Many people think that celebrities are pretty much set for life financially once they reach success in their industry. After all, at a certain level, most celebrities command millions and millions per project, whether that's a world tour or a film role. Even if they're living in lavish homes with staff, there's plenty of cash to go around, right? Well, not always.
There are actually quite a few celebrities whose fortunes have fizzled out over the years, even though they were once making huge amounts of money. For some, it's due to their lavish lifestyles—even though they were making major bank, they were spending even more.
For others, it's because they handed over control of their finances to trusted advisors who wound up making serious errors. Whatever the specific situation, these celebrities know what it feels like to have it all and then lose it—and it probably doesn't feel great.
There are some who have managed to bounce back, for the most part, and start earning impressive paycheques once again. Then, there are some whose financial issues left them in a tough position for years to come.
It's strange to think that not every celebrity making millions is set for life, but it's true. Here are 21 celebs whose fortunes have fizzled out over the years.
Nicolas Cage is a movie star with plenty of successful films under his belt. Though there are some movies that people love to watch simply to make fun of, the fact is, he made some impressive paychecks in the past. He also had no qualms about spending his hard-earned dough, buying luxurious homes, expensive cars, and even rare artifacts that caught his fancy.
His spending eventually caught up with him, though, and even though he earned a whopping $40 million in 2009, one of his peak years, he soon had an issue. Cage ended up having to sell a lot of his possessions to get out of a tough spot—and start working as much as he could to up his earnings.
Even if you've never watched a boxing match in your life, you probably know who Mike Tyson is. His fame has transcended the sport and he's just known as a major pop culture figure now—although what he did in the boxing ring was what earned him the bulk of his cash.
Over his years as a boxer, Tyson managed to pull in around $300 million, which is absolutely insane. However, in 2003, he was facing $23 million in debt and owed money to everyone from the IRS to his personal trainer, he had a $9 million divorce settlement to pay, and he was apparently behind on child support as well. Talk about a tough situation!
The crazy thing about the entertainment industry is that things can change in the blink of an eye, as many former superstars know. There was a time when you couldn't go anywhere without hearing MC Hammer's smash hit "U Can't Touch This," and people around the world were copying the rapper's signature style pants. Soon, his bank account was filled with around $30 million, and he was enjoying the fruits of his labour.
The problem is, Hammer ended up spending a little too much, too fast—and by the mid-1990s, was around $13 million in debt. How on earth does that happen? Well, a lot of it was plain old indulging—he bought a horse stable with 19 racehorses, made roughly $30 million in renovations to his mansion, and more.
There are some things that seem like good ideas at the time but end up being a little bit foolish, as Kim Basinger knows very well. Basinger has been in the industry for decades now, working year after year as a successful actress. In 1989, when she was in a strong position in the industry with several hits under her belt, she decided to make an investment. She sunk $20 million into buying a town—literally.
Kim purchased a small, 1,691-acre town in Georgia called Braselton, which she had plans to transform into a tourist attraction. In theory, it could have been a unique money maker that supplemented her acting income. In practice, it was a money pit and she ended up having to sell it after losing a lot of money.
There was a time when it seemed like rapper 50 Cent had a new hit song every week. He was all over the airwaves, fans were obsessed with the new rapper with the fascinating backstory, and he was raking in the dough. In fact, as recently as 2015, he was worth an estimated $155 million. However, even that amount of money can disappear quickly if you make the wrong decisions, as 50 soon found out.
He made several bad investments and faced a lawsuit, in the end winding up facing a major debt. Luckily, 50 made some good money moves and ended up setting up a plan to repay his debts over a five year period. He's still in that process, so we're not sure what he'll do when he's done.
Aaron Carter grew up watching his big brother, Nick, succeed in the music industry with the boy band The Backstreet Boys. Music apparently ran in the Carter family, and when he was just a tween, Aaron started recording his own music as well—and it went pretty well. He was definitely living comfortably for years, until things went south. Carter apparently neglected to pay taxes and racked up about $2 million in debt.
