Celebrity millionaires who blew it all

Among the once mega-rich celebrities, musicians and sports stars who have filed for bankruptcy are Kim Basinger, Burt Reynolds, Toni Braxton, TLC, and Mike Tyson. While some musicians file bankruptcy in an attempt to get out of terrible music contracts, a lavish lifestyle and overspending are more often to blame. Everyone knows about MC Hammer’s flash-in-the-pan wealth, which was soon squandered and replaced by a love of God, family, and a likeable appearance on VH1’s Surreal Life.

Other amazing examples of nouveau rags to riches to rags and ridiculous lifestyles include both current and past celebrities like Mark Twain, Mozart, and Michael Jackson. Authors of this piece on overspending warn that people need to learn to manage their wealth and not blow it like a kid in a candy store:

  • Michael Jackson may earn a lot of money, but he spends a lot too! “He purchased ten artificial intelligence Sony AIBO dog robots at $5,000 each, and it takes over $200,000 a month just to maintain and run his home. The King of Pop dazzled the American populace when he shopped away $6 million within a matter of hours on the TV documentary Living with Michael Jackson.”
  • Actress Kim Basinger paid $20 million to buy the town of Braselton, Georgia in 1989. When Basinger filed for bankruptcy just four years later, she was forced to sell the town.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was deep in debt when he died at 35. He was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave.
  • Boxer Mike Tyson earned over $300 million in his professional career. He lost it all, spending the money on cars, jewels, and more. He eventually filed for bankruptcy. (More here.)
  • Actor Burt Reynolds filed for bankruptcy in 1996 with more than $8 million in debt.
  • Author Mark Twain “made a substantial amount of money through his writing, but he squandered much of it in bad investments, mostly in new inventions. These included a bed clamp for infants, a new type of steam engine, and the kaolatype (or collotype: a machine designed to engrave printing plates).” Twain was a sucker for get rich quick schemes.
  • Even the rich need to save for the future. “Over a 20-month period between 1996 and 1997 Elton John spent $205,774 on flowers alone — and that’s just a smidgen of his spending. In 1999, the BBC reported that John asked a merchant bank to help him borrow $40 million to pay off his debts. A year later he admitted running up debts more than $2 million a month. His spending sprees were reported to include purchases of classic cars, clothing and jewelry… ‘I’m not a nest-egg person,’ said John when defense lawyers questioned his spending habits. ‘I’m a single man. I like spending my money.’“
  • Soccer star George Best went bankrupt in 1982. How’d he lose his money? “I spent a lot of money on booze, birds, and fast cars. The rest I just squandered.”

When people make a lot of money, they’re able to spend a lot of money. The problem isn’t a single extravagant purchase, but a lavish lifestyle in which they spend more than they earn. Even the rich are subject to the fundamental law of wealth. Real wealth isn’t about earning money — it’s about keeping money.

There are also countless stories of average people who make it big through the lottery (or other windfall), and then squander their wealth in years or months. These people often come from backgrounds that provide no training for handling large fortunes. (Last fall, I wrote about tips for managing a windfall successfully.)

It’s easy to fantasize about Christian Louboutin pumps, a walk-in closet full of designer clothing, an infinity pool, and a mansion with views of the ocean. Enormous wealth may make life easier, more spacious and better accessorized, but it can also be fleeting when people don’t plan for the future. And I thought that winning the lottery would solve all my problems.

Thanks to Digg members for helping me find this story.

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13 Responses to “Celebrity millionaires who blew it all”

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  1. Mr. T says:

    Being a celeb does not translate to being intelligent. It does relate to having an inflated ego and not having the state of mind to reel the ego in. If you don’t have it, don’t spend it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Mozart never made any money on his music. He was poor his entire life.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The reason that all these celebrities today try so hard to be in the media and in the public eye for what ever it takes, such Paris Hilton with her sex tapes and police bust ups, Britney Spears with her horrifying and bizarre behavior or Angelina Jolie with her adultery and adoption scandals. Is because they know that their small talents would not be enough for a long carrier and so they create all this scandals because they obsessed with being the center of attention to feed their big egos and also gives them opportunities to squeeze more money from the public (form magazine sales, interviews and photo shoots etc.) so they can keep up with their large spending habit. A perfect example is Madonna, she has created a long carrier not because of her great talents and amazing voice, BECAUSE SHE HAS NO TALENTS WHAT SO EVER, but because she has a habit on creating this reticules scandals that draw attention to herself that makes her even more popular. Most of the celebrities out there have no talent , no education yet they are far more richer then a doctor or a scientist which is ridicules. I do not mind them getting a lot of many from making movies or music because thats how the business works and if particularly they are very gifted actors or artist but not because who sells the most gossip magazines. I used to like Britney Spears in her early days when she concentrated on being a good performer and an artist but now its amazing to thing that after everything she did in front of the media just to create attention to herself she is expecting the public to hand her enough money in order to bay her next crappy CD. AND THE SILLY THING IS THAT MOST OF PEOPLE OUT THERE WILL.

  4. Yar says:

    I would never put Britney, Paris and Angelina in the same category. Way too much generalization in the last “anonymous” post, gavin.

  5. Action says:

    I’m not sure that’s Gavin. Too many spelling errors.

  6. Busy Body says:

    Jolie and Brad Pitt combined are both not more than $120 million and if they are not careful, they are going to squander all this money. Jolie is not worth much and part of the reason she hooked Pitt was for financial support in case she runs out of funds which is likely since she is getting older and she still does not earn much per movie.

    Where is Mr Pitt and Ms Jolie? I am starting to worry that we will miss their split if we blink.

  7. gavin says:

    “Yar”, before you give yourself another self-congratulatory pat on the back, thinking that in your endless stream of cleverness, you ferreted out the identification of anonymous as me, Gavin, better luck next time. I think its time for you to buy a new thinking cap. I always sign my posts.

    “Action” is the million dollar winner for the day.

  8. this is disgusting says:

    That is disgusting. Then so many do fucking charities for the earth and whatnot, and look at what consumers and wastoids their gluttonous asses are. Fucking nasty.

  9. yes it's true. says:

    Gavin, it’s the same idiotic twaddle you spew by the yard. None of us have so much time as to read three pages of the usual stalking speculations you love to indulge in.

    So what, you have a twin. big deal.

  10. madmax says:

    i actually agree with the “anonymous” post, we spent too much time and attention to all this celebrities and not enough to the issues that matter the most to the world.

  11. dd says:

    this celebrities have too much power and money and no common sense. i think its weird and stupid that there are some people out there that put this celebrities in a petestool and idolize them as gods.

  12. Oriel says:

    Madmax, why are you reading a gossip column then?

    What’s a petestool?

  13. madmax says:

    What up with the attitude Oriel? The reason I wrote the column above was because I was suggesting that in todays society there are too much attention and importance on celebrities and not enough on the real world. Do not get me wrong, I TOO ENJOY SOME CELEBRITY GOSSIP ONCE IN A WHILE when I am bored but this is what it is just entertainment to amuse us for 20 minutes when reading a gossip magazine. However celebrities seem to have taken over, now when some one like Britney spears or Brandangeline do or say something its front cover news not just in gossip magazines but it serious news papers and news channels. THERE ARE BILLION PEOPLE ON THIS EARTH WHO CARES WHAT SOME SILLY CELEBRITIES DID.