There are some things that celebrities aren’t immune to just like regular, everyday individuals: Taxes, death, being humiliated in public, and so on. However, we everyday people find we don’t hit this particular road bump as hard as celebrities do since not EVERYONE knows how much we make for a living, and that road bump happens to be being on the receiving end of a blackmail threat. When your face is plastered all over the cover of Fortune 500, you become quite the easy mark. Young starlets know this all too well when their questionable pasts come up to haunt them when they happen to hit the jackpot of fame later on in their careers. We all make mistakes in our youths, but most of us can say that someone else doesn’t have the photo evidence of those mistakes. Celebrity men aren’t immune to this sort of scandal either, as this list of 15 celebs you didn’t know where blackmailed will tell you.
15 Bill Cosby
As the world now knows, actor/comedian Bill Cosby has been accused of physical assault and take advantage of women by a plethora of women over the past few decades. Cosby has been in and out of court for years and attempts to look for sympathy from the public by announcing he’s almost gone fully blind. While we just cringe at both him and the horrific allegations, some women have attempted to profit from it. Back in 1998, a woman named Autumn Jackson claimed to be the illegitimate product of one physical assault in particular, and demanded he pay her $40 million or she would make her story public. Cosby had actually been paying for Jackson’s education at the time in order to keep her silent, but he refused to pay her an entire $40 mill. Cosby ended up having the girl arrested.
14 Oprah Winfrey
Mogul Oprah Winfrey is one of the most recognizable faces in the entire world and thanks to that, she’s one of the world’s richest, and most powerful, women. Because of her status in the industry, she also happens to be an easy target for people looking to blackmail the former talk show host. Back in 2006, a man named Keifer Bonvillain (perfect last name for a blackmailer by the way. He sounds like a James Bond villain… almost literally) attempted to extort Winfrey for $1.5 million dollars, claiming that he had recordings of shady happenings that were going on behind the scenes at Winfrey’s production company. Bonvillian was eventually arrested, but the charges ended up being dropped. Bonvillian then turned around and sued Winfrey for a sum of $180 million for falsely accusing him of wrongdoings. So, in the end, he got a little more than $1.5 million, I’d say.
13 Cindy Crawford
This happens to be one of the more disturbing incidents of blackmail because it involves a young child. Former model Cindy Crawford has built a beautiful family with her husband Rande Gerber over the years and back in 2009, another up and coming model named Edis Kayalar attempted to profit off Crawford’s family by spinning an innocent game into something more nefarious. Kayalar had in his possession a photo of Crawford’s then 7-year old daughter gagged and tied to a chair. The photo was actually taken by a nanny of Crawford's while she and the child were playing a game of “Cops and Robbers”. Kayalar attempted to blackmail Crawford and her husband for $100,000 in order to keep the picture from leaking to the press. The couple did pay Kayalar only $1,000 for giving the photo back to the family, but when he attempted to demand more, Crawford and Gerber involved the police.
12 John Stamos
Actor John Stamos rose to fame by playing the hot, fun-loving uncle who selflessly moved in to his brother-in-law’s house to help him raise his daughters after their mother died on Full House. Back in the 1980’s when the show first premiered, it was apparently a more innocent time, because in 2009 – a crap load time later in Stamos’ career – two idiots thought it would be beneficial to attempt to extort the Hollywood hottie for six-figures. Allison Cross and Scott Sippola claimed to be in possession of some photos of Stamos letting loose and partying, which they said would “ruin his reputation” if they were leaked to the press. They demanded Stamos pay $680,000 in exchange for the pictures, but Stamos wasn’t having any of that. He instead went to the FBI and the couple was arrested after they were busted by an undercover federal agent they mistook for Stamos’ talent agent.
11 David Letterman
The blackmailing of former late night talk show host David Letterman has to be the most famous blackmailing incident on this list due to the fact that it all went down on national TV. Back in 2009, a producer of Letterman’s was arrested for attempting to extort Letterman of $2 million dollars by threatening to expose the fact that Letterman was having multiple affairs with female employees of the late show. Letterman’s lawyer handed over a fake $2 million dollar check to Joe Halderman, a producer at CBS, who attempted to cash the check and was arrested on the spot. Letterman then went on his show and exposed the affairs himself to his millions of viewers and apologized profusely, which only made him more loved (weirdly enough). Halderman ended up pleading guilty to the charges and was sentence to 6 months in jail and 5 years probation.
10 John Travolta
There are human beings who are pathetic enough to attempt to extort people more well off than them, and then there are people who are so disgusting that they don’t even qualify to be deemed human beings. In 2009, the 16-year old son of John Travolta and Kelly Preston tragically died after having a seizure while the family was on vacation together. An ambulance driver named Tarino Lightbourne who arrived on the scene then claimed that Travolta was responsible for his own son’s death and demanded $25 million dollars or he would leak that information to the press. People magazine claimed that Lightbourne was attempting to use a “refusal to transport” form in order to make Travolta pay up, believing that the form was evidence that Travolta had a hand in his son’s death. Travolta ended up dropping the charges after a mistrial was declared. As if the Travoltas hadn’t been through enough – Lightbourne's actions were just downright appalling in the worst way possible.
9 Cameron Diaz
Like I stated in the opening, some up and coming starlets tend to get tricked into doing not-so-innocent things in order to work their way up the ladder in Hollywood. It happens when a moment of desperation hits and suddenly our minds tend to shut off. This happened to be the case with actress Cameron Diaz when she was just a 21-year old rising actress. When she was working as a model, she had topless photos of her taken and those photos surfaced when Diaz hit worldwide fame. Photographer John Rutter had the photos himself and apparently was sitting on them, waiting for the day that Diaz would become a household name. He then forged the actress’ signature on a form that claimed he could use the photos as he pleased. He went to Diaz first and offered to sell them back to her, but he was arrested and charged with forgery, attempted grand theft, and perjury.
8 Yoko Ono
Okay, so Yoko Ono isn’t the most cherished woman in the world, thanks to her being responsible for breaking up one of the most famous bands in history. When Ono became involved with Beatle John Lennon, she was said to have lured him away from the band itself and many people hated her for it. Also, apparently she wasn’t very kind to her staff either, which included her chauffeur, Koral Karsan. Karsan is said to have placed hidden cameras all over Ono’s home at the time so he could blackmail her with secrets he discovered while filming her in the comfort of her own house. He demanded Ono pay him $2 million for the info he had collected, which allegedly included embarrassing photos he was threatening to release to the public. Once he was caught, Karsan expressed that he believed he did nothing wrong because he was always mistreated by Ono herself, which was probably true at the time.
7 Alex Rodriguez
At one time, MLB star Alex Rodriguez was one of the most recognizable faces in baseball and in the Yankees' organization. However, his entire world seemed to explode and come crashing down around him thanks to Anthony Bosch, a fake doctor who was skilled in the black market steroid business. Bosch’s business partner at the time, Carlos Acevedo, was sentence to three and a half years in prison for pushing steroids and thanks to mounting legal bills, Acevedo went to Bosch and asked about some of his famous clients, which included Rodriguez and baseball player Ryan Braun. Acevedo wanted to blackmail one of the clients into paying his legal bills for him and in return, not go to the MLB and reveal that the client was using steroids. Rodriguez ended up being the target over Braun because he had the fattest wallet and the most to lose, and the player ended up forking over almost $400,000 dollars to keep an investigation at bay. In the end, Rodriguez came clean of his usage and was granted immunity in exchange for testifying against Bosch and Acevedo.
6 Bruce Willis
It’s bad enough when random people attempt to blackmail you out of thousands of dollars, but it’s an entirely different kind of suck when an old friend turns around and attempts to do it. This was the case for actor Bruce Willis who was extorted by a childhood buddy of his named Bruce DiMattia, a man who Willis even allowed to live in his house rent free. From 2002 to 2006, DiMattia worked as Willis’ personal live-in assistant and was in charge of managing Willis’ memorabilia and organizing his family photographs and stuff. DiMattia later turned around and threatened to release all of Willis’ private pictures and disclose personal information about the actor if he didn’t pay close to $1 million dollars. After DiMattia’s employment ended, he refused to move out of Willis’ house. Just goes to show you really can’t trust anyone once you’ve hit it big. How depressing.
5 Jennifer Lopez
From what I understand, you’re supposed to actually TRUST the person you hire on as head of your personal security, something singer/actress Jennifer Lopez failed to do. Back in 2012, CNN reported that Lopez was suing her former security guard and driver who she claimed had tried to blackmail her. Driver Hakob Manoukian went to Lopez and demanded $2.8 million dollars or else he was going to leak to the press personal information he learned while driving Lopez around. Lopez then turned around and sued Manoukian, claiming he was in breach of his contract. In the lawsuit, Lopez claims that her former driver “became hostile and angry because he mistakenly and unreasonably believed he had the unqualified right to designate the security team and profit from any budgetary allocations for such security.” Manoukian had only worked for Lopez for a month before things so expertly exploded in his face.
4 David Boreanaz
Oh noooo, not Angel! Back in 2010, actor David Boreanaz went on the record with People magazine and exposed the fact that he had been cheating on his wife of years with one of Tiger Woods’ many “girlfriends”. “I felt as though I was being blackmailed or there was some sort of extortion,” Boreanaz revealed to the magazine about his mistress. The actor had been having an affair with Rachel Uchitel when she turned around and asked him for money in exchange for her silence. Uchitel was a TV personality and nightclub manager who lost her fiancé in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Uchitel then hit a turn in her career when it was discovered that she was having an affair with golfer Tiger Woods, marking the beginning of his own downfall. Good news is Boreanaz managed to salvage his relationship with his wife, citing the affair and his confession as a “turning point” in their marriage.
3 Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes
One year after film icon Tom Cruise married the Dawson’s Creek doe-eyed girl-next-door Katie Holmes, a man named David Hans Schmidt (a 47-year old man known as “The Sultan of Sleaze” in Hollywood) stole personal wedding pictures of Cruise and Holmes and used them in an extortion plot involving the couple. Schmidt was known around Hollywood as the man who was everyone’s go to-for celebrity tapes. Schmidt allegedly attempted to sell the photos to Cruise and demanded more than $1 million from the actor. While no one is entirely positive on how Schmidt came into possession of the photos in the first place, Cruise wasn’t having any of it and went directly to the FBI. Feds ended up finally arresting Schmidt who was also responsible for auctioning off Paris Hilton’s personal diaries along with naked photos of the heiress.
2 Rob Lowe
Rule number one when interviewing people to live in your home, celebrities: ALWAYS DO A BACKGROUND CHECK. Though, of course, even then you can never be too sure. This was the case with actor Rob Lowe who revealed in a tell-all blog for the Huffington Post that his former nanny was trying to blackmail him for $1.5 million dollars, claiming that she was harassed and assaulted by the actor and demanded to expose the information to the public if he didn’t pay. The nanny, named Jessica Gibson, then turned right around and countersued Lowe. “I love the children, I needed the job, and I always thought it would get better – and I was scared,” Gibson said on Today in an interview with Meredith Vieira. She expressed that Lowe exposed himself to her on several occasions and even touched certain areas in front of her. Yikes!
1 Whitney Houston
Back in 2013, the FBI released files that claimed the late singer Whitney Houston, was successfully blackmailed back in the early 1990’s. A woman (who wasn’t identified) was blackmailing Houston for $100,000, threatening to release details of her private life at the time to several publications. Later down the road, the amount was raised to $250,000. While the FBI claimed it was extortion, Houston and her father said that the woman in question was actually a friend who “would never do anything to embarrass her”. Even though the case was closed, Houston’s dad sent the woman a confidentiality agreement along with money. The feds also released that Houston was being stalked by an overly obsessive fan who threatened to hurt people if she didn’t reply to his many letters. All this should be a firm case in people NOT wanting to ever be famous.