Fame Can’t Buy Stability: 40 Celebs That Struggled With Their Finances
Contrary to popular belief, not all celebrities are rich, or at least, stay rich. Some do not manage to hold on to their money throughout their career. Whether you’re a common man or a mega-famous personality, anyone can fall into debt, or worse, if you don’t manage your finances well. In the case of celebrities, they are more susceptible to mismanagement of wealth. Although their work fluctuates, their extravagant and fancy lifestyles remain constant. After all, if you’re not making enough money but using a gold-plated bathroom, it will do more harm than good.
So, below we have listed some famous stars who started big, earned big bucks, and garnered massive fame…before mismanaging funds and falling into debt. While some managed to find their footing again, the fate of others is yet to be decided.
One of the most famous child stars turned teen stars, Lindsay Lohan is a name you must have heard of, especially if you’d been a TV binge-watcher in the early 2000s. But unfortunately, even with many popular movies under her belt and a great acting career, offers for new movies dropped due to several controversies.
When her popularity suffered, so did her finances. In 2012, it was revealed that Lindsay was in massive debt. The IRS seized control of her bank accounts, and she was accused of having numerous unpaid bills with different merchants. Since then, she hasn’t had any major acting roles and her net worth has dropped to about $1 million.
Gary Busey had starred in tons of films and was considered an emerging movie star at one time. But all that changed in 1988 when he had an almost fatal motorcycle accident. He survived but experienced major brain damage that drastically impacted his career and life.
After the incident, he couldn’t get many movies because he found memorizing lines difficult. Eventually, he also became a part of many public mishaps. He suffered from addiction and, in 2012, filed for bankruptcy protection after claiming to be in debt of about $500,000. Ironically, his net worth (as of 2021) also happens to be $500,000!
The ’90s teenage star had a lot going on for her. Though she once had a net worth of nearly $8 million, Byne’s last on-screen appearance was in a 2010 movie, Easy A. Since then, it seems like she has taken a permanent break from acting. Many speculate that it is because of her mental health issues.
However, Amanda was reported to have strong substance addiction and gained a reputation for being irregular and unreliable. Although she tried her hand at music, it never seemed to go anywhere. Thus, it’s pretty unclear what her current sources of income are, but her net worth appears to be $3 million.
Wesley Snipes is best known for his role in the Blade franchise. The first was a commercial success and did very well at the box office, prompting the creation of two sequels. His knowledge of martial arts made action sequences easy for him, and he also seemed to have a natural comedic talent.
In 2006 the actor suffered financially when he was charged with six counts of not filing tax returns and not paying any taxes from 1999 to 2004. He was found guilty of three charges of the former, and was given a 3-year sentence in prison. His current net worth stands at $10 million.
Janice Dickinson, known as the “world’s first supermodel,” was a household name back in the day but is sure to be met with blank stares in present times. She was not only a model but also an author and a talent agent. The peak of her success was during the ’70s and ’80s.
But soon after that, she started having immense financial troubles. Janice reportedly got addicted to cosmetic surgeries that affected her mental health and plunged her into debt. She ended up owing $1 million to the bank and was accused of having numerous unpaid bills related to her surgeries.
Best known for her iconic hit song, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” there has never been a doubt that Cyndi Lauper is talented. However, there are times when talent is not enough, and Cyndi is a prime example of that. Despite her songs becoming popular, she filed for bankruptcy in 1981.
Her financial struggles were mainly due to the breakup of the group she had been a part of for 4 years, the Blue Angel. Their 1980 album failed to create any ripples, which caused her financial situation to worsen. Luckily, Lauper managed to get back on her feet and has a current net worth of $30 million.
Mike Tyson had a great career as a boxer, but a series of bad decisions affected his financial status and lowered his net worth. He spent money on extravagant additions to his home, including three Bengal tigers and a golden bathtub. The lavish parties he threw had a big hand in draining his income.
His constant spending is probably what drove him to declare bankruptcy in 2003. Even when not in his prime, Tyson seemed unable to curtail his spending habit and cut down on his lavish lifestyle. However, his current net worth stands at $3 million; it is probably due to his successful cannabis business.