It doesn't seem like much in comparison to many celebrity paychecks, but for Carter it was. At the time it all went down, he apparently had very few assets and less than $1,000 in his chequing account. Yikes!
Toni Braxton proves that being a good singer isn't always enough in the music industry. Sometimes, you need to make sure that the deals you've signed are financially strong—otherwise, you'll be out of luck. That's what happened with Braxton's first album, which she says she received less than $2,000 in royalties from. Despite being a hugely popular artist in her peak in the '90s, the millions she made in album sales didn't always go back into her pocket.
Eventually, things got to be too much to handle and she made a major change in 1998 to get her finances back in order. Then, things went south yet again in 2013, when she cancelled a tour because of health problems and ended up in a tricky legal situation. Talk about a rough couple of years!
Mekhi Phifer is one of those actors you likely assumed wasn't super wealthy but was at least quite comfortable. He wasn't exactly an A-Lister spotted on every red carpet, but he worked fairly steadily. However, it turns out that assumption isn't exactly true. There was a time in his life when he was making a monthly income of about $7,500. Definitely not too shabby, but not anything close to what many celebrities make per month.
The issue is that, while that was happening, he had about $11,600 in monthly expenses—which means he was in the red, month after month. He made a decision in 2014 to change his finances, and claimed about $1.3 million in debt, while he only possessed $67,000 in assets.
You would assume that all professional athletes are set for life. After all, even though they have limited time in their respective sport, they make such ludicrous amounts of money that they can just save it for the last few decades of their lives, right? Well, in theory.
The problem is, many professional athletes don't really know much about money when they strike it big and end up squandering huge amounts of wealth. Allen Iverson is the perfect example. The legendary basketball player earned around $200 million in his years in the NBA but ended up totally broke by 2012. Most of his money issues were due to his lavish habits—at one point, he owed a single jeweler he worked with frequently $859,000. That's a lot of bling!
Dionne Warwick is a legend in the music industry. She's sold over 100 million albums over her decades in the industry, has five Grammys, and at one point was earning six figures—per month! You would think that she would be entering her older years living comfortably.
However, that's not the case. Due to a combination of mismanaging her finances and loving shopping a little too much, she's lost pretty much everything she once earned. In 2013, she was facing a $10 million tax bill and tons of credit card debt and had only about $1,000 to her name. It just goes to show that things really can change in an instant.
Given what a high profile celebrity he is, many people heard of Johnny Depp's financial issues. Plus, it happened quite recently. Back in 2017, Depp had a ton of lawsuits brewing, and he was placing the blame of his financial woes on several former managers and the decisions they made. However, when it was all going down, the public got a glimpse into the type of lifestyle Depp lived—and to say it was lavish would be an understatement.
He spent roughly $300,000 a month to pay his 40-person staff, $30,000 a month on wine, $200,000 a month on flights on private planes, $150,000 a month for 24-hour security and much, much more.
Many '80s television fans will remember Joey Lawrence from his time on the hit sitcom Blossom. And, unlike many former child stars, he got a second chance with the show Melissa & Joey in the '00s. Despite working somewhat regularly in the industry, though, his financial situation wasn't exactly rosy.
He didn't face any major situations or lawsuits or anything like that. He simply lived beyond his means and was about $19,000 in the red every single month—which adds up really quickly. When he decided things had gotten out of control in 2017, he and his wife only had $8,000 in the bank, and owed much, much more in credit card debt, back taxes, unpaid rent and more.
Lindsay Lohan is proof of just what a rough industry Hollywood can be. She got her start as a child star in The Parent Trap, and eventually transitioned into becoming a legitimate teen star. She appeared in a ton of popular movies over the years before her personal issues ended up leading to trouble and she got derailed battling her demons.
Back in 2010, she apparently owed $600,000 in credit card debt and was even kicked out of an apartment she had in London because she neglected to pay $137,000 in rent. She also had to settle a major debt with the IRS. Many of her financial issues likely stemmed from her personal battles, so hopefully, she's managed to turn it all around.
When Tori Spelling was growing up, she didn't have to worry about money—ever. As the daughter of the extremely wealthy producer Aaron Spelling, she grew up in the lap of luxury in Beverly Hills. She ended up continuing her work as an actress and achieving moderate success, but it was nothing like the type of life she had as a child.
The problem is, she was spending the same as she did when her household had way more money coming in—and it eventually caught up with her. She simply didn't know how to budget and live within her means and ended up tangled up with a lot of bills, including $220,000 for a loan she and her hubby reneged on, a federal tax lien of around $707,000, and much more.
We're not sure who is giving so many celebrities bad tax advice, but it's a definite issue. Comedian and actor Chris Tucker was making major bank at one point in his professional life, but that wasn't enough for the financial issues that came his way.
At one point, Chris owed upwards of $14 million in a tax lien placed against him, which is definitely a major chunk of change to come up with. He ended up making some smart financial moves and reached a deal with the IRS to settle his massive debt, so it seems like he'll come out relatively unscathed in the end.
Burt Reynolds is a legend in the industry and was very successful in the spotlight at one point. However, he ended up making a few poor financial decisions. The first is the fact that he straight up didn't make payments on his mortgage for a year and nearly had to foreclose on his home in Florida.
Then, he went through a really high profile divorce with actress Loni Anderson, which also placed a major financial burden on him. Reynolds isn't penniless now, but he's definitely lost a ton of the fortune he once made to a few bad breaks in life. It can disappear too easily!
At one point, Lil' Kim was an artist that everyone wanted to have guest starring on their tracks. A verse from her was gold and could help propel your song to the top of the charts. However, she ran into a bit of a sticky situation when she neglected to pay her taxes—for 7 years. Yikes!
She ended up owing nearly a million dollars in back taxes. To make matters even worse, her former legal team ended up suing her because she apparently didn't pay for their services. Talk about a tricky situation. After all her issues, Lil' Kim has all but disappeared from the industry.
There was a time when Brendan Fraser's face was all over the movie posters in any theatre. He had countless starring roles and was what most would consider an A-Lister. However, he's proof that all of that can disappear in an instant—nowadays, many people have no clue who he even is. One of the major issues he faced was child support and alimony.
Brendan separated from his ex back when his star power was still quite strong and agreed to make payments that he just couldn't make when his position in the industry changed. At one point in 2013, Fraser confessed to a judge that he just couldn't pay the $900,000 a year he was meant to pay in child support. That's definitely a pretty major amount!
Hollywood can turn a regular person into a superstar seemingly overnight, but it can all disappear so quickly. Brett Butler knows that all too well. The actress was once a star on the sitcom Grace Under Fire, and many assume she simply retired from the industry after a while and is living out her years in comfort. That's not what happened, though.
Brett battled with some personal issues, and just a few short years after she was walking the red carpet, she actually ended up homeless. It just goes to show that, no matter how much money you're making, bad financial decisions and troubles in your personal life can make it all disappear.
Winning a reality television show definitely isn't a guaranteed ticket to superstardom, but it can give you a short window of time to make something happen. After all, you stand out from the crowd of aspiring stars a bit once you've proven you can command an international audience and win a competition show.
Fantasia Barrino knows that well—after years of struggling, she ended up winning American Idol. For a while, it seemed like she was racking up some successes in the industry. However, she soon ended up neglecting to make payments on her home in North Carolina, and eventually lost the property. Just years after her win, she was facing a very uncertain future.
There are some celebrities who have been intimidated by owing $1 or 2 million in back taxes—Wesley Snipes wouldn't even be bothered by that amount. That's because, at one point in his life, Snipes owed a staggering $17 million in taxes. He ended up actually having to spend a few years in jail because he simply couldn't come up with that kind of money in the blink of an eye.
He followed up his sentence with a period of house arrest, and could likely get back to the industry now. However, that type of thing has a major impact on your life, and Snipes has definitely struggled to retain to the level of fame he was at before all the tax issues.
Sources: Cheat Sheet, Cheapis, Simplemost, Best Life Online