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Celebrities Who Went Bankrupt

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 25 minute read

A-list actors can make as much as $20 million for one film, which is 20 times more than the typical bachelor’s degree holder makes in a lifetime. In certain cases, top sportsmen might earn $40 million or more a year from endorsements and appearance fees alone. These celebrities’ profits can skyrocket once they factor in money made through endorsements and other businesses.

Michael Jordan, former Chicago Bulls star and current Charlotte Bobcats majority owner, was valued at roughly $1.6 billion in 2022 despite earning “only” $93 million in compensation throughout his NBA career. Dr. Dre, a hip-hop tycoon, sold his Beats by Dre headphones business to Apple for $700 million and reportedly still earns tens of millions annually in royalties from the tech giant.

But just because you have a lot of cash on hand doesn’t mean you can keep it all to yourself. Many famous people have gone bankrupt because they trusted the wrong people or made poor choices.

Rich Celebrities Who Became Bankrupt or Lost Their Money

A staggering proportion of famous people go bankrupt when work dries up or when the repercussions of bad choices from the past catch up with them, despite having made millions during successful sporting, performing, or business careers.

Throughout their careers, these famous people made tens of millions of dollars. Some people have filed for bankruptcy twice, either personally or professionally. Others have frittered away an enormous fortune because of overwhelming tax liabilities. 

Some people were able to financially and professionally recover. In fact, one of them became president of the United States. These anecdotes should serve as warnings if you find yourself in a similar financial bind or are adjusting to a sudden and unexpected windfall. If you’re open to the teachings, both can help you better manage your money.

1. Johnny Depp

The Net Worth of the Company is $150 Million (Celebrity Net Worth), Johnny Depp began his acting career in the ’80s. Some of his biggest hits, such as the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series, have earned him as much as $20 million each. His filmography has raked in over $3 billion in box office earnings.

Johnny Depp was on the verge of bankruptcy as his fame waned and his lavish spending habits caught up with him. Although he never formally filed for bankruptcy, he is now back on his feet financially. 

Nonetheless, he barely avoided financial collapse, and his journey from affluence to the brink of oblivion provides lessons that can be useful even for those who will never become famous.

How and When Johnny Depp Lost His Money

In 2017, Depp’s lawsuit against his longtime business managers Joel and Robert Mandel for fraud and other charges confirmed the actor was having financial difficulties. They gave him an ultimatum in 2016 his money was almost gone, and he had to sell his cherished French estate and other precious possessions or face financial catastrophe. 

Though it would be an exaggeration to suggest that Depp took no active role in managing his own finances, even he was taken aback to learn that he had spent $650 million since retaining business managers in the year 2000.

In his case, Depp claimed the Mandels had mismanaged Depp’s riches and kept far too much of it for themselves claims they denied. They responded with a countersuit claiming he was unwilling to change his selfish, dangerous, and irresponsible lifestyle.

There was some validity to their argument. In addition to his large fine wine collection, Depp’s extensive assets included 14 homes, a 156-foot yacht, many smaller boats, dozens of automobiles, and enough memorabilia to fill several storage lockers. 

It is estimated that in the middle of the 2010s, at the height of his spending, he went through roughly $4 million per month to pay for a 40-person staff, private jet trips, and more wine.

The Post-Downfall Activities of Johnny Depp

As an actor, Johnny Depp earned about $300 million in pay and profit share from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film series, which helped him avoid bankruptcy. Modern classics like “Alice in Wonderland” also helped.

Depp, in contrast to many other performers, who struggle with out-of-control spending and substance use concerns, has never had a lengthy period of inactivity, and his residual income has always been sufficient. His wealth has recovered to nine figures recently, however, it is still only a small fraction of what it was.

Off-screen, though, Depp’s notoriety remained undiminished. Depp and his ex-wife, fellow star Amber Heard, engaged in a vicious court struggle that resulted in an even more vicious trial created for tabloids. 

