Here’s a look at some celebrities with millions of fans, and millions in debt.
15 Celebrities You’d Never Guess Were in Debt
Not all celebrities have fame and fortune, some are just famous – and in a ton of debt. They came from rags to riches, then went back to rags.
Whether they’ve filed bankruptcy, ended up in court, or just can’t stop spending, celebrities mismanage their money just like everyone else. They just hide it well.
1. Michael Jackson
The King of Pop reportedly died $400 million in debt. Selling more than 61 million albums in the U.S. didn't stop the singer from borrowing, and spending, huge sums of money over his career. Numerous legal battles also contributed to his financial troubles.
Shortly before his death, Jackson announced a tour with the intention of using the proceeds to pay his way out of financial disaster. But sadly, he passed away from cardiac arrest following an overdose of the surgical anesthetic propofol administered by his physician.
2. 50 Cent
He coined the term “wanksta,” then “partied like it was his birthday” until he filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015.
The rapper was said to be anywhere between $10 million and $50 million in debt. In 2016, a federal bankruptcy court judge in Connecticut approved a plan for the founder of G-Unit to pay his debts back. He was able to get his bankruptcy discharged in February of the following year.
3. Kanye West
In 2016, the Chicago rapper tweeted that he was $53 million in personal debt for his fashion line. The tweet has since been deleted.
A month later, his wife Kim Kardashian West tweeted that she had cashed an "$80 million video game check, and transferring $53 million into a joint account," leaving Twitter users to believe she had paid off his debt.
This wasn't the first time West's debt was made public. In 2015, he told BET that he found himself $15 million in debt attempting to break into the fashion industry.
Currently Kanye's net worth is $160 million, while his wife's is $175 million. When you add this power couple's wealth together, they are worth a collective $335 million.
4. Miles Teller
Not all famous people are in debt for buying tigers, luxury cars, and mansions. Believe it or not, at one point this millennial actor took out $100,000 in student loans to study acting at New York University.
Although he landed his first acting job during his senior year of college, he still couldn’t pay off his debt right away. Eventually, though, he did pay them off in full.
5. Gary Busey
Following a 45-year-long career in Hollywood, acting in more than 70 films, actor Gary Busey found himself in more debt than he was worth.
In 2012, it was reported that Busey owed between $500,000 and $1 million worth of debt, but only had $50,000 to his name. The 74-year-old actor owed money to hospitals, banks, the L.A. Waterworks District, and even a storage company. He filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy that same year.
Despite his longstanding career in Hollywood, Busey's net worth is now only $500,000.
6. Burt Reynolds
Reynolds is still worth five million dollars, but his battles with debt date back more than 20 years.
Between bad investments and a pricey divorce from actress Loni Anderson, the 1970s superstar had to deal with over $10 million in debt and decided to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1996. While testifying in a 1994 custody hearing, the South Florida native said he spent $40 million getting through his divorce.
In 2015, it was reported the former star auctioned off a gold watch gifted to him by Smokey and the Bandit co-star and former girlfriend Sally Fields. A Golden Globe award he earned for his part in the 1990s film Boogie Nights was sold off at the same auction.
7. Stephen Baldwin
Alec Baldwin's younger brother may not be as famous, but was known in the 1990s for co-starring with Pauly Shore in the films Biodome and The Usual Suspects. But that didn't keep him from filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009.
The 52-year-old actor and his wife accrued $2 million in debt. He owed $1.2 million on two mortgages, $70,000 in credit card debt, and $1 million in federal taxes.
In 2012, the actor was arrested for failing to pay taxes for three years. A judge ordered that he pay $300,000. The ruling stated that if the debt was paid in a year, the charge would be removed from his record, but he would otherwise serve five years' probation. He ended up serving the probation.
His house was foreclosed in 2017, after he failed to make a mortgage payment for six years.
8. MC Hammer
MC Hammer independently released the single "U Can't Touch This" in 1991. After the song took to the radio like wildfire, the Oakland, California native was signed to Capital Records.
That year his net worth was estimated to be $33 million. And with his then-newfound fortune he began spending lavishly. He purchased a 40,000-square-foot mansion for a million dollars, and dumped $30 million worth of upgrades to it.
Two swimming pools, gold-plated gates, two private helicopters, a private jet, and a stretch limousine were among the wildly luxurious expenses.
MC Hammer, born Stanley Kurk Burrell, reportedly employed 200 people on staff, costing him $500,000 per month. His extravagant lifestyle led him to declare bankruptcy in 1996, when he claimed $9.6 million worth of assets while owing $13.7 million in debts.
He hasn't fully bounced back, but is back in the black. In 2017, Burrell was reported to be worth $1.5 million.
