Famous People Go Bankrupt Too


Going bankrupt is a horrible thing to happen to anyone. However, you shouldn’t think that it is something which only happens to a few people. The truth is that the number of bankrupts across the world is so high now that it is no surprise to find that they come from all walks of life.

There are a few famous names on the list of people made bankrupt over the years. Of course, some of these famous people recovered from their bankruptcy to become financially very successful in life while others seem to lurch on from one cash crisis to another.

Shane Filan

I have seen pictures of this guy’s face on my niece’s bedroom wall countless times but only just found out his name. He was a singer with Westlife who invested a huge amount of money in property in Sligo, flash cars and even a helicopter. Things went wrong when the Irish property market went downhill and he was declared bankrupt. He explained recently how he couldn’t afford to buy a £30 toy for his son, how he lost his wedding ring in the bankruptcy proceedings and how he had just £470 in his bank account following the hugely successful Westlife farewell tour. He seems to be doing better now and has confirmed that his family now sticks to a more sensible budget. Shane has a new record out and I imagine that my niece has already helped him out by buying a copy.

Gary Coleman

One of the more tragic cases of a star becoming insolvent involves Gary Coleman. The diminutive TV star was one of my favourites when I was growing up and even now I occasionally repeat his “What you talking bout Willis?” catchphrase from Diff´rent Strokes, to the bafflement of my younger relatives. He was said to have been worth about $7 million (over £4 million) at one point. Bad advice, medical expenses and dodgy agents and lawyers led to him being declared bankrupt in 1999. He stood for governor of California in 2003 and was still well known until his death in 2010, although he seems not to have ever fully recovered from his money problems.

Kerry Katona

This mother of four and I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here winner had already been made bankrupt once when she was declared bankrupt again this year. Kerry was quoted recently as saying that her money problems have stopped her getting married, while she has now pulled all but one of her children out of private school. Her money problems first came to light in 2008, when she failed to pay £82,000 of a tax bill and ended up bankrupt because of it. While researching this I only just found out that she is back with Atomic Kitten again, so some good has come out of it anyway.

Burt Reynolds

We need to go back a few years to discover about the bankruptcy of film star Burt Reynolds. It is worth doing this, as it shows us how easy it is to owe money no matter how much you earn. This hugely successful film and TV star was made bankrupt in 1996, owing $100,000 to his wig maker among other debts. Since then, he has run into one financial problem after another.  He tried to sell his massive Florida estate for $8.9 million in 2009 but it got repossessed by his bank a couple of years later. The 4 acre property has a private beach, a hair salon, a boat dock and a cinema but Reynolds was said to have missed mortgage payments on it for over a year. In fact, he had 2 mortgages on the house and it remains to be seen whether he can get back into financial shape after this latest setback.

Other Broke Stars

Peter Stringfellow, Kim Basinger, Larry King and even Eddie the Eagle have all gone bust in the past too, with some of them recovering to go on to greater financial success.

Do you know of other stars who went bust?

12 Responses to Famous People Go Bankrupt Too

  1. There’s a website called celebritynetworth.com that’s very interesting. Chris Tucker is $11.5 million in debt!

  2. The list is incredible. Giving lots of money to people with no money management skills is even more dangerous than them having no money at all! Its mind blowing the level of debt that these very wealthy people get into!

  3. Mark Ross says:

    Are NBA athletes considered as celebrities? Because if they are, I’m sure you’ll be able to come up with a lot of former NBA stars that got bankrupt after they call it quits playing basketball.

    • Robert Bell says:

      Yeah, sports people of all types seem to be particularly poorly prepared for handling a massive fortune Mark

  4. SavvyJames says:

    I recently recommended the ESPN documentary “Broke” (part of the 30 FOR 30 series) that touches on this very topic with regards to professional athletes. A very enlightening look at the factors that contribute to the phenomenon. The show is available for streaming — at least here in the U.S. on Netflix >>>

    Highly recommended!

  5. Debby says:

    I never really thought about stars going broke before I started looking at my expenses. I just figured they were dumb and irresponsible. But I think billion dollar wealth going down the drain, just shows the importance of a budget – no matter how much money you’re making.

  6. I can’t remember who it was…but I saw something recently about a celebrity that said she was “broke” and going through bankruptcy. They interviewed her in her multi-million dollar home. Sometimes bankruptcy can be misleading, and misused!

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