The jury awarded Depp $10 million and ordered Heard to pay Depp $2 million, so financially, Depp came out ahead. However, it remains to be seen whether the scandal would hurt his career and image. It has been alleged that Heard filed for bankruptcy to protect herself financially from the verdict.

What Johnny Depp’s Financial Problems Teach Us

Johnny Depp has worked very hard to achieve his status as a Hollywood heavyweight. Similar good fortune struck him. Amazing good fortune, indeed. He didn’t ruin his finances or his life entirely, either. Many successful celebrities don’t.

For the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, which has raked in hundreds of millions of dollars for Depp over the years and maintained eye-popping levels of consumption, Depp’s agent negotiated a phenomenally advantageous contract.

Everyone may learn something from his story, and that is the value of standing up for oneself in pay and contract talks. Depp was crucial to the success of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film series; could you picture anyone else in the role of Captain Jack Sparrow? He was compensated fairly, and that’s to his credit.

2. Donald Trump

The current net worth of $3 billion (Forbes), Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States, first gained notoriety as a bombastic New York real estate tycoon with an unusual haircut, high-profile love escapades, and a flair for self-promotion.

The present he received allowed him to overlook some serious obstacles in his professional life. Six different Trump-owned companies filed for bankruptcy protection between 1991 and 2009.

Trump’s father, Fred Trump, was a prosperous New York City builder and landlord, and he now runs the family business. His father amassed a fortune in the outlying boroughs of New York City, where he constructed and managed both single-family houses and apartment buildings.

Younger Trump focused on more spectacular endeavors, such as Manhattan skyscrapers, Atlantic City casinos, and Florida resorts. Over time, he built a media empire that included branded hotels, casinos, golf courses, mansions, and houses. 

And he also ran a series of seemingly unrelated businesses, including Trump Steaks, Trump Water, Trump Vodka, and the doomed Trump Shuttle regional airline. Trump’s later business endeavors consisted largely of low-risk licensing arrangements in which he commanded astronomical sums to affix his name to enterprises sponsored by third parties. 

The 2000s were a time when Trump was heavily involved in high-profile media projects like “The Apprentice,” “Celebrity Apprentice,” and the Miss Universe pageant.

How and when Donald Trump filed for bankruptcy is described.

During the 1990s and 2000s, six Trump-owned companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Trump Taj Mahal and its parent company, Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts, were two of the five businesses in the gambling industry. 

The majority happened during or after the severe housing market declines of the early 1990s and the middle to late 2000s. If Trump’s lifestyle suffered any blows, it was undoubtedly after his first bankruptcy filing in 1991. 

Trump took out a lot of expensive loans to build the Trump Taj Mahal. More than $3 billion in losses had accumulated in the first year of operation, with Trump personally responsible for $900 million of those losses. As part of the compromise, Trump had to unload Trump Shuttle and his private yacht.

Following Trump’s first bankruptcy, the figures involved in his subsequent bankruptcies were as staggering. As an illustration, in 2004 Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors due to more than $1.8 billion in debt.

However, Trump’s personal money and way of life weren’t significantly impacted by these bankruptcies. Mostly because Trump didn’t put his own money into the loans that funded the faltering endeavors. 

Trump’s pursuit of low-risk licensing contracts in his later years also reduces the likelihood that his businesses would experience significant financial difficulties in the future.

The Post-Bankruptcy Activities of Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s last bankruptcy gave him a newfound zeal for the limelight. He toyed with a run for president in 2011 but ultimately decided not to pursue the Republican nomination. This time, however, he’s running for president. Trump won the popular vote and was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States on January 20, 2017.

Trump likely fulfilled his campaign promise to donate his full presidential salary to several government agencies, though the specifics remain unclear. Forbes estimates that over his four years as president, he generated about $2.4 billion in cash flow for his business, making the $1.6 million he earned in salary seem like pocket change.

Despite being a magnet for political operatives and international dignitaries hoping to win favor with Trump, the Trump International Hotel lost over $70 million between 2016 and 2020. Trump, however, stood to make approximately $100 million off the hotel’s $375 million sale in 2022.

The Trump administration canceled the FBI’s long-planned relocation out of its outdated headquarters across the street from Trump’s hotel, so avoiding the construction of a hotel that would have competed with Trump International.

A global pandemic and widespread social unrest in key U.S. cities ensured that former Vice President Joe Biden would defeat Trump in the 2020 presidential election. He used unfounded accusations of massive election fraud to become the first sitting U.S. president to actively oppose a peaceful transfer of power following an electoral defeat.

The certification of the election results was delayed by several hours on January 6, 2021, due to Trump’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to modify the election results, which ended in a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of his supporters.

Not only does it appear that wealthy Trump campaign donors provided substantial financial support to the insurrection’s organizers, but it’s also possible that Trump himself benefited from the uprising. 

And had the coup succeeded, Trump would have kept the legal protections of the presidency, putting him in a better position to fight a potentially costly fraud lawsuit by the New York State attorney general and possible election-related criminal prosecution by the district attorney of Fulton County, Georgia.

Trump, while facing potential legal consequences, continues to work in the family real estate firm and pursue other commercial interests. After being banned indefinitely from Twitter, Trump created Truth Social as an alternative microblogging platform. 

The company’s IPO in 2021 was met with enthusiasm, but sales have been lackluster, and an SEC inquiry might lead to even more legal and financial difficulties for Trump. In addition, he is still able to make a living by making speeches all throughout the country.

What Donald Trump’s Bankruptcy Teaches Us

Trump will leave behind a convoluted legacy, to put it mildly. In the greater framework of his presidency and its aftermath, his bankruptcies are almost irrelevant. However, Trump’s business history demonstrates an important point regarding bankruptcy law in the United States it can provide a way out of financial difficulty for business owners. 

When times got rough, Trump was able to keep his economic empire afloat by filing for bankruptcy and reorganizing at least a portion of his wealth. Trump’s wealth and extravagant lifestyle have been unaffected by his repeated brushes with insolvency, with the exception of the 1991 bankruptcy. It’s unclear whether his reputation was unaffected.

3. Mike Tyson

A net worth of $3,000,000 (Wealthy Gorilla), Iron Mike Tyson, now considered one of the greatest boxers of all time, first gained widespread attention as a promising young fighter in the early 1980s. 

He became the youngest boxer to ever win the WBC Heavyweight Champion title just four months after turning 20. In a time when boxing is becoming more cautious, his 26 knockout victories out of 28 are remarkable.

The New York Times reported in 2003 that Tyson had made roughly $400 million during the first 18 years of his boxing career. But even if you gave Tyson a million dollars, it wouldn’t have helped.

When he was not boxing, he was involved in a number of legal disputes, including a sexual assault conviction that sent him to prison for three years. Despite his early success in the ring, “The Bite Fight” in 1997—dubbed so because he bit Evander Holyfield so hard that he knocked out a part of the latter’s ear—is what he is most renowned for.

As of 2003, Tyson had filed for bankruptcy protection on his own behalf. Since then, he’s been working hard to repair his image.

How and when Mike Tyson Declared Bankruptcy has Occurred

At the height of his career, Tyson was earning $30 million every bout, but he was spending as much as quickly. His extravagant purchases of jewels, homes, vehicles and even Siberian tigers were chronicled in The New York Times in 2003. He filed for bankruptcy in 2003 after accruing $27 million in debt, including $173,000 for a gold necklace he purchased in December 2002.

After paying $17.4 million in taxes to the United States and the United Kingdom, Tyson had to pay $9 million to his ex-wife Monica Turner in a divorce settlement. He also owed millions to a number of lawyers, producers, and limousine companies.

The divorce settlement he paid for was funded in large part by the sale of his Connecticut estate and two lavish residences in Las Vegas.

Even as he filed for bankruptcy protection, Tyson was seeking $100 million in damages from boxing promoter Don King, whom he accused of defrauding him of millions of dollars. He paid $14 million to settle with King in 2004, which reduced but did not eliminate his debts. 