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9. Charlie Sheen
This former Hollywood bad boy owes the IRS nearly $5 million. But that's not all.
In 2016, his net worth was reportedly still as high as $150 million, but he was nonetheless $12 million in debt at the time – including mortgages, legal fees, and taxes. That same year, Debt.com reported Sheen owed nearly $300,000 on an American Express card alone.
The 52-year-old was once the highest-paid actor on network TV. When he was starring on the sitcom "Two and a Half Men," he was paid $1.8 million per episode.
10. Nicolas Cage
He's won Oscars, was once paid $40 million a year, and was worth a total of $150 million. Despite that, Nicolas Cage managed to blow most of his fortune. And in 2010, he owed the IRS $14 million. He filed bankruptcy in 2009.
How did one of the highest paid actors in Tinseltown manage to drive himself so deep in debt? He once purchased a private island in the Bahamas for $3 million, and two castles: one for $10 million, the other for $2.3 million. At one point he owned 15 homes, including a $25 million waterfront home in California, a countryside estate for $15.7 million, and even a haunted mansion in New Orleans for $3.4 million.
None of the above are even his weirdest buys.
He has bought shrunken heads, a pet octopus, and he once outbid fellow thespian Leonardo DiCaprio on a 70-million-year-old dinosaur skull – which turned out to be stolen. He later needed to return the artifact to the Mongolian government.
Cage is worth about $25 million today.
11. Donald Trump
Donald Trump has never personally filed bankruptcy. However six of his casinos and hotels have gone bankrupt since 1991.
Trump put up $1 billion to fund the construction of Atlantic City's Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino in 1990. Only a year later, the casino was almost $3 billion in debt, and Trump filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to the New York Times.
Within another year, Trump filed bankruptcy on three more businesses: Trump Castle, Trump Plaza and Casino, and the Plaza Hotel. The last two racked up a whopping $800 million worth of debt. Business seemed to have calmed down for the rest of the 1990s, but midway through the 2000s Trump found himself back in bankruptcy court.
In 2004, Trump Hotels and Casinos filed for bankruptcy again. Four of his casinos had a combined debt of $1.8 billion. Not even Trump could survive the financial losses of the Great Recession. In 2009, Trump Entertainment Resorts filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Then Trump won the presidency on a promise to run the federal government like his businesses.
12. Mike Tyson
At the height of his career, Tyson earned $30 million per fight. But one of the greatest – and most controversial – boxers of all time spent money as quickly as he earned it.
Tyson raked in $400 million during the first 18 years of his boxing career, The New York Times reported in 2003. But Tyson spent it lavishly on mansions, cars, jewelry, limousines, motorcycles, clothing, and – hey, why not – a Siberian tiger. Nothing says 90s excess like owning a tiger.
"Iron Mike" filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2003. At the time, he owed more than $13.4 million to the IRS, $4 million to British tax authorities, over $300,000 in state taxes, $600,000 to seven different law firms, and nearly $2 million to former managers and trainers.
Tyson's current net worth is $3 million, roughly 10 percent of what he used to earn for one night's work.
13. Aaron Carter
You'd think earning millions before you turn 18 would set you up for an early retirement, but that never seems to be the case with child stars.
Aaron Carter, brother to Backstreet Boy Nick Carter, followed his brother's success into pop stardom. After opening for the Backstreet Boys in the fall of 1997, he released his solo debut album in December of the same year. After a slew of hits among the "Nickelodeon audience" of the late 90s and early 2000s, Carter declared bankruptcy in 2013 with $2 million of debt. At the time, he was left with only $917 in his checking account.
Today his net worth is negative $2 million.
14. David Cassidy
He once sold more than 30 million records, but wound up broke in 2015 after piling up $10 million in debt.
He owed $290,000 to Wells Fargo, $21,000 to American Express, $17,000 to Citibank, and an attorney $102,000.
Cassidy was charged with three DUIs between 2010 and 2014. His wife divorced him after his third arrest. The former Partridge Family singer passed away last year from organ failure at the age of 67. He denied having any financial issues less than a year before his death.
15. Gary Coleman
Being the highest paid TV child actor of your time won't necessarily stop you from losing your shirt one day.
Gary Coleman filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 1999 with over $72,000 worth of debt. The fact that he was once paid $64,000 a week to star on the 80s sitcom Diff'rent Strokes would make his character Arnold Jackson question "what you talkin' 'bout?"
Coleman claimed that his adoptive parents bled his fortune, which was still up to $7 million by 1990. He took his adoptive parents to court, alleging they stole $1 million from his estate. Between legal fees and health problems, Coleman died broke, or at least close to it, in 2010.
This article by Joe Pye was originally published on Debt.com.
Published by Debt.com, LLC