Don’t let money rule your world


Celebrities may seem to have it all, but they sure know how to blow it all too. From owning pet tigers and helicopters to buying an entire town here are two handfuls of stars that managed to foolishly squander their earnings, and then some.They may not have had to figure out how to get a government grant, but some had to seriously alter their lifestyles while others actually died penniless.

Willie Nelson



Willie Nelson owed the IRS $16.7 million in 1990. In order to get on the road again, he released the album The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories. All proceeds went to paying off his debt to the government.

Mike Tyson



Tyson had earned over $300 million during his career as a boxer but jewelry, mansions, cars, limousines, cellphones, parties, clothing, motorcycles and Siberian tigers eventually caught up to him. In 2003, when no more green came out of the debit machine, he had to file for bankruptcy, thanks to his colourful variety of debts including $13.4 million to the IRS and a $9 million divorce settlement to his ex-wife, Monica Turner. From 1995 to 1997, he spent $9 million in legal fees, $230,000 on pagers and cellphones, and $410,000 on a birthday party. In June 2002, he owed $8,100 to care for his tigers and $65,000 for limos.

Kim Basinger



Basinger was one of Hollywood’s highest earners in the late ’80s, so she decided to buy the entire town of Braselton, Georgia for $20 million. Braselton didn’t turn out to be the fruitful tourist attraction she had been hoping for and in 1993 she made yet another foolish move and was sued for backing out of a film she had agreed to star in- a controversial movie called Boxing Helena about a surgeon who kidnaps and amputates the limbs of the woman he is obsessed with- just four weeks before shooting. She was forced to sell Braselton for just $1 million. Kim was forced to declare herself bankrupt in order to settle the $8 million claim. A costly divorce from first husband, make-up artist Ron Britton, didn’t help matters much either.

Marvin Gaye



Besieged by tax problems and drug addictions, the Let’s Get It On singer filed for bankruptcy in 1979 and moved to Hawaii, where he lived in a bread van and began working on his album In Our Lifetime.

Jerry Lee Lewis



Goodness Gracious Great Balls Of Fire! In 1975 the IRS took most the Rock n’ Roll legend’s personal property for back taxes. In 1988 he filed for bankruptcy with three million dollars of debts and no assets.

Burt Reynolds



Reynolds declared bankruptcy in 1996 with $6.6 million in assets and $11.2 million in debts. He owned mansions, a helicopter, and a lavish Florida ranch. Bad investments in two restaurant chains in the late 80s and 90’s as well as a falling-off in his box-office clout were major factors attributing to the Bandit’s financial bust. In the end, he had to sell his trademark mustache at auction to help pay his bills. Reynolds got to keep his $2.5 million Florida estate however, a shining example of how bankruptcy proceedings go too easy on the wealthy.

MC Hammer



It seems the Hammer did have to prey just to make it today after amassing debts of $13 million and filing for bankruptcy in 1996. Some of his expenses included his modest California home – complete with two pools, cinema, tennis courts and 17-car garage. He also bought a helicopter, several racehorses, and a sound system that required 22 miles of wiring. Not to mention the solid gold chains for his four pet Rottweilers.

Hammer now juggles several careers as a rapper, TV presenter and preacher to support his family of six.

Gary Coleman



The once-beloved, highest paid TV child actor from Diff’rent Strokes filed bankruptcy in 1999 citing $72,000 in personal debts. Times were tough for Coleman and perhaps it was the financial stress that led him to punch a woman while working as a security guard. In order to dig himself out of his financial hole, he became the beneficiary of an Internet charity that auctioned off items such as his spatula, sofa, purple bowling ball, size 4 1/2 bowling shoes and his self-described yellow pinstriped “pimp suit”. He even held a contest in which the grand prize was a Christmas shopping spree — with Coleman serving as the winner’s “shopping elf.”

Judy Garland



A combination of tax debts – she owed several hundred thousand dollars to the IRS– and the demise of The Judy Garland Show, left the singer struggling financially. She died of an accidental drug overdose in 1969 at the age of 47.

Michael Jackson



On his death in June, it was reported that Michael Jackson was in $400 million worth of debt. A Neverland Ranch to maintain, the singer spent $35 million improving the property, which featured two railway lines, two helicopter pads, its own fire department, a zoo and a plethora of amusement park-style rides. Seventy-five cars, lavish gifts such as the $637,000 necklace he bought Elizabeth Taylor made for some of his outrageous expenses. He was also reported as having spent $25,600 a month on ‘medical needs’.

