Table of Contents
Although it might seem like famous people have everything they could ever want, not every icon is great with their finances. Some celebrities have had to declare bankruptcy amidst irrational spending and financial strain.
If you’re interested in learning more about some of the most well-known celebrities who went bankrupt, you’re in the right place. Take a seat and get comfortable as we discuss a few famous faces who had to declare bankruptcy for various reasons.
1. Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi Lauper is one of our celebrities who went bankrupt. She was in the band Blue Angels before her successful solo career, managed by Steve Massarsky, who sued Lauper for $80,000.
The singer was able to pull out of her bankruptcy in 1984 after the success of her 1983 album She’s So Unusual.
2. Larry King
Late talk show host Larry King filed for bankruptcy in 1978, one of the lowest financial points in his career, thanks to horse racing and a gambling addiction. In the same year, he became the central figure in his iconic show that ran for 25 years.
3. Tom Petty
Tom Petty declared bankruptcy in 1979 – but not in the way you might expect. As a legal decision, Petty financed his album and declared bankruptcy to escape the record label MCA. He negotiated a better contract with them after leaving, signing back on for a better deal.
Related: How Did Tom Petty Die?
Sinbad, the iconic comedian, became one of the worst tax debtors in California back in 2009. He had to sell his massive mansion home to cover his astonishing $2.5 million owed in taxes.
5. Toni Braxton
Singer Toni Braxton filed for bankruptcy twice: once in 1998 and again in 2010, with claims ranging from $10 million to $50 million. A spending addiction led to the first, while the second arose when her diagnosis of microvascular angina forced her to cancel her self-funded show in Las Vegas.
6. Gary Busey
Actor Gary Busey is another on the long list of celebrities who went bankrupt, filing in 2012 with a little under a million in debt. He managed to push out of bankruptcy in the same year but is currently under further charges for allegations of sexual offenses and alleged misconduct with fans in 2022.
7. Francis Ford Coppola
Famous director Francis Ford Coppola might have directed The Godfather, but that doesn’t make him immune to money issues. Coppola has declared bankruptcy three times, with most of his financial trouble stemming from his flop of the movie One From the Heart.
8. Walt Disney
In 1920, Walt Disney filed for bankruptcy after his biggest financial backer went bankrupt. Luckily, he could take out a loan from his family in 1923 to bring his new business to life, ultimately culminating in the Disney we know today.
Related: 10 Best Songs From Disney Movies
9. Lil’ Kim
To avoid losing access to her mansion in New Jersey, Lil’ Kim filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, reporting that she owed $4 million in 2018. An appearance on the show Girls’ Cruise saved her possessions in 2019.
Related: 25 Rappers Who Came From Nothing
10. Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye is a legend in the music world, but even he went through a time of financial woes. In 1976, he owed his ex-wife more than $600,000 in back alimony and had no choice but to file for bankruptcy.
Luckily for Gaye, six years later, he sold one of the biggest records of his life with “Sexual Healing” and made a big financial recovery.
Related: 30 Best 70s Songs: A Shocking List
11. Stan Lee
During the dot-com meltdown of the 2000s, Stan Lee Media and Stan Lee ran out of operating capital. They had to close down operations in 2000 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after issues with a close review of the company’s stock transactions.
12. Aaron Carter
The late singer Aaron Carter is another of the long list of celebrities who went bankrupt, filing for personal bankruptcy and claiming around $3 million in debt. Allegedly, most of the owed money came from back taxes from when his parents controlled his money as a teenager.
Unfortunately, Carter wasn’t able to build back his career before passing away at 34.
13. Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson is one of the most recognizable faces in heavyweight boxing, but his fame didn’t rescue the athlete from bankruptcy of $23 million in 2003. Mismanagement of his funds, such as spending millions on jewelry and failing to pay taxes, stripped him of his earned income.
14. Mark Twain
American author Mark Twain filed for bankruptcy in 1894 after he invested in a publishing house for his novels, and the deal fell through. He eventually overcame his woes through the creation of literature classics like Following the Equator and Pudd’nhead Wilson.
15. David Crosby
Singer David Crosby filed for bankruptcy for the first time in 1985 after very public knowledge of his use of drugs and possession of weapons. In 2021, he sold his various publishing and music rights to pay off his home amid financial strain.
16. Kim Basinger
Actress Kim Basinger spent $20 million investing in most of Braselton, Georgia, to make it into a tourist town – and it failed. She also pulled out of the film Boxing Helena in 1993 and lost $8.1 million after being sued by producers. Both projects led to a filing of bankruptcy and dismissal in 1995.
17. 50 Cent
The album Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ made 50 Cent wealthy and famous, but it eventually led him to become one of many celebrities who went bankrupt. In 2015, 50 Cent filed for personal bankruptcy between $10 million to $50 million. In 2016, a $23 million payout pulled the rapper from his financial debt.
18. Drake Bell
Singer and actor Drake Bell, best known for his lead role in Nickelodeon’s Drake and Josh, filed in 2014 for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In legal court documents, he declared more than $2 million in debt.
19. Wayne Newton
Wayne Newton is one of the most iconic Las Vegas performers, and hit time in the spotlight has brought attention to his financial struggles. He filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1992 after owing $20 million in poor investments and later abandoned a private jet in a storage facility and owed back taxes.
20. Burt Reynolds
Actor Burt Reynolds’s bankruptcy spiraled began when he divorced Loni Anderson in 1996. Between the split and his tendency to spend extravagantly, he filed for bankruptcy with $11.2 million in debt. Reynolds pushed out of bankruptcy in 1998 but continued to fight financial woes for the rest of his life.
21. Meat Loaf
Singer Meat Loaf is another on our list of celebrities who went bankrupt. He conquered the music scene in the 70s before falling off a bit in the 1980s. He had to sell the rights to his music after filing for personal bankruptcy due to former manager lawsuits and poor management of his finances.
22. MC Hammer
Last on our list of celebrities who went bankrupt is rapper MC Hammer. Even though he is one of the most well-known rappers, his status did not make him the best with money. He filed for bankruptcy in 1996, listing $1 million in assets and more than $10 million in debt.
You May Also Enjoy: