Just because they’re famous doesn’t mean they’re smart with their money. Here are 10 celebs who went broke.
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.
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 he had to file for bankruptcy, thanks to a colorful 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.
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 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.
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
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.
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 ’90s, as well as a falling-off in his box-office clout, were major factors attributing to the Bandit’s financial bust.
It seems the Hammer did have to pray 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.
The once-beloved, highest paid TV child actor from Diff’rent Strokes filed bankruptcy in 1999 citing $72,000 in personal debts. 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.”
A combination of tax debts 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.
On his death in June, it was reported that Michael Jackson was in debt for $400 million. 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 and 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’.