69 Responses to “From Riches To Rags: 10 Celebrities Who Went Broke”

  1. Paul Says:

    “Reynolds got to keep his $2.5 million Florida estate however, a shining example of how bankruptcy proceedings go too easy on the wealthy.”

    A shining example of lazy writing. Most people declaring bankruptcy in Florida get to keep their homes, wealthy or not. Try Google, or Bing.
    Otherwise great article. I ate in Po Folks one time, I don’t want to talk about it.

  2. Auntie Paul Says:

    Bankruptcy laws are meant to prevent people from having their home taken away, but not meant to allow someone to keep their palace. The FL statute applied correctly should have only allowed Reynolds to keep or get a reasonable home. I think the author is correct in expressing a little disgust. A little less, might I add, than you have expressed over her “error”.

  3. The Jamhole » Blog Archive » Ep 327: Financial Bust Says:

    […] From riches to rags, how famous people ended up losing pretty much everything. I’ll give you a three letter hint… I R S. Are all of the accountants in Hollywood taken? I just don’t get it. […]

  4. Allan Says:

    From what I’ve heard, Gary Coleman lost a lot of money defending himself in court from a series of women claiming he was the father of her child. The fact that paterntity tests always proved they were lying didn’t stop him from losing a heap of cash in legal fees.

  5. andre trindade Says:

    a maior pobreza que eles possam estar , nao é nada comparado a minha pobreza!

  6. » From riches to Rags - 10 Celebrities who went Broke Says:

    […] Mike Tyson, Kim Basinger en Marvin Gaye. De rest, inclusief Michael Jackson, zie je door naar From riches to Rags - 10 Celebrities who went Broke te […]

  7. gft Says:

    Florida law states that your prime residence is protected from
    debtors in a bankruptcy. Your prime residence, even if it’s a
    mansion or palace. It can be the Taj Mahal, if it’s in Florida
    it’s off limits.

  8. 30 Pictures Of Little Kids Crying And More Awesome Guy Links | A Blog For Guys - Movie News, Gadgets, Cars, Girls, Videos, Advice, Sports, Guy Stuff Says:

    […] Top 10 Celebrities Who Went Broke […]

  9. victoria Says:

    Bueno, al fin y al cabo ellos lo ganaron lo disfrutaron y en algunos casos pueden volver aempezar, el resto ni siquiera lo soñamos.

  10. lola Says:

    kin basinguer una buena actric

  11. Jesam Says:

    Por supuesto, la fama es efímera. A Kim Basinger le duró nueve semanas y media, y después una cita a ciegas con Bruce Willis.

  12. pinkblings Says:

    They are so stupid lol Seriously, wtf! It’s so embarrassing to be flashy and then broke. Good luck to them. I hope they can come back down to earth and become role models for other celebrities whom are still in la la land. The economy is spiraling down. No 1 is going to admire celebrities’ luxurious lifestyles. They’ll have haters and no fans.

  13. John Mersant Says:

    Unless you got payed, I suppose it might interest you to know the Aftonbladet, one of Sweden’s largest newspapers, just published an article that is a blatant rip-off of this. They even forgot to delete your copy on Kim Basinger.

    (I kept a screenshot, should they change it later.)


  14. WOODY3691 Says:

    It’s too bad these people didn’t plan better to avoid the embarrassment and pain of bankruptcy. The cardinal rule is to pay yourself first. It may seem that’s just what these people did but it’s not. Paying yourself first means setting aside an emergency fund and a retirement fund. Living off a small percentage of the net after taxes and business expenses for a few years would enable high earners to set aside enough for that rainy day.

    And why do all these celebs run out and invest in businesses? While some are successful, most aren’t. The more substantial the income, the more conservative the investments should be. Preserving capital, not necessarily growth should be the game plan with the really big earners. Whoever manages these people, if they are manageable at all, isn’t doing a good job.

  15. Chief Says:

    The key here, is that most of these people tried to cheat, or refused to pay taxes on their income. They were responsible for their own financial demise, even tho the trend is to blame the accountant. Look at Wesley Snipes. The other issue is that a person’s rate of income is never guaranteed for life. I agree with “Woody3691″

  16. Jim Says:

    Bottom line, An abundance of talent, does not necessarily mean an abundance of brains or even common sense.

    Look at all of the incredibly talented sports figures who make a gizillion dollars, then die broke.

    If you look at Fran Tarkenton, Sugar Ray Leonard, Michael Jordon, Joe Montana and a few others, They really stand out as the exception, rather then the rule.

    Being able to dunk a basketball or run a 4.6 second 40 does not mean you know how to balance your check book.

  17. Links of the Week January 24-28 | Says:

    […] It seems like we’d have less money problems if we just had more money, right? Not for these 10 celebrities…From Riches to Rags: 10 Celebrities Who Went Broke […]

  18. DS Says:

    Correct about the Florida law about not having your house seized to pay off debts. Perfect example being O.J. He should be on this list too.

  19. maniack Says:

    Someone wrote some unreadable writing. I guess they forgot this is the USA and besides speaking in English we also write in English. Learn How! Oh yes, any American citizen has the right to file bankruptcy. The rich get in financial trouble as well as anyone else. You are right. Some can’t manage their own finances. THE LOVE OF MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL.

  20. bigwhite Says:

    its pretty damn bad when you have millons of dollors and end up broke lol if you manage to go broke after having all that money they deserve it and everyone should laugh and spit right in there face foreal haha. shit let me just get my hands on a millon dollors ill make it last lol invest that shit ya feel me. next frank lucas or something lol before i went broke. them niggas is crazy foreal!

  21. HowthCastle Says:

    A little discussion might have been in order about HOW Gary Coleman went broke–i.e., he was a minor child who was plundered by his adult handlers.

  22. Anti Bigot Says:

    Hey maniack. I think it is you who has forgot, the internet is not the USA, it is WORLD wide web. Quit thinking so small.

    Who really cares how much celebs make or spend? I mean really? Don’t ppl have enough to worry about without this crap?

  23. Jhabril Says:

    Maybe I should move to Florida…..hmmmm……

  24. Jim Says:

    Too busy figuring out how to enjoy it, than how to manage it correctly…instead, it managed THEM!

  25. michael Says:

    Whoa, even Thomas Jefferson he had earned $20000 when he was elected president, which equals $300000 today, later on his presidency, he used most of his wages to maintain monticello, which made him a debtor.
    another cases of riches to rags.

  26. Michael Says:

    Even Thomas Jefferson were famous for declaration of independence and earned $20000 ,present day $300000, later in his presidency, he used most of his wages on maintaining Monticello, and pulunged into debt.

  27. john dorries Says:

    …if things could only be that simple. “ebony and ivory”

  28. Marie Says:

    Well let me tell you one thing, this is greed above all else, I mean with all this money, these people could have invested it in the country and helped so many people. not only that its a tax right off.

  29. Jhabril Says:

    Marie that is so TRUE!!!!

  30. cpascal Says:

    When celebrities find themselves with millions of dollars, some of them deceive themselves into believing that so much money will last forever regardless of how much of it they spend. I read somewhere once that most lottery winners spend all of their winnings within a few years. It must have been terribly frustrating for Gary Coleman to be working as a security guard knowing that he had once been a millionaire.

  31. RoadOutOfDebt Says:

    No matter how many millions you have, if you are overspending you are gonna get in big troubles!

  32. Smiling Samson « Bug Blog Says:

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  33. kayla Says:

    i never thought michael jackson would loose alot of money .

  34. nessa Says:

    Ohhh my gawd … I think people r just trying to get money from him everyone knows he owed but IDK THT MUCH!! theyre lieing 2 us.

  35. Kat Says:

    Yeah I mean idk if he would go that far

  36. James Says:

    WOoooooooooooo why does he owe this much???

  37. James Says:

    What!!! Dang he owes a crap load!!!

  38. Nessa Says:

    Wth i said he doesnt they r sayin tht just to annoy him… R.I.P michael

  39. James Says:

    Ikr wow this sucks and i think they are!! wow

  40. jim Says:

    AT Michael - #25 and 26…

    Jefferson NEVER could handle money…even when he was in Europe as an emissary, he spent lavishly on unnecessary items. He COULD NOT control his love of finery NOR his desire to SPEND.
    What happens after the White House was just a symptom of his basic problem - profligacy with $$.

  41. Livingston Byam Says:

    I can understand the need to show when you have
    Money. You thing it would never finish. Or some how you will get more,or
    More would be coming, but most of the times your so wrong. I personally
    had the experience of having some money not as much as those guys
    And I did the very same thing. And I think I learn my lesson.

    It cound happen to you!

  42. ladyxvenom Says:

    bitch. if i ever get HALF as much as these celebrities had, i PROMISE YOU i will only live in a decent apartment, CONTINUE WORKING, and never ever ever spend foolishly. EVER. how else would i get through the next great depression that’s coming up??

  43. Midknight Says:

    The accounting firm Willie Nelson hired led to his financial nightmares. When you are earning millions of dollars and the IRS doesnt get paid you can expect big problems sooner or later. That goes all the way back to Al Capone. The government couldn’t build a criminal case so they put him away on tax evasion. By the way Willie is back stronger than ever. Good for you Willie ! You gave away more money than most people will see in a lifetime.

  44. Mrs. Bernie Madoff Says:

    let me come into big bucks, im going to spend it like a drunking sailer, live for today and like it was my last, and damn tomorrow….holla……

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  46. Living a Free Life » Blog Archive » Defense, not offense, makes you wealthy Says:

    […] highly-paid entertainment stars (in sports, movies and music) flame out and declare bankruptcy? Mike Tyson, Kim Basinger and MC Hammer each made a fortune, spent a fortune, and were left with […]

  47. bankruptcy attorney baltimore Says:

    There comes a time when our misjudgments or certain decisions break our lives in terms of finances and investments. People can learn a lot from how celebrities live. We can all make things better after bankruptcy, we just need to find a better way and be guided well by those we trust.

  48. mike Says:

    michael jackson wasn’t broke.he owned beatles and was worth $600millon at the time of his death

  49. Jim Says:

    “michael jackson wasn’t broke.he owned beatles and was worth $600 millon at the time of his death”

    Wonder if that figure included outstanding obligations against his estate? In other words, was that TRUE ‘worth’.

  50. scottiedigital Says:

    Mike tyson is my hero

  51. HowthCastle Says:

    Say what you will about Mike Tyson–Human ears are not Halal (Kosher for Muslims)!

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  53. Tom Tom Says:

    The author of this post or whatever it is surely hate Michael Jackson. You need to go back and check the facts. MJ died a Millionaire and possibly a Billionaire. Seem to me so many haters want him to be a loser when he was indeed the King of Pop and the greatest entertainer that EVER lived. And that is how the history books will reflect him. You on the other hand will not even be remembered 10 or 20 years after you death and if so only by those that knew you. So hate on hater.

  54. redkid Says:

    Where are their accountants? Every major studio, record company, etc. has their own legal and accounting teams that the artists can take full advantage of for free.
    (Well, not exactly for “free”, they are working for the company and the company is certainly deducting their share first.)
    But business managers who aren’t unscrupulous do try to contact these trailer trash morons until they realize that their client is an idiot who cannot read their own mail or to busy shoving the money up their nose or too downright bi-polar crazy (Julia Phillips) to be dealt with.
    So, let em sink….

  55. bill Says:


  56. bill Says:

    Where are their accountants? Every major studio, record company, etc. has their own legal and accounting teams that the artists can take full advantage of for free.
    (Well, not exactly for “free”, they are working for the company and the company is certainly deducting their share first.)
    But business managers who aren’t unscrupulous do try to contact these trailer trash morons until they realize that their client is an idiot who cannot read their own mail or to busy shoving the money up their nose or too downright bi-polar crazy (Julia Phillips) to be dealt with.
    So, let em sink….

  57. bill Says:

    yo ppl stop posting stupid shit

  58. bill Says:

    yo yo yo

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  64. Juan Says:

    Some of the rich go broke, some die. Poor people play the lottery then die because they spent all their money on the lottery and don’t go to the doctor. Not listed is all the rich that died of drug overdoses. The poor buy beer, smoke pot, used drugs and die, not all of them of course. No jobs, no hope. They sit a wait for all their lives for something to fall out of the sky. The young and drugs the dope, that is their lives, not all of them of course. We made this world, we will someday die. Some fly in the air looking at someone else’s devastation or misery, of course not all. How much does it cost to look at someone elses misery that we have paid for.

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