April 11, 2024 | Sarah Ng

These 21 Celebrities Went Bankrupt


Even The Rich Lose It All

Even the rich and famous can find themselves in financial turmoil. These celebrities had no choice but to file for bankruptcy.

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Aaron Carter

In 2013, former teen pop star Aaron Carter filed for bankruptcy, citing $2 million in debts. In his youth, his parents grossly mishandled his finances, and so much of his financial troubles stemmed from back taxes.

Though he tried to make a comeback in his career, Carter tragically passed in 2022 at the young age of 34.

Aaron Carter at the Us Weekly Hot Hollywood Style 2009 party,s_bukley, Shutterstock

Francis Ford Coppola

Francis Ford Coppola may be one of the most celebrated directors of all time, but he sure had troubles with his finances. After all, he ended up bankrupt three times. Why? Well, because of the movies, of course.

Francis Ford Coppola - 2012C2 Montréal, Flickr

He Uses His Own Money

Coppola used his own money to back the 1982 musical One From the Heart—but it performed terribly. Though Coppola has managed to get control of his debts, he still has no qualms about investing his own money into projects. For instance, Megalopolis reportedly cost him $100 million.

Francis Ford Coppola looking at side.FICG.mx, Flickr

Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson was one of the most successful boxers—a heavyweight champion. He made a lot of money and had the lifestyle to match, but in 2003, he had to face down debts of $23 million.

Mike Tyson looking at camera.Mark Mathosian, Flickr

He Made A Comeback

Though Tyson ended up filing for bankruptcy, he managed to come back from it in a big way. Not only did he land roles in Hollywood films, but he also started his own brand, Tyson 2.0.

Mike Tyson looking at side and talking.Eduardo Merille, Flickr

Abby Lee Miller

Abby Lee Miller was the face of Dance Moms as the show revolved around her dance studio in Pennsylvania. However, in 2010, she claimed to be $400,000 in the hole and filed for personal bankruptcy. But there was a snag in her plan.

Abby Lee Miller speaking with attendees - 2022Gage Skidmore, Flickr

She Hid Her Money

In 2017, federal investigators made a shocking discovery. Miller's bank accounts had concealed over $775,000. As a result, the reality tv star ended up behind bars for a short time, getting out in 2018.

What Happened To These Reality Stars When The Cameras Stopped Rolling? factsDance Moms , Lifetime Television

Cyndi Lauper

Prior to her work as a solo act, Cyndi Lauper was part of the band Blue Angels. Unfortunately, in 1980, the manager of Blue Angels sued Lauper for $80,000. She ended up going bankrupt. But there was a silver lining.

Cyndi Lauper looking at camera and talking.lucascynnogue, Flickr

She Had A Hit Album

In 1983, Lauper's album She's So Unusual became a huge hit. Thanks to its popularity, she was able to clean up her financial troubles by 1984.

Cyndi Lauper live - 2010Eyesplash, Flickr

Kim Basinger

In 1989, Kim Basinger set out a doomed venture. She purchased a good chunk of land in Braselton, Georgia, hoping to transform it into a tourist destination. She spent $20 million, but the whole idea crashed and burned. Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of her worries.

Kim Basinger at Charlie's Angels - 1976Rob Corder, Flickr

They Sued Her

In 1993, the producers of Boxing Helena sued Basinger for $8.1 million when she dropped out of the production. The actress had no choice to file for bankruptcy, but settled her situation by 1995.

Kim Basinger at Academy Awards - 1990Alan Light, Flickr

Toni Braxton

Toni Braxton has been in some deep financial trouble twice. The first time she filed for bankruptcy was in 1998. In a later interview, Braxton revealed that she had a shopping addiction at the time. But that was only the beginning.

Aaliyah FactsJamie Lamor Thompson, Shutterstock

She Had To Cancel Her Show In Vegas

Braxton's second experience with bankruptcy was because of medical reasons. She'd funded her own Vegas show, but had to cancel her performances after discovering she had microvascular angina. She reportedly had $10 million to $50 million of debt.

Toni Braxton at the Kathy Hutchins, Shutterstock

Burt Reynolds

Burt Reynolds may have been one of the biggest heartthrobs of the 1970s, but he ran into trouble in the 1990s after his turbulent divorce from Loni Anderson.

Photo of Burt Reynolds smiling and looking at back - 1970ABC Television, Wikimedia Commons

An Expensive Divorce

Apparently, Reynolds' divorce cost him a pretty penny. This, combined with his high standard of living, landed him with $11.2 million in debt.

Burt Reynolds on the red carpet for the 43rd Annual Emmy Awards, looking to the rightAlan Light, Flickr

Ongoing Struggles With Money

Two years after Reynolds filed for bankruptcy, he clawed his way out of the hole and settled his debts—but he continued to have financial troubles. The 82-year-old actor passed in 2018.

Burt Reynolds during Ron Galella, Getty Images

50 Cent

50 Cent, AKA Curtis Jackson, became one of the biggest rappers after the success of his album Get Rich or Die Tryin. Though he certainly rode the wave of wealth for a time, by 2015, 50 Cent's finances were a waving red flag.

Due to debts ranging from $10 million to $50 million, 50 Cent had to file for personal bankruptcy.

Rapper 50 Cent wearing brown hat is looking at side - 2005Everett Collection, Shutterstock

Meat Loaf

Michael Aday, AKA Meat Loaf, had his moment in the sun during the 1970s. However, by 1983, the rock musician was in trouble.

Michael Aday (Meatloaf) - 2009christopher simon, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

He Sold It All

For years, Meat Loaf grappled with mismanaged finances, as well as lawsuits. In order to settle his debts, he made a drastic decision—and sold the rights to his music.

Meatloaf Q&A At Galaxycon Raleigh - 2019Super Festivals, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Alex Jones

In December 2022, Alex Jones, the founder of Infowars had debts worth $1.5 billion. He filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Jones had got himself into trouble when he began calling the Sandy Hook Elementary School incident a "hoax." 

Alex Jones DC Press Conference -  2018Jaredlholt, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

He Couldn't Pay Them Back

As a consequence, Jones had to pay hundreds of millions in damages to the families of the children who lost their lives. When the star filed for bankruptcy, the families' attorneys called him "cowardly."

Alex Jones speaks at a press conference in Washington - 2018Jaredlholt, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Todd Chrisley

Known for Chrisley Knows Best, Todd Chrisley claimed to be $49.4 million in debt—and filed for bankruptcy. Only two years later, his family starred in a reality show where their luxurious lives were front and center.

Portrait of Todd ChrisleyKathy Hutchins, Shutterstock

He Paid The Price

In 2019, Chrisley found himself in hot water. He and his wife were charged with wire fraud charges, tax evasion, and bank fraud. Their sentence? The court sentenced Chrisley to 12 years behind bars, and his wife to seven years. 

Todd And Savannah Chrisley - 2014RumorFix, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Teresa And Joe Giudice

In 2009, Terese and Joe Giudice filed for bankruptcy. This just so happened to the same year that they made an appearance on The Real Housewives of New Jersey. According to the couple, they had debts of almost $11 million.

Teresa Giudice - 2018Sam Aronov, Shutterstock

They Divorced

In 2013, the couple ended up facing charges for concealing their income, as well as cheating their lenders. Both Terese and Joe ended up behind bars for a time and eventually divorced.

Teresa Giudice signs copies of her book, - Turning the Tables - 2016Debby Wong, Shutterstock

Lil' Kim

In 2018, Kimberly Jones, best known as "Lil' Kim" was $4 million in debt and decided to declare bankruptcy so that she wouldn't have to give up her mansion.

Lil Kim on stage - 2006Everett Collection, Shutterstock

She Landed The Right Gig

Lil' Kim went on to star in the reality tv series Girls Cruise in 2019, which helped her out financially. As a result, she asked to have her case dismissed.

Lil Kim at Bryant Park for FASHION WEEK, Sept 13-17, 2004Everett Collection, Shutterstock

Sonja Morgan

Sonja Morgan starred in the The Real Housewives of New York City, but following her divorce, she filed for bankruptcy. Though she had assets worth $13.5 million, she was reportedly $19.8 million in debt. 

In 2015, she settled her debts.

Sonja Morgan attends the 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards - 2019lev radin, Shutterstock

Janice Dickinson

In her heyday, Janice Dickinson was a successful supermodel, but in 2013, she had to file for bankruptcy. Unfortunately, she'd landed herself in debt to a number plastic surgeons, as well as the IRS—about $1 million.

Janice Dickinson - 2013Kathy Hutchins, Shutterstock

Wayne Newton

Wayne Newton may have known for his Las Vegas performances, but he's also known for her awful finances. In 1992, his investments backfired, landing him in debts that exceeded $20 million. But that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Wayne Newton in concert - 2012JamesPFisherIII, CC-BY-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

He Abandoned A Jet

Down the road, Newton abandoned a private jet at an airport storage facility and faced huge fines. He also owed back taxes.

Wayne Newton, Las Vegas, 2019Mark Mathosian, Flickr

La Toya Jackson

Michael Jackson's older sister, La Toya Jackson went bankrupt in 1995. You see, Jackson had a six-month contract with the Moulin Rouge but left before her contract ended. The club sued her for $650,000.

La Toya Jackson at the 19th Annual Race To Erase MS - 2012Tinseltown, Shutterstock

Mick Fleetwood

In 1984, Mick Fleetwood's drinking and addictions caught up with him. He ended up $3.7 million in debt, and filed for bankruptcy. Luckily, the musician managed to gain sobriety by the 1990s.

Mick Fleetwood on stage - 2020Raph_PH, Flickr

Teri Polo

The actress Teri Polo may be best known for her role in the show The Fosters and the comedy Meet the Parents. However, in 2014, she ended up bankrupt. Though she had $809,000 in debt, she claimed her assets were below $50,000.

Portrait of Teri PoloKathy Hutchins, Shutterstock

Gary Coleman

Gary Coleman may have been a beloved child star on the show Diff'rent Strokes—but he came to a tragic end.

Gary Coleman at the 6th annual TV Land Awards - 2008Joe Seer, Shutterstock

He Met A Sad End

For years he faced legal battles and medical bills, which drove his finances into the ground. By 1999, he was bankrupt. Sadly, Coleman passed away in 2010 at the young age of 42. He'd fallen down the stairs and suffered a brain hemorrhage.

GARY COLEMAN smiling at camera - 2003Featureflash Photo Agency, Shutterstock


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