After liquidating most of his material possessions and reserving a sizable portion of his future profits to pay off his creditors, Tyson emerged from bankruptcy.

The Post-Bankruptcy Activities of Mike Tyson

After escaping from bankruptcy, Tyson continued boxing for several more years, most notably in a comeback tour in 2006 with a veteran boxer who was in much worse form than he was. Once again, he fought in the ring for a series of exhibition battles in 2020 and 2021.

Tyson also looked for sponsorship deals as a means of bringing in some cash. Despite his criminal past and boorish image, he was able to find some success. After retiring from boxing, Tyson tried his hand at acting and music. 

He had a lengthy appearance in the successful comedy “The Hangover” in 2009 and starred in a Spike Lee–produced one-man show that toured 36 cities and concluded in an HBO special.

After a string of arrests—including for DUI and assaulting a reporter at Los Angeles International Airport—Tyson turned to sobriety and found peace in his private life. His best-selling book “Undisputed Truth” was published in 2013, and he recorded background vocals for Madonna on one of her songs the following year.

What Mike Tyson’s Bankruptcy Teach Us

When Tyson was a kid, New York City was on the verge of bankruptcy, and he was raised in the worst neighborhoods. About two years after he was born, his father left the family. During his formative years, he lived in constant fear of, and at times experienced, homelessness. 

When he was 16, his mother passed away from cancer, leaving him with only his boxing trainer and mentor for guidance. He got out of the ghetto because of his determination and athletic ability.

It is not surprising that Tyson, who endured a traumatic upbringing, now battles formidable demons from his past. 

His life serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of becoming famous at an early age when one is still immature and might not be equipped to deal with the responsibilities of stardom. In a positive turn of events, Tyson’s quiet post-bankruptcy years lend credence to the idea that anyone can make amends.

4. Michael Vick

Amount of Money: $16 Million (Celebrity Net Worth), Michael Vick, a gifted NFL quarterback, is widely recognized for the horrific dogfighting controversy that temporarily derailed his career and permanently stained his name. After being sentenced to 21 months in prison for dogfighting in 2007, Vick declared bankruptcy the following year.

Vick’s past accomplishments were noteworthy. He made history in 2001 when he was taken first overall in the NFL Draft, becoming the first Black quarterback to do so. He helped the Atlanta Falcons to the postseason twice and to three Pro Bowl selections. Then everything started to fall apart.

When and how Michael Vick filed for bankruptcy is described.

Vick’s economic demise may be traced back to three main factors. To begin with, he had poor financial management and squandered his early career earnings. During his prime, he reportedly earned about $40 million annually, an astonishing sum even for a top NFL quarterback.

About 30 of Vick’s relatives and friends benefited from his assistance, and some of them were treated very generously. When it was his younger brother’s birthday, he always got a brand-new car.

In addition, Vick lost $1.6 million on a bet with a business partner who spent the money on luxury vehicles and paid himself an inflated salary. In addition, for five years, Vick operated a high-tech and blatant interstate dogfighting ring from his Virginia home. 

Vick’s legal problems were the real reason for his financial hardships, not dog fighting. His ability to make a living suffered after his conviction.

Finally, while Vick was racking up victories on the field, his first agent was aggressively pursuing a $45 million lawsuit over a contract dispute that occurred in 2001. Shortly before Vick’s 2008 bankruptcy filing, the parties reached a settlement for $4.5 million.

If the agent hadn’t insisted on being paid in full right now, Vick may have been able to keep his business afloat. It so happened that in 2008, Vick filed for bankruptcy, claiming he had less than $50 million in assets and as much as $50 million in debts. 

In the ensuing proceedings, Vick lost most of his material possessions, and the Atlanta Falcons compounded his loss by recouping around 20% of his $37 million signing bonus.

The Post-Bankruptcy Activities of Michael Vick

After Vick’s prison time and subsequent house arrest, the Falcons waived him, and it was uncertain whether he would ever play in the NFL again. Eventually, he found a home with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he serves as Donovan McNabb’s backup.

When the Eagles dealt McNabb and his replacement was injured in 2010, Vick took over as starting quarterback. The Eagles finished the season 10-6 and advanced to the postseason, so it may be considered a success. Vick inked a 6-year, $100 million contract with $40 million guaranteed the year after.

Injuries plagued Vick all of 2011, causing a decline in his play. In 2012, he was demoted from starting quarterback, then returned to the position momentarily in 2013, only to have it taken away again due to injuries before he was moved to the New York Jets in 2014. 

Although he only participated in a handful of games for the Jets that year, he still made $5 million. He signed with the Steelers in 2015 and retired after the 2016 campaign. His career came full circle in June 2017 when the Atlanta Falcons, his first team, held a retirement ceremony for him at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

What Michael Vick’s Bankruptcy Teach Us

Vick wasted tens of millions of dollars in potential profits due to some shockingly bad decisions he made as a young man. He had a hard time refusing requests for help from loved ones who needed financial assistance or a favor. 

There was a lack of due diligence in his evaluation of the company and investment options. He wasted a lot of his wealth during the years that should have been his most productive financially.

Vick’s criminal behavior severely impacted his ability to support himself financially for a long period of time. While his temporary social isolation allowed him to focus on rebuilding his life and reputation, it made his economic recovery that much more challenging.

But it was encouraging to see Vick bounce back from his ordeal. He apologized profusely and was given another chance to continue playing the sport he adored. Despite the ethical stain that still follows him around, his reputation has improved. 

He is not exactly flush with cash these days, but he is not exactly penniless either. In 2014, Vick reportedly made over $100 million during his career. It’s impossible to determine how much more money he would have made over the course of his career if the dogfighting incident hadn’t happened. 

Vick’s story serves as a cautionary tale to show that financial hardships are not necessarily insurmountable if the underlying causes are addressed.

5. Curt Schilling

The Net Worth of a Person: $1 Million (Celebrity Net Worth), Curt Schilling, a veteran pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, pitched with a sprained ankle during Game 7 of the 2004 World Series, helping the Sox win the championship and break an 86-year “curse.” After a few years of seemingly unchallenged success, he retired.

No, it wasn’t. Even after leaving baseball, Schilling didn’t slowly spend down his riches. He also defrauded Rhode Island out of $75 million, getting him in deep legal difficulty. Schilling, who had been a gamer for many years, started a small game creation company in 2006 and became more involved after he retired in 2009. 

A business called 38 Studios (after Schilling’s jersey number) has declared its intention to create a massively multiplayer online role-playing game similar to World of Warcraft. In 2010, during Comic-Con, a condensed version of the game, dubbed Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was released.

When and how Curt Schilling filed for bankruptcy is described.

The fact that a renowned New England sports figure was at the helm of 38 Studios made the company’s lofty goals easier to accept. The financially strapped state of Rhode Island granted 38 Studios a $75 million economic development loan in 2010. 

The loan was based on the company’s assurance that it would finish the planned game within two years and create 450 employment in the relatively small state. Even in ideal conditions, the time frame of two years to create a game that might compete with World of Warcraft is ambitious. It was an impossible goal for a young, inexperienced development firm to achieve.

It was clear that 38 Studios would not be able to deliver on time within a year. Kingdoms sales plummeted, the company stopped paying its employees, sent out mass layoff notices through email, and ultimately declared bankruptcy.

An immediate backlash ensued. Despite being a vocal critic of wasteful government expenditure, Schilling was booed when it was revealed that he had accepted and frittered away millions in public handouts. Litigation over the purchase lasted for years, with Rhode Island ultimately recovering slightly more than half of its initial investment.

The state of Rhode Island and Wells Fargo, its principal financial intermediary, has been accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of deceiving investors on the bonds sold to Schilling’s company.

Schilling was lucky to avoid jail time and insolvency, but the damage to his professional and financial image was extensive. The Toronto Star reports that after retiring with $50 million, his net worth plummeted to $1 million four years later, causing him to liquidate his most valued assets. One of the socks was stained with blood from the team’s 2004 championship run.

The Post-Bankruptcy Activities of Curt Schilling

While Schilling’s financial savvy was questioned after his time at 38 Studios, it didn’t affect his marketability as a baseball expert. Schilling, who was already an ESPN analyst, strengthened his ties to the network after his bankruptcy. 

Soon after beginning his position as an analyst for ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” in 2014, he was diagnosed with cancer and was forced to miss most of the season. By 2015, Schilling’s cancer treatments had been deemed a success, and he had returned to the ESPN staff. Unfortunately, his time here was brief. 

According to The New York Times, ESPN suspended him for the majority of 2015 after learning that he had shared a racist Twitter meme, and then permanently let him go in early 2016 after learning that he had shared a second inflammatory post.

What Curt Schilling’s Bankruptcy Teach Us

To begin with, Schilling’s story serves as a useful reminder that the skills necessary for success in sports and the skills necessary for success in business are radically different, especially when the business enterprise in question has nothing to do with sports. 

If Schilling had chosen a career path after baseball is more suited to his talents, he could have fared better. Second, how you act on social media is crucial. It took Schilling less than a year to twice cause major offense as a commentator, and the second time was the final straw that led to the end of his career. He had already seen a decline in his financial stability prior to his job loss.

6. 50 Cent

With a net worth of $40 million (Celebrity Net Worth), After emerging on the hip-hop scene in the early 2000s under the moniker 50 Cent, Curtis James Jackson III experienced meteoric success.

In addition to a Grammy and 13 Billboard Music Awards, 50 Cent’s lifetime album sales total over 30 million. He once earned more money than any other American hip-hop musician save Jay-Z.

50 Cent capitalized on his brief period of fame in the mid-2000s. Two years after the release of Getting Rich or Die Tryin in 2003, 50 Cent was a bona fide business entrepreneur with big assets in a variety of businesses.

Perhaps his best bet was an early share in Glaceau, the company that produces Vitaminwater. In 2007, when Coca-Cola purchased his company, he reportedly made $100 million, according to Forbes.

Despite the mixed results of his investment in the production business of G-Unit Films, he was eventually included in a few movies. However, his initial funding of SMS Audio was fraught with anxiety. The company’s Street by 50 headphones’ design was later accused of infringing on a copyright.

The situation then became more intriguing. There was a brief SEC insider trading inquiry into the rapper, but no charges were ever brought. Later, he collaborated with a South African precious metals mine on a weird plan to sell platinum with the 50 Cent name.

How and when 50 Cent filed for bankruptcy is explained.

After reaching a high point in the mid-2000s, both 50 Cent’s revenue and record sales have slowly fallen. The rapper spent significantly on a luxury lifestyle, complete with Rolls-Royce cars and the same Connecticut estate that Mike Tyson lost a few years previously, despite his sporadic commercial achievements, most notably his investment in Glaceau.

50 Cent’s grandpa and an ex-long-term girlfriend are just two of the many famous people who came from poor homes and now have the means to sustain a small army of friends and family members. In addition, he generously donated to important humanitarian initiatives, such as AIDS research and prevention in Africa.

Of course, 50 Cent also hurt himself. When he released a sex tape that featured the ex-girlfriend of a rival rapper, he was sued for $5 million. His second headphone endeavor, Sleek by 50, cost him more than $2 million to launch, and he was later fined more than $18 million for patent infringement.

Additionally, he has publicly declared that he lost millions in the stock market during the 2008 financial crisis, though the exact magnitude of his losses and subsequent recoveries are unclear.

50 Cent has built up over $20 million in debts and has less than $15 million in assets. To reorganize and reduce these debts, he filed for bankruptcy in 2015, and thus lost a lot of money.

Post-Bankruptcy Activities of 50 Cent

There’s no doubt that 50 Cent is doing okay financially; he’s not as wealthy as he was before he filed for bankruptcy. Since he paid off his obligations, he has been restoring his fortune through various business and media endeavors.

He also avoided losing his estate in Connecticut for a little longer, however, this had no positive effect on his wealth. He paid Tyson $5 million for the property in 2013, but in 2019 he was able to sell it for less than $3 million.

What 50 Cent’s Bankruptcy Teaches Us

The rapper’s post-fame existence followed a similar pattern: he tried to maintain his lifestyle and public image in the face of dwindling wealth, and dubious business endeavors platinum, anyone? and poor decision-making.

His journey can teach others two important lessons; Make sure you and your family will be taken care of financially when your time in the spotlight is over, and think carefully about getting involved in any shady business deals or score-settling before you do.

Additionally, there is a good chance that the Connecticut home’s purchase price comes with a heavy financial burden. Should you become independently wealthy and wish to move to the area, it would be wise to purchase the home next door instead.

7. Nicolas Cage

With a $25,000,000 net worth (Celebrity Net Worth), Some people may not know this, but Nicolas Cage is a member of the Hollywood royal family. He’s the nephew of famed filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, as well as a relative of both Sofia Coppola and Jason Schwartzman. 

He claims that he legally changed his name to “Cage” when he was a young man to prevent any perception of bias. The plan was successful, however. Cage’s success in a series of romantic comedies in the 1980s paved the way for him to transition into dramatic and action parts in the 1990s, which helped him break onto the Hollywood A-list. 

Both “Leaving Las Vegas” (1995) and “Adaptation” (2002; for which he received an Oscar nomination) were directed by him. Cage’s no-holds-barred attitude to Hollywood success brought him a fortune. In the years between 1996 and 2011, he reportedly made $150 million, as reported by FinanceBuzz. 

Blockbuster films like “Gone in 60 Seconds” and “National Treasure” each netted him $20 million at that time. Cage had amassed a considerable fortune in the early 2000s, but by 2009, he had blown through most of it on wasteful spending and was facing escalating legal difficulties, which further exacerbated his financial situation.

How and When Nicolas Cage Lost His Money

Cage started a decade-long spending binge that rivaled Mike Tyson’s in the 1990s. He is said to have spent a lot of money on a wide variety of banal and odd items, including:

  • Several supercars, including a rare Ferrari and the deposed Shah of Iran’s vintage Lamborghini
  • Rare jewelry
  • A shark
  • A crocodile
  • Two king cobras
  • At least one dinosaur skull
  • A collection of shrunken pygmy heads
  • A private jet
  • A pyramid tombstone in a New Orleans cemetery

Cage started a decade-long spending binge that rivaled Mike Tyson’s in the 1990s. He is said to have spent a lot of money on a wide variety of banal and odd items, including:

  • A 26-acre Rhode Island estate, which at the time was the most expensive home ever sold in the state
  • European castles 
  • A private island in the Bahamas
  • A “haunted” New Orleans mansion, purportedly the site of a string of grisly murders in the 1800s
  • A comic-strewn Southern California mansion described by the Los Angeles Times as a “frat house bordello”

In 2009, the IRS placed a tax lien on Cage’s New Orleans property for millions of dollars in outstanding taxes dating to the early 2000s. In the fall of that year, Cage’s eldest son’s mother filed a lawsuit against him, demanding $13 million and the return of her house, which was in Cage’s name at the time.

Business manager Samuel Levin, who Cage had previously sued for fraud and carelessness, filed a countersuit against Cage. Both lawsuits included multimillion-dollar sums.

Cage’s California house went into foreclosure in the end, but he got the final laugh when it didn’t sell at auction, possibly due to its questionable design.

As a result of his financial woes, he was forced to sell off many of his rare and pricey goods and even let go of a smaller property in Nevada that he had owned for some time. More like an involuntary downsizing than bankruptcy.

The Post-Downfall Activities of Nicolas Cage

The only way Nicolas Cage knew how to put his financial life back together was to work extremely hard. Between 2009 and 2016, he had roles in almost a dozen films, ranging from critical darlings like “The Croods” to critically derided B pictures like “Drive Angry.” Although Cage was an Academy Award winner, he still had to do certain jobs that may have been beneath him.

The alternative investments Cage made did, in fact, yield a profit. In 2011, he made over $2 million from the sale of a rare comic book, about 20 times what he spent on it in 1997.

How Nicolas Cage’s financial struggles Can Teach Us

Nicolas Cage learned the hard way that it doesn’t matter how much money you make or how excellent your resume is; you should never spend more than you have. That’s especially the case if, like Cage, you blow through your wealth on things like flashy automobiles, exotic pets, expensive jewelry, and ostentatious furnishings.

Those with more complex financial situations still have to pay their taxes, even though the chance of an audit is low for those in the middle-income range. You still need to be aware of the dangers of underpayment or nonpayment of taxes, regardless of how much money you make each year.

Cage’s story is tragic, but it does have a happy ending. Cage didn’t give up after nearly losing it all, nor did he take himself too seriously. His late-career success can be attributed in part to the fact that he is now able to laugh at his own financial ineptitude.

Other A-Listers Who Fell Into Financial Difficulties

Our website’s servers would crash if we posted a complete list of famous people who afterward became bankrupt. There has been financial deceit going on for centuries, if not millennia.

However, there have been a few celebrities in recent and not-so-recent history who are particularly notable for their monetary irresponsibility.

8. Wesley Snipes

There was a brief period in the 1990s during which you couldn’t go anywhere near a movie theater without seeing Wesley Snipes’ name and, in some cases, his image on the marquee. The action hero’s sarcastic smile and witty one-liners couldn’t mask his years of terrible financial choices, though.

Snipes earned millions per year between 2001 and 2006, but he failed to pay the IRS almost as much in federal income taxes as he owed. The inevitable result was a three-year prison term and about $10 million in fines.

9. Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was a musical icon, but he didn’t appear to be struggling financially when his turbulent life ended in 2009. In retrospect, it’s obvious that even with tens of millions of records sold and innumerable sold-out events, it wouldn’t have been possible to live the luxurious lifestyle that included legal difficulties and questionable investments. 

For the last decade of his life, Jackson was unable to tour due to issues with his mental health, severely limiting his earnings potential. Though he avoided filing for bankruptcy, he might not have had a choice if he had continued to live.

10. Floyd Mayweather

Floyd Mayweather’s lifetime earnings of nearly $1 billion far outpaced those of his fellow boxing legend, Mike Tyson. In 2020, though, Mayweather had to repeatedly dispel claims that he had spent his entire fortune.

Strangely, he decided to charge $1,500 for a private video conversation, which is peanuts for a multi-multimillionaire, fueling rumors that he was in over his head financially. The widely panned bout with YouTuber Logan Paul in 2022 also attracted attention.

11. Mark Twain

The bankruptcy did exist throughout Mark Twain’s time period. Twain, born Samuel Longhorne Clemens, was enormously prolific and financially successful, yet he was terrible at handling his money, making him somewhat of a Nicolas Cage of the 19th-century literary world.

Bad bets on unlikely technologies and business ventures that never materialized were a major cause of Twain’s financial woes. He blew through what would have been millions of dollars today on defective typesetting equipment and a floundering publishing company.

Prior to filing for bankruptcy in the mid-1890s, he sold the family’s Connecticut home for a fraction of what he had originally invested in it. 

Even though he’d married into the coal baroness’s wealth, he still worked hard to make ends meet. There was a silver lining to Twain’s financial woes, though: they kept him writing. After filing for bankruptcy, he was finally able to publish his best work.

Bottom Line

If a famous person who makes hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of their career can declare bankruptcy, then any regular person who appreciates their movies or music can do the same.

Some of the famous people on this list were able to fix their financial problems and redeem themselves in the public eye. One of them was even elected president of the United States.

Their story demonstrates that it is possible to start over after experiencing a setback. Though these comebacks didn’t happen overnight, they took years to develop. You may learn from Warren Buffett, the renowned thrifty multibillionaire businessman who still resides in the comfortable but not opulent Omaha home he purchased in 1958.

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