20 Celebs Who Lost It All (And Went Broke)

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Collage of Lindsey Lohan, Nicolas Cage, and Fantasia

Sad to say, riches to rags stories are common among the rich and famous. Celebs who went broke often disappear for a while and people wonder what happened to them.

Most people think that famous people are just rich but have no idea where that money comes from. They don't really understand how royalties work and things like that, so regular people make a lot of assumptions about celebrity bank accounts.

And, do you know who else makes those same assumptions? Celebrities. It turns out, very few people understand economics, budgeting, and other boring-yet-super-important stuff like that.

Someone might be famous, but that doesn't mean they have a high net worth or are still making money.

Sometimes, they make a lot of money really quick and then make almost nothing for several years — but keep on spending money like it's still rolling in. Sometimes, they file for bankruptcy or neglect to pay taxes.

That's why it shouldn't be surprising to find out that celebs often go broke. They live like they're making millions a year, but that's usually not the case.

Here are 20 celebrities who went broke and their riches to rags stories.

Kim Basinger

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Hollywood Riches To Rags

Kim Basinger, well-known for movies like "Batman" and " Never Say Never Again," was once so rich that she bought an entire town in Georgia for $20 million in cash, according to the Chicago Tribune.

She had a net worth of $5.5 million, according to The Things. But, after her investment in the Georgia town failed, an expensive divorce with Alec Baldwin, and a lawsuit with Maine Line Pictures after she dropped out of a movie, she had to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. 

Basinger also deals with social anxiety, agoraphobia, and panic attacks, which she discussed on HBO's, "Panic: A Film About Coping," in 2