10 Bankrupt Lifestyles of the (Rich) & Famous

RealClear Contributor


Making millions of dollars or having celebrity status doesn’t do much to deter bankruptcy. Sports Illustrated says that 78% of former NFL players go bankrupt within 2 years of retirement. 

How is it possible that people who have millions one day, file for bankruptcy the next? Real Housewife Teresa Giudice filed for bankruptcy years before her 39-count federal indictment.

With these 10 famous celebrity millionaires (and even billionaires) who have gone broke, perhaps we can all take a lesson about the fickle nature of fame and fortune.

10. Toni Braxton

Toni Braxton filed bankruptcy for the 2nd time in 2010, and it wasn't settled until 3 years later in 2013. 

TMZ says it cost her $150,000 to wipe the slate clean, after claiming debts as high as $50 MILLION!


9. Mike Tyson

Boxer Mike Tyson earned more than $400 million during his infamous career. 

His luxurious lifestyle, filled with mansions, wild animals, and crazy spending habits, combined with shady management and $9 million divorce, forced him to file for bankruptcy in 2003 claiming debts of $27 million!

8. Pamela Anderson

After owing over $800,000 to the construction company that built her wildly extravagant Malibu mansion, and being hit with a $1.7 million tax bill, Playboy model Pam Anderson officially went bankrupt in 2009. 

She was forced to sell her mansion, and then reportedly moved into a trailer park with her 2 sons by rocker Tommy Lee.

7. Warren Sapp

Former NFL player & Hall of Famer Warren Sapp filed for bankruptcy in 2012. 

According to his court documents, he owed more than $6.7 million to creditors, but only had $6.45 million in assets, which included $6,500 in Air Jordans and a $1,200 lion-skin rug. Wow!

6. Donald Trump

Donald Trump and his different corporate entities have filed for bankruptcy 4 times: in 1991, 1992, 2004, and 2009. Technically these were corporate bankruptcies, and not personal bankruptcy.  

Hence, when his casino fell into about a billion dollars in debt, the corporation filed for Chapter 11. Trump currently has an estimated fortune greater than $2.7 billion, as he keeps his personal money separate from his business money.

5. Lindsay Lohan

LiLo has had constant legal issues, along with drug and alcohol issues, so it's not surprising she was near bankrupt a few years ago.

She never formally filed bankruptcy, but she resorted to accepting money from Charlie Sheen, who loaned Lohan $100,000 to avoid defaulting on paying back taxes in 2012. Meanwhile, the IRS has seized her bank accounts.

4. Billy Joel

The Piano Man has unfortunately gone bankrupt 3 different times, and has lost about $90 million, thanks to his ex brother-in-law, who horribly mismanaged his money.

3. Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York

Sarah, Duchess of York, Ferguson formerly married to Prince Andrew, the 2nd son of Queen Elizabeth II. 

The redheaded royal had run up debts to the tune of $8 million by 2011. That same year, she was also caught on video in a “cash for access” scandal– she was filmed accepting money from a reporter, in exchange for an intro to Prince Andrew. 

Sarah was so broke, she was living in a room in her ex-husband’s house. How embarrassing!

2. Michael Vick

NFL quarterback Michael Vick was one of the highest paid athletes in 2005, earning around $37.5 million according to Forbes.

He reportedly supported a 30+ person entourage, among other extravagances. After the crazy dog-fighting scandal, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback went bankrupt in prison in 2008.

Vick certainly made a financial comeback though, first with the Philadelphia Eagles and now with the New York Jets.

1. Abraham Lincoln

American President Abraham Lincoln once didn't have a single cent to spare, even though his face is now on the penny.

Lincoln tried many occupations as a young man before politics, including buying a general store in New Salem, Illinois, in 1832. 

According to CNN, 

"Lincoln and his partner started buying out other stores As the store's debts mounted, Lincoln sold his share, but when his partner died, the future President became liable for $1,000 in back payments. 

Lincoln didn't have modern bankruptcy laws to protect him, so when his creditors took him to court, he lost his 2 remaining assets: a horse and some surveying gear."

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