. In 2013, he petitioned the court to reduce his annual alimony payment of $900,000.
18. Pamela Anderson
Despite a lifestyle that included lavish houses, expensive partying and multiple plastic surgeries, Pamela Anderson was managing to keep her finances on track, at least until the tax man came calling.
Yes, things weren’t quite so rosy after the Internal Revenue Service noticed that Anderson had been failing to pay her taxes, but to her credit she has since managed to settle things and climb back out of debt.
Back in the day, Anderson was worth a pretty impressive $35 million and was one of Hollywood’s biggest pinup treasures.
However, after losing all her hard-earned dosh, this all-American beauty star ended up living in a trailer park.
Despite being left to raise her two kids in the confines of a trailer, Anderson was optimistic over her situation, saying ‘it’s a special community’.
17. Wesley Snipes
Back in the early 90s, Wesley Snipes was one of the biggest actors in Hollywood. His roles in New Jack City, White Men Can’t Jump, Passenger 57, Demolition Man and Blade made him one of the best paid and most popular stars around.
However, sadly it turns out that he’s another celebrity who forgot to pay ‘the man’.
Snipes was actually sentenced to three years in prison for failing to file US federal income tax returns, beginning his sentence in 2010 in McKean County, Pennsylvania, and being released in 2013.
This wasn’t the first time Snipes was evasive over his financial income and he was involved in a similar scandal back in 2006.
Outrageously, Snipes even tried to dodge this rather large bullet by filing an appeal against his sentence, which was subsequently denied.
16. Gary Coleman
Star of the popular 70s and 80s sitcom Diff’rent Strokes, Gary Coleman was 18 years old when the show ended, but unfortunately his congenital kidney condition meant he appeared much younger, causing difficulties in him finding roles once he became an adult.
This meant that Coleman struggled financially later in life, and in 1989 he successfully sued his parents and business adviser over misappropriation of his assets.
Part of Coleman’s financial struggles also stemmed from paying his own medical bills, and he ended up resorting to some rather unusual tactics in order to make some bucks.
In 1999, Coleman set up an online action entitled ‘Save Me!’, on which he flogged his couch, a ‘tiny pimp suit’ and matching gold Nikes. Wow, what a look…
- Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Coleman sadly died of an epidural hematoma on 28th May 2010, aged just 42.
15. Lindsay Lohan
Despite predictions that she would go on to bigger and better things after starring in Mean Girls, a life of partying and addiction meant that Lindsay Lohan quickly fell from grace.
Despite not owning the millions that others on this list did, Lohan’s lifestyle did finally catch up with her in 2012 when she was forced to file for bankruptcy.
As of 2018, Lohan’s net worth was valued at just $800,000. That’s quite a fall from grace for this former millionaire.
Lohan resorted to finding other sources of income and had the super original idea of releasing an album, which sounds exactly how you would expect it to.
Unfortunately, the album was a flop, with Lohan’s outdated, cheesy pop tunes not quite taking the music industry by storm.
14. Will Smith
Did you know that multi-millionaire Will Smith was once in some serious debt? To be fair, it was a long time before he became a Hollywood A-Lister, when he owed the government $2.8 million in unpaid taxes, causing the IRS to seize most of his belongings.
Smith was about to declare bankruptcy until he was picked to star in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but he still had to pay the IRS 70% of his salary over the first three seasons.
He racked up this sizeable debt after being thrust into the spotlight with the release of the iconic album ‘Parents Just Don’t Understand’.
He quickly embarked on a lavish lifestyle, consisting of fast cars, designer clothing and motorcycles.
Smith soon realised that his new spending habits weren’t sustainable, but his lucky break meant he was soon able to pay himself out of any trouble.
13. Mike Tyson
- Credit: Wikimedia Commons
He may be one of the greatest boxers of all time, earning the WBC heavyweight champion title just four months after his 20th birthday, but Mike Tyson is about as good with money as he is at leaving people’s ears intact.
It has been estimated that Tyson earned around $400 million during his boxing career, but lavish spending on jewellery, mansions, cars, limousines, mobile phones, parties, clothing, motorbikes and even Siberian tigers, meant that he ended up $27 million in debt when he filed for bankruptcy in 2003.
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Tyson’s struggles weren’t helped by his substance abuse issues, and his habit probably apparently made quite a dent in his finances.
Luckily, after a few stints in rehab and the support of his family, Tyson was able to turn his life back around and ‘made it out of that hellhole’.
- Credit: Wikimedia Commons
His role in the Hangover movie series ensured his career was firmly back on track, and Tyson vowed not to spurge it all at once this time!
12. Johnny Depp
At the top of his game, Depp was raking in $30 million for every Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
However, Depp’s penchant for fancy cars, mansions and quite a few ‘fun pills’ led to his lavish lifestyle come crashing down around him.
In 2017, during a meeting with his financial team, Depp was dumfounded to learn that he had actually racked up quite a bit of dept.
Depp was quick to file a $25 million lawsuit against his financial team, alleging that they mishandled his millions and left him broke.
According to his management team, Depp spends $33,000 a month on wine (something which Depp vehemently denies, claiming it was actually much more. $33,000 is an insult!). According to the company, ‘wine is not an investment if you drink it as soon as you spend it’.
11. 50 Cent
In 2015, 50 Cent’s fortune amassed to a sizeable $155 million, making him one of Hip Hop’s wealthiest stars.
However, just a year later, it was revealed that 50 Cent was sinking in a massive $32.5 million of debt, leaving him bankrupt.
His financial struggles weren’t helped by the rapper being forced to pay $5 million after he released an explicit tape online, tarnishing his reputation in the process.
After selling his mansion for $2.9 million, it seemed 50 Cent’s financial affairs were back in order.
Despite this, the star still regularly makes some rather ambiguous references to his funds on Instagram, posting a picture of a dead man with the caption ‘yeah what he said, but no mouth to mouth PUNK. if you die your debt moving to ya next of kin.’ Charming!
10. Lisa Marie Presley
The daughter of a rock and roll icon, Presley has never been short of cash, and enjoyed a childhood full of ponies, private jets and personal theme parks.
Elvis was notoriously generous with his money, and apparently once flew his daughter to Idaho in a private jet after she asked to play in the snow, only for her to return twenty minutes later.
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She soon burned through her father’s $100 million estate, placing blame on the management company who allegedly squandered their way through the sizeable fortune.
After an acrimonious divorce from ex-husband Michael Lockwood, the singer-songwriter was left $16 million in debt.
Earlier this year, Presley was back in the spotlight after her mother resorted to selling her own mansion in order to support her daughter.
9. Kim Basinger
Basinger had a successful modelling and acting career back in the day, starring in Batman and, more recently, 50 Shades Darker.
In 1989, the star decided to buy her own town (as you do). She was expected to turn the settlement into a tourist attraction, but things didn’t quite go to plan.
Instead, she declared bankruptcy just four years later and was forced to sell the property.
Her financial difficulties were not helped when she was sued by producers for pulling out of an oral agreement to star in the controversial movie Boxing Helena.
After initially being forced to pay $8.1 million to the film company, this was reduced to a settlement of $3.8 after she successfully appealed against the decision.
8. Floyd Mayweather
- Credit: Flickr
Mayweather is one of the highest-paid, most successful and most controversial sports stars of all time. The boxing champion is renowned for his incredible winning streak, having never lost any professional matches.
His current net worth is estimated to be around the $560 million mark, but it hasn’t always been plain sailing for the star.
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In 2017, it was revealed that he owed more than $30 million in unpaid taxes. However, it’s not just his finances that landed Mayweather in hot water.
He’s previously been charged and sentenced for domestic battery and violence towards women, including his ex-girlfriend Josie Harris.
Mayweather certainly isn’t shy of spending his fortune, either, and owns several fleets of luxury cars, as well as supporting his expensive gambling habit.
7. Dennis Rodman
A true rags to riches story, Rodman enjoyed a highly successful basketball career and amassed a fortune of $29 million from contract earnings alone.
He also became a high-profile celebrity, raking in further millions from TV appearances and talk shows.
After a relaxing retirement spent acquiring private helicopters, a 74-foot speedboat and hosting lavish beach parties at his Newport Beach home, Rodman faced his downfall.
Owing $285,000 in taxes and $219,000 in child support, Rodman ended up completely broke and millions in debt.
- Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The stress took its toll on the star, and he ended up with a serious drinking problem that only added to his predicament. However, Rodman recently revealed that he was once offered $20,000 to impregnate Madonna. We bet he’s kicking himself now!
6. Michael Jackson
Despite being the actual King of Pop, Jackson was allegedly between $400 and $500 million in debt at the time of his death.
According to a forensic accountant, the singing sensation splashed the cash on jewellery, as well as his notorious estate which included his very own private theme park.
Despite receiving regular income from royalties, Jackson’s estate was hard to fund and upkeep, leading to his debt spiralling further out of control.
He even owned a zoo in which he kept exotic animals including tigers and elephants and, of course, Bubbles the monkey.
However, since his death, Jackson’s fortunes are back on the straight and narrow, with a $200 million record deal with Sony securing his finances.
5. Dustin Diamond
This Saved by the Bell star is no stranger to trouble, financial or otherwise. In fact, in 2014, the actor was arrested for stabbing another man with a knife.
In an attempt to claw back a taste of stardom, Diamond was reduced to selling autographed T-shirts after he failed to keep up with taxes and mortgage payments.
He also produced an explicit tape, which actually turned out to be fake, with Diamond using a body double. The film was entitled Screeched: Saved by the Smell. Hmm…think we’ll give that one a miss…
He even ‘wrote’ a memoir, Behind the Bell, which detailed the alleged sex and drug use behind the scenes. His costars were quick to denounce the allegations, arguing that many of these claims were untrue.
Diamond’s story came to a tragic end in February 2021, when the actor passed away after a battle with cancer, aged just 44.
4. Mickey Rourke
After starting out as a boxer, Rourke soon discovered a love for acting and made quite a mark on Hollywood.
Being thrust into the limelight came with its own struggles, and Rourke plunged into a cycle of reckless behaviour, substance abuse and debt.
After his Hollywood career came crashing down, Rourke just couldn’t accustom himself to this new lifestyle, and continued splashing the cash.
He once admitted her bought six Cadillacs, only to give them away to friends. He also purchased Shah of Iran’s bulletproof car, only to sell it on just two months later.
After racking up some serious debt, Rourke is now reduced to intermittent movie appearances to keep his finances in order.
3. Joey Lawrence
Lawrence has enjoyed a successful music and acting career, but he’s recently landed in hot water.
After the flop of his TV show Melissa and Joey, the actor, along with his wife, Chandie, was left to file for bankruptcy.
Apparently the pair owed over $355,000 in tax and credit card debt, and were even forced to flog their clothes on eBay in an attempt to earn some cash.
Lawrence has stated that throughout his 35-year acting career, he has come to earn $7,000 per month. This seems like meagre earnings when you compare it to other acting stars’ incomes.
After filing for bankruptcy, the former reality-TV star even had to sell his cars, including a 2014 Bentley.
2. M.C Hammer
At his peak in 1991, the Hip-Hop star was earning over $33 million a year after shooting to stardom with his hit album Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em.
After building his own pretty impressive mansion, Hammer splurged his cash on staff, a cinema and multiple tennis courts.
He even owned his own stables, which boasted 19 thoroughbred horses. Travelling in style was also high on the rapper’s list of priorities, and he soon amassed a Lamborghini, a private jet, two helicopters and a stretch limo. So nineties.
After becoming embroiled in several lawsuits, Hammer was forced to file for bankruptcy in 1996, with a whopping $13 million in debt.
These days, Hammer is an entrepreneur, investor and advisor and even occasionally makes appearances as a guest lecturer.
1. Jodie Sweetin
It’s a well-known fact that child stars often end up veering off the rails, and Sweetin is no exception.
After rising to stardom through her stint in eighties sitcom Full House, Sweetin turned to alcohol as a coping mechanism when the show ended.
Through years of alcoholism and substance abuse, Sweetin struggled to regain her former star status.
For years, Sweetin lived a double life, hiding her addiction from friends and family, including her husband.
Her hectic lifestyle soon caught up with her, and Sweetin discovered she had amassed over $53,000 in tax debt as well as being forced to pay a sizeable amount of child support. The former child star has since sorted out her tax dodging ways, and has remained sober since 2008.