Top 10 Celebrity Bankruptcies
1. MC Hammer
Ask anyone who grew up in the 1990’s to name an MC Hammer song, and I can guarantee that not only do they know lyrics, but they also had the dance moves to go with them. As one of the biggest hit makers during his time, MC Hammer had an entourage that rivaled the Queen of England’s- and it showed on his bankroll.
He paid 300 people approximately $500,000 a month. Apparently he wasn’t “Too legit to quit” because in 1996 he filed for bankruptcy to stop paying on the $13 million he owed. The debts included $110, 000 to an interior decorator, $100,000 to the IRS, and over $500,000 to a lawyer.
2. Burt Reynolds
In the 1970’s Burt Reynolds was the man. He owned mansions on both coasts, a helicopter, a Florida ranch and a hot wife. Life couldn’t get better, so instead it got worse.
After a few not-so-stellar movie choices, and a pretty pricey divorce from his wife, his finances weren’t the hottest. In 1996 Reynolds filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, owing over $10 million in debt. He was able to keep his $2.5 million dollar Florida home under the Chapter 11 homestead exemption, and paid back a portion of the debt over the next two years.
3. Larry King
Larry King estimated wealth today is at $50 million, nearly 30 years after filing bankruptcy. In 1978 King was in a dire financial situation. He had been accused of stealing money from his business partner and charged with grand larceny. The charges were dropped, but the scandal hadn’t help with his career.
Eventually his talent shined as the scandal dimmed, and after a few good money moves (and a few good prenups -he’s been married seven times), he’s found monetary success.
4. Willie Nelson
Nelson had a similar problem as MC Hammer; he liked a big entourage and he paid them well. So well, in fact, that his sideman drummer is in the “Guinnes Book of World Records” as the world’s highest-paid for his position.
In 1990 the government was tired of waiting for $16.7 million in past taxes, so they seized his bank accounts, his Texas ranch, and his gold records. Nelson released an album called “The IRS Tapes: Who Will Buy My Memories?”- and became a Taco Bell spokesperson- to help settle his debts. In 1993 his bill was officially paid and his finances back in stable order.
5. Donald Trump
Besides his hair, Donald Trump is famous for his successful real estate adventures and extravagant lifestyle. And then there are his bankruptcies, err, his casinos. His casino ’empire’ first filed bankruptcy in 1992. Then again in 2004. And then again in February 2009.
He’s lost billions in this business venture, yet fortunately for Trump he has his TV gig and real estate to keep his personal finances afloat.
6. Don Johnson
Pay attention to this one, it has a better plot line than most of the shows this celebrity has been a part. Don Johnson, known mostly for his Miami Vice days, is the owner of a poorly named company called Timber Doodle Glad Equity Venture LLC, and he also owns a ranch called Woody Creek in Denver, Colorado.
In March of 2004 Johnson owed $950,000 to City National Bank, which was just a small part of his $14.5 million in debts. City National Bank filed a lawsuit to auction off his house in order to pay for their portion. So Johnson had his company file Chapter 11 bankruptcy, to use the money that should have been going to creditors to pay off his personal debts, which he was able to with less than 24 hours before the auction of his ranch. Whew… what a nail biter!
7. Mike Tyson
As one of the youngest heavyweight champions ever, Mike Tyson earned millions for just one fight, receiving over $300 million in his career. He was a big guy, making big money, and spent it on a big lifestyle. One of those big purchases was a pair of pet tigers, which was just a small dent in his big debt.
Tyson owed $13.3 million to the IRS, had $400,000 in monthly expenses, and had amassed a bill of $27 million dollars owed to creditors. In 2003 both he and his company, Mike Tyson Enterprises, filed for bankruptcy. Now all he has is his tattoo and gold teeth.
8. Wayne Newton
Wayne Newton, also known as Mr. Las Vegas because of his 30,000 solo shows in the city, had to file for bankruptcy in 1992. He spent years suing NBC in a nasty libel case about ‘apparent’ ties with the mafia and eventually accrued over $25 million in debt, including $341,000 for back taxes.
Luckily for him, dark hair and fake tans brought him fame and fortune at the Stardust Hotel, which has a contract that ‘apparently’ pays him $25 million a year for performing 40 weeks out of the year for 10 years. He’s been sittin’ pretty in sin city since 1999.
9. Kim Basinger
Kim Basinger is a model turned actress, and a good one at that. Not only is she good looking, but she made good career moves that led her to win a Golden Globe Award, Academy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
Unfortunately, she’s not as good as an entrepreneur. In 1989 Basinger bought a small town in Georgia that she wanted to turn into a Hollywood hangout with movie studios and film festivals. She also decided to back out of the movie “Boxing Helena” (good career move). Basinger was sued for backing out of the movie and after encountering financial difficulties with make a small city in Georgia cool, she filed for bankruptcy in the early 1990’s.
10. Cyndi Lauper
In the 1980’s you couldn’t go an hour without hearing one of Cyndi Lauper’s pop hits, but it wasn’t always that way. Before her hit album “She’s So Unusual,” her previous band called Blue Angel released an album that did not make any money. The band fired their manager, broke up and then sued by their ex-manager for breach of contract.
In 1980 Lauper had to file for bankruptcy and work in retail just to scrape by. Fortunately, she was soon just a girl having fun at the top of the charts and a huge pile of money.