As one of the three faces of the Harry Potter franchise, Rupert Grint is no stranger to fame. Soon after the series ended, he became picky about his roles. As such, he wasn’t as rich or successful as his co-stars. Poor planning by his father and accountant led to a request in 2016 to pay $1.3 million in taxes.
Rupert gave the go-ahead to his accountant to change his accounting date so that over 20 months of income be taxed in 2009-2010. Thus, he didn’t pay taxes for 8 months in 2010-2011, when he made money for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One and was in a higher tax bracket.
Lisa Marie Presley
As the only heir of the king of rock and roll, Lisa Marie Presley had a lot going on for her. All her father’s millions and estates were transferred to her name after Elvis Presley’s death. But when Lisa appointed Barry Siegel to manage the estate, everything started falling apart.
She said Siegel’s risky investments and misleading finance reports led to the debt she currently struggles with. Lisa even sued him in 2018 for the same, but he countersued, claiming the cause of her debt was excessive spending and a lavish lifestyle outside her means. Whatever the reason, as of 2018, Presley’s debt was $16 million.
In the 2000s, Shad Gregory Moss, aka Bow Wow, was an emerging talent. He enjoyed immense fame at the beginning of his rapping career and even tried his hand at acting with excellent results. However, his success and finances seemed to taper off as he grew older, courtesy of carelessness in managing money and an overindulgent lifestyle.
On two separate occasions, he bought cars that were way out of his budget and defaulted on payments. Even after being taken to court for the first car, he didn’t pay back the amount quickly, leading to an increase in the money owed. These debts played a huge role in bringing down his fortune.
Pamela Anderson is best known for her role in Baywatch. The top-rated ’90s show was the peak of her popularity, and starring in the show helped her make a lot of money and fame. But her financial troubles started in 2000 when she bought an expensive property in Malibu and tore it down for renovations.
The project cost her a hefty amount of money, and her lavish lifestyle only worsened her situation. Pamela also had trouble with unpaid taxes over $493,000 that she had allegedly failed to pay. With that being said, she has now managed to find her footing, and her financial situation has significantly improved in 2022.
The Real Housewives of New Jersey star was a prominent TV personality. Aside from appearing on the silver screen, she had written 3 cookbooks and co-written a memoir. Teresa even created a line of bellini cocktails, Fabellini. She also had a brief stint as a co-owner of a pizzeria, which unfortunately shut down in 2018.
Shockingly, Teresa and her ex-husband Joe Guidice were convicted of committing bankruptcy, mail, and wire fraud while failing to pay off taxes. Thus, she spent 11 months in jail and was released in early 2019. Thereafter, Teresa proceeded to pay off all the debts she owed, consuming her cash reserves and reducing her net worth drastically.
Starting his career by doing odd jobs at a radio station, Larry King caught a break when one of the on-air announcers suddenly quit. This first live moment was pivotal in making him one of the best news broadcasters in the world. But a chain of events eventually led him to declare bankruptcy in 1978.
One of his millionaire friends accused Larry of grand larceny and got him arrested. Although the charges were dropped later, it caused him to lose all his fame and high-end broadcasting gigs. However, soon after filing for bankruptcy, he was rehired for a radio talk show that got his career back on the right track.
Joey Lawrence enjoyed a great acting career when he started, starring in multiple popular shows like Melissa and Joey, Brotherly Love, and Blossom. His role in Blossom made him a star, with a growing fanbase of teenage girls swooning over him. He also made music with his brothers and released some songs, although acting always took precedence.
But he filed for bankruptcy in 2017 after his most recent show was canceled, resulting in a massive drop in his earnings. The situation got so bad that he had to sell off his clothing and furniture online to make ends meet. And divorcing his wife of 15 years put more pressure on his finances.
Courtney Love is a renowned musician and actress married to Kurt Cobain, the late Nirvana singer. She inherited a large amount of revenue after his death, aside from the money she had already earned through her career. Unfortunately, she did not manage to hold on to that fortune for long.
Her money started dwindling partly due to the bad financial decisions made by her managers and her struggle with addictive substances. By the time she was sober enough to turn it all around, a lot of her cash had already been spent. She ended up owing thousands of dollars to the IRS for unpaid taxes over a few years.
Not only is Nicolas Cage an Oscar-winning actor, but he also starred in a large number of popular films and created a name for himself. He is also considered one of the highest-paid actors of all time, which makes his financial troubles even more surprising. However, the fact is that Nicolas Cage had expensive tastes.
He is rumored to have spent a lot of cash on frivolous purchases like private islands and exotic snakes. Nicholas ended up owing the IRS $6.3 million in property tax. As he fell deeper into debt, Cage began taking up whatever roles he was offered to ease his monetary needs.
Robert Matthew Van Winkle, better known as Vanilla Ice, is a rapper who made quite a big name for himself in the ’90s, despite being a controversial figure. Although his musical career can’t be termed a success, he had a few hits; the biggest one being “Ice Ice Baby.” He also spent some time working on reality TV.
However, the news of his financial troubles surfaced during his divorce. Vanilla Ice allegedly refused to pay his ex-wife Laura the money she owed. Instead, he maintained this stance until a judge intervened and made him process the payment. He still has a pretty high net worth but hasn’t been enjoying the fame he used to have.
Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt were a celebrity couple. They were a major part of the reality show The Hills and gained most of their income from it. They also filmed a spectacular wedding for the show and became a highlight. Unfortunately, the cash flow stopped at the show’s end, and so did Heidi’s TV career.
With poor financial decisions and lavish spending, the couple spent all the money they had collected. From the original $10 million, only about $300,000 was salvaged. Even the business they had tried to set up suffered severely, and the cash inflow was reduced massively.
Curtis James Jackson III
Curtis Jackson, whose stage name is 50 Cent, is no stranger to fame. He had a traumatic childhood and overcame many hurdles to become the person we know today. Besides rapping, he also had a lot of other ambitious projects, such as founding two production companies and signing up for multiple endorsements.
But even these business opportunities couldn’t save him from declaring bankruptcy in 2015. 50 Cent was sued for $7 million for leaking an explicit video of a woman without her consent and faced other lawsuits that drained all his money. Nevertheless, he managed to get back on his feet and is currently debt-free.
Sinbad, the comedian, never made it to the big leagues. However, it wasn’t due to the lack of his efforts. He did have talent, and his sitcom A Different Man earned him a million dollars, but his career never progressed further.
He filed for bankruptcy twice and is reportedly $11 million in debt. Sinbad rejected the claims that his expensive lifestyle triggered this acute financial problem. Instead, he blamed it on business expenses, including the salaries of many employees of his company.
Suzanne Somers is best known for her acting career but is also a renowned author and singer. Her breakout role was in the hit show Three’s Company, and she shot to fame after starring in it. However, she was fired immediately after upon demanding better wages. Thus, along with her career, her finances suffered, too.
She sued the show’s producers for $2 million, stating that her reputation suffered because of the incident. Although Somers managed to win $30,000 of the total amount, it wasn’t as high as she expected. In addition, the hefty legal fees she had to pay drained her finances badly.
Don Johnson, known for his role in Miami Vice, is a golden globe winner and an incredibly talented actor. However, his story isn’t as simple as it seems. He courted many controversies since 2002 when he was accused of money laundering, an accusation he vehemently denied.
He is also rumored to have been in danger of losing his Colorado house but managed to collect the money needed to save it. Whatever financial troubles he might have had, he is back to being more successful than ever in recent years. With his frequent appearances on TV shows, Johnson’s current net worth stands at $50 million.
Drake Bell was the co-star of one of Nickelodeon’s hit shows, Drake and Josh. Although he did well as an actor, he chose to focus on his music career instead. While it is hard to classify it as a hit or flop, it definitely did not bring him enough money.
He filed for bankruptcy in 2014, and his house was foreclosed. He claimed over $600,000 in debt and apparently owed much of that to the IRS. It is unclear what exactly led to such a precarious financial situation for Drake, but a lavish lifestyle could be one of the reasons.
Johnny Depp is a household name, mainly because of his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Recently, the charges of domestic violence, filed by his ex-wife, brought him back to the spotlight. The high-profile case not only affected his career but also took a toll on his finances.
Depp also claimed that his money was allegedly mismanaged by his business managers, further worsening his economic status. Although he sued them, his bank balance and fame kept dropping. However, with the resolution of the defamation trial earlier this year and the jury voting in his favor, Depp has now got a chance to improve his finances.
After releasing her hit album, Blue, LeAnn Rimes shot to fame at the tender age of 13. But since then, her life has been aggravated with problems. Soon after the album launch, her parents had a messy divorce. She had to file a lawsuit against her father for stealing some of her earnings.
Eventually, LeAnn barely had a hit song. Also, her husband, Eddie Cibrian, didn’t get many film offers. The couple seemed to be struggling financially and, in 2016, sold their home at a lower price since they urgently needed the money. Recently, they made appearances in some Hallmark movies, trying to regain their financial position.
Talking about country music without mentioning Willie Nelson is impossible. He contributed a lot to the music genre and is one of the famous country artists of the ’90s. However, he hasn’t had a smooth financial experience. Nelson’s tax history was shaky at best, and in 1990, it was revealed that he owed the IRS $32 million.
He managed to reduce the amount to $16.7 million, but still, he couldn’t pay it. Hence, many of his properties, including gold records, a grand piano, and his Texas ranch, were seized. However, in 1993, Nelson finally agreed with the government to settle his debt in the next three years.
Toni Braxton’s singing talent is a force to be reckoned with. Her first hit was the single “Love Shoulda Brought You Home,” and it only went up from there. Her musical career has been going on for over 20 years. But even her Grammy award couldn’t save her from bankruptcy, which she applied for twice (1998 and 2010).
Many unfortunate incidents contributed to her financial instability. The music industry isn’t always kind to the artists, so they get a minute amount of their success in cash. Toni faced the same issue and received only $2000 of her royalties. In addition, she suffered from many acute health problems, which led to hefty medical bills.
Aaron Carter had his moment of fame when he released a cover of the song “Crush on You” as an opening act for a Backstreet Boys concert. It was his first big break. Eventually, he made pretty good money, even more than his Backstreet Boys brother, Nick Carter.
But his finances took a hit when he turned 18, and his parents finally gave him control of his accounts. He realized that his parents’ mismanagement of finances led him to lose millions. His exorbitant lifestyle, including the money spent on rehab and hefty legal fees, plunged him into heavy debt.
Chris Tucker is well-known for his role in three Rush Hour films. These movies earned him not only fame but also money, making him one of the highest-paid actors in the world. After starring in these movies, he seemed to take a break from acting.
It’s been reported that Tucker couldn’t handle his finances well. He owed $14 million to the IRS since 2002. Although Tucker agreed to pay it for 10 years, he delayed the payment by 1112 days. Eventually, He sold out a couple of his properties to settle his debt. As of 2022, his net worth is only $5 million.
Kim Basinger was a talented model before she became an actor and managed to add another feather to her cap. She starred in many movies before slowing down her acting career in the last couple of years because of her anxiety. She was last seen in the Fifty Shades trilogy.
Her money troubles started when she spent $20 million on the town of Braselton in Georgia. Basinger had intended to turn it into a tourist destination, but the investment didn’t work out. The town’s value fell to $1 million in only 4 years. Consequently, she had to sell it while declaring bankruptcy.
One of The Real Housewives of Orange County, Bellino worked on other career prospects outside of her time on the show. For example, designing and news reporting. But she reportedly was in trouble with unpaid taxes and had a $22,000 tax bill that she owed to the IRS from 2017.
She was in danger of having her assets seized to pay off the debt but somehow managed to settle it in full. However, due to her divorce from Jim Bellino, Alexis is supposed to receive a monthly settlement of $16,000, helping her stabilize her finances to some extent.
Wayne Newton had a decent acting and singing career. Popularly known as Mr. Las Vegas, he had more than 50 movies and even more TV shows on the list. Also, he had several hit songs that propelled him to fame and made him a household name. However, his finances were never too strong, like his resume!
By 1992, Newton filed for bankruptcy. He was reportedly in debt of $20 million. He had tax problems, too, and owed $1.8 million to the IRS in 2005. Falling to repay a $3.35 million debt, one of his 40-acres properties, Casa de Shenandoah, was seized to make up for the money and eventually turned into a public attraction.
Lena Headey was famous since the beginning of her acting career, but she became a household name after bagging the role of Cersei Lannister on the popular show, Game of Thrones. Fortunately, the role could not have come at a better time, as it turned out to be her ticket out of debt.
Her divorce was brutal and left her almost broke. She struggled hard to raise her son and had less than $5 to her name. Headey even sold her house and did some reality TV shows to earn a living. Thankfully, when she got the role in Game of Thrones, she slowly started gaining her footing and increased her net worth.
Jon and Kate Gosselin
Jon and Kate Gosselin were the couple who had an entire reality show based on their life and children called Jon and Kate Plus 8. The show was successful, earning them a pretty good amount, with a whopping $750,000 per episode.
However, after their marriage broke because of Jon’s affair with their nanny, the show fell apart, along with their steady source of income. They engaged in a messy divorce battle, which ate a lot of funds. Kate had to sell the Pennsylvania house she got in the divorce to manage her finances.
Jersey Shore was the show that made Mike Sorrentino, aka “The Situation,” famous. Although he enjoyed quite a bit of success on the show, his lifestyle made him vulnerable to losing his career and finances. He spent a lot of cash on drinks, parties, and illicit substances.
His past caught up with him, and he ended up spending time in prison due to tax evasion charges of up to $8.9 million. However, after the end of his sentence, he seems to have a better idea of his finances. Mike has now cut down on extravagant purchases and focused on starting a family with his wife.
Mischa Barton, known for playing Marissa Cooper in the popular teen show, The O.C., did not seem to have a steady acting career after her stint on the show ended. She starred in some no-name films, and her popularity suffered immensely.
Her financial situation isn’t great either, and she was involved in 2 separate lawsuits. One was against her mom for allegedly stealing some money she received from playing the character, Marissa. In contrast, the other lawsuit was filed against her for suddenly backing out of a project, causing a massive loss to the screenwriter.
While still a freshman, Lauryn Hill knew she wanted to become a singer. Consequently, she founded a band with two other members, which was later called the Fugees. Although the group disbanded after a few years, Lauryn continued to put out songs, even earning a Grammy nomination.
But in 2012, Lauryn was accused of committing tax fraud on 3 separate occasions, from 2005 through 2007. The famous singer pleaded guilty to $554,000 of unpaid taxes but did not make any effort to pay it back to the government. Thus, she had to serve a 3-month prison sentence in 2013.
Abby Lee Miller
Abby Lee Miller can be considered one of the most recognized faces of the show Dance Moms. However, she has had a career filled with ups and downs. She enjoyed a lot of success but also suffered big health problems and setbacks in her career.
Besides, her financial condition isn’t stable either. She was sued in 2015 for hiding her earnings of more than $775,000 to avoid paying taxes on them. Consequently, she had to serve some time in prison. Moreover, she fought off cancer through expensive treatments that indeed saved her life but took a drastic toll on her funds.
Tyga had a pretty successful career as a rapper but seemed to live outside his means and sabotaged his own finances. He was in a relationship with Kylie Jenner and was rumored to borrow money from her constantly, an allegation she denied.
Tyga has always had trouble with his finances. He attempted to buy houses and cars without sufficient cash, leading to them being repossessed. Also, an LA jeweler sued him for not paying $180,000 for a luxurious watch. In 2016, things got more challenging for him as he struggled to pay rent and had a legal battle with his landlord.
If you were a ’90s teen, your life must have been incomplete without the music of TLC. Although the female singing band earned immense fame, none of its members had had enough financial success. The famous Tionne T-Boz Watkins of TLC was always low on her finances and had to file for bankruptcy several times in her career.
It’s true that her finances were mismanaged, but her extravagant lifestyle was also responsible for her poor economic condition. Besides, her major health issues added to her debts. Thus, T-Boz had to mortgage many of her valuable belongings, including her house, jewelry, and clothing. Her current net worth stands at only $600 thousand.