16 celebrities who’ve gone broke

Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Have you ever wondered how you’d fare if you amassed millions of dollars? Many assume that if they struck it rich, they’d never have to worry about money again. But the reality is that even those with big money can lose big. After all, even highly paid stars struggle with their spending.

While it’s hard to believe, there have been a decent number of celebrities over the years who have been forced to file for bankruptcy, some even going through periods of homelessness. From lawsuits and tax evasion to unwise spending and lavish living, it happens time and again. Here’s a roundup of celebrities who’ve lost it all.

1. 50 Cent

Known for his illustrious rapping career, 50 Cent was named one of the five wealthiest hip-hop artists back in May 2015, with an estimated net worth of $155 million. However, a series of bad investments—plus a major lawsuit in which he was ordered to pay $5 million to Rick Ross’ child’s mother after posting a revenge sex tape of her online—forced him into bankruptcy. And while rumors circulated recently that the rapper had become a bitcoin millionaire, they turned out not to be true.

50 cent photo
Getty Images | Pascal Le Segretain

2. Nicolas Cage

A number of poor decisions have placed this “National Treasure” star in deep financial trouble. There was his extravagant spending on items like exotic pets and a collection of shrunken heads. There was the $14 million in back taxes he owed to the IRS.

In 2009, he was slapped with a $13 million lawsuit by his ex and, later that same year, he was sued by a real estate company that claimed he failed to repay millions of dollars in loans after purchasing multiple castles and private islands during the housing bubble. Today, he continues to star in movies, so we’re guessing he’s earning some of those lost Benjamins back.

nicholas cage photo
Getty Images | Sascha Steinbach

3. Lisa Marie Presley

In Feb. 2018, court documents claimed that Lisa Marie Presley had $16.7 million worth of debt, caused by a defaulted mortgage, credit card bills and more. That same month, she entered a legal battle with her financial manager, claiming that he was negligent and had mismanaged her fortune, leading her to financial ruin. Currently, she is suing him for a sum of $100 million.

Lisa Marie Presley photo
Getty Images | Christopher Polk

4. Aaron Carter

The little brother of the Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter was once a popular pop star himself. With hits like “Aaron’s Party,” which sold three million copies in the U.S., and appearances on Nickelodeon, he was a bona fide heartthrob. However, he ended up filing for bankruptcy in 2013, having an estimated debt of $2 million, most of which were unpaid taxes. Since then, he’s been on “Dancing With the Stars” and a few Broadway shows. This year, he released his fifth studio album.

aaron carter photo
Getty Images | Frazer Harrison

5. Joey Lawrence

The “Blossom” alum, whose show “Melissa & Joey” came to an end in 2015, filed for bankruptcy along with his wife Chandie Yawn-Nelson in 2017. According to The Blast, at the time of filing, the couple only had $8,000 in the bank. Between unpaid loans, credit card debt, back taxes and unpaid rent, Lawrence’s expenses left him in the red by nearly $19,000 per month.

Joey Lawrence photo
Getty Images | Tommaso Boddi

6. M.C. Hammer

Back in 1991, Forbes estimated that the “U Can’t Touch This” singer had a net worth of over $33 million. But living way too large put Hammer in the hole just five years later, with an estimated debt of $13 million. He filed for bankruptcy in 1996. Today, Hammer has turned things around. He owns his own record label, preaches, manages 22 mixed martial artists, gives lectures about new media at venues like Harvard, and more.

MC Hammer photo
Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

7. Toni Braxton

The famous Grammy-winning singer Toni Braxton has filed for bankruptcy twice: once in 2010 and another time in 2013. Though she sold millions of dollars in album sales, she received less than $2,000 in royalties from her first recording contract, and stayed in debt to her record company for some time.

Rocky financial times aside, she’s gone on to appear on “Dancing With the Stars,” and has her very own reality show, “Braxton Family Values.”  Money issues aside, she’s sold over 67 million records worldwide and is the owner of seven Grammys, nine Billboard Awards and seven American Music Awards.

Toni Braxton photo
Getty Images | Randy Shropshire

8. Linsday Lohan

Known for roles in hits like “The Parent Trap” and “Mean Girls,” this former child star did all her growing up in the spotlight—and it wasn’t a smooth journey. In 2010, the NY Daily News reported that she owed $600,000 in credit card debt. Two years later, she settled a $93,000 debt with the IRS. In 2016, she was kicked out of her London apartment because she owed $137,000 in rent.

Today, her appearances in the tabloids have grown fewer, and she’s making a return to TV with a role in “Sick Note.”

lindsay lohan photo
Getty Images | Tim P. Whitby

9. Larry King

Today, Larry King is widely recognized as one of the greatest talk show hosts of our time. However, King has experienced some serious setbacks over the years, including an accusation of grand larceny by a former business partner. In 1960, he filed for bankruptcy, and again in 1978 after ending up in over $350,000 of debt thanks to frivolous spending. Ironically enough, this was the same year he took a nationally syndicated radio job leading to a complete overhaul of his career. King debuted on CNN on “Larry King Live” in 1985, and the rest is history.

Larry King photo
Getty Images | Rich Fury

10. Stephen Baldwin

The youngest Baldwin filed for bankruptcy in 2009. He owed over $2.3 million in mortgages and credit card debt, and also was arrested for tax evasion in 2012 for not paying taxes in 2008, 2009 or 2010. After pleading guilty, he was given a year to pay off $400,000 in debt, which he did successfully.

Matthew Eisman/Getty Images

11. Tori Spelling

Tori Spelling, daughter of multimillionaire producer Aaron Spelling, has had big-time issues living within her means. She credits her difficulties with money to the fact that she grew up privileged and extremely wealthy. Recently, she was forced to pay $220,000 to City National Bank after she and her husband Dean McDermott reneged on a 2010 loan. And in 2016, the couple got hit with a federal tax lien for over $707,000 in unpaid federal taxes for their 2014 bill. Making matters worse, they were sued by American Express that same year for nearly $88,000. These are just a few examples of their ongoing financial woes.

Tori Spelling photo
Getty Images | Joe Scarnici

12. Mike Tyson

Boxer Mike Tyson earned more than $300 million over the course of his epic career. Despite his incredible wealth, he filed for bankruptcy in 2003—an estimated $23 million in debt—and also went to jail for cocaine problems. He has since bounced back, and now mentors boxers in addition to performing in a one-man play based on his life at the MGM Las Vegas.

Mike Tyson photo
Getty Images | Frederick M. Brown

13. Johnny Depp

Depp, the fifth highest paid actor in Hollywood in 2016, has been under fire for spending lavish amounts of money on a number of things, including $18 million on a 150-foot yacht and $4 million on a failed record label.

In 2017, Depp sued his former business managers, claiming that they made unwise financial decisions without his consent. His managers have since counter-sued, saying he alone is to blame for his money problems. He hasn’t filed for bankruptcy yet but, according to his lawsuit, the “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor is estimated to be $40 million in debt.

Johnny Depp photo
Getty Images | John Phillips

14. Chris Tucker

This famous comedian, who was one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors at one point, found himself in dire financial troubles after the government filed a $2.5 million dollar tax lien against him. This was in addition to a previous $12 million bill, making the grand total of debt upwards of $14 million. As of April 2017, Tucker’s net worth was $11.5 million, and he has since reached a deal to settle the enormous debt with the IRS.

Chris Tucker photo
Getty Images | Andreas Rentz

15. Michael Jackson

Despite being one of the most beloved musicians of all time, the King of Pop passed away owing upwards of $500 million dollars. After being unable to repay a $25 million loan on his home, the Neverland Ranch, he filed for bankruptcy in 2007. Despite financial woes, Michael Jackson remains one of the most prolific entertainers in history, and his hit, “Thriller,” is by far the best-selling album of all time, with 32 million units sold.

Michael Jackson photo
Getty Images | Getty Images

16. Kanye West

Who remembers when Kanye West tweeted he was in $53 million in debt? The famed rapper’s fashion-world endeavors, which included launching a clothing line, were not cheap and, moreover, not profitable. That said, his tweet made headlines, grabbing the attention of investors and media. Some claim Kim Kardashian West bailed him out. Regardless, West’s net worth today is $145 million, while his wife, Kim Kardashian West, has a net worth of $150 million.

Kanye West photo
Getty Images | Dimitrios Kambouris

Celebrities, Entertainment, Money
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About the Author
Chelsea Davis
Chelsea is a freelance journalist based in New York City whose passion revolves around traveling the world, immersing herself in foreign cultures, and of course, eating and drinking everything delicious. She covers all things food, drink and travel and is always up for an adventure, whether that means an adrenaline-pumping excursion or trying a new cuisine. Follow her on Instagram at @cheycheyfromthebay and keep up with her latest work at www.chelseadavis.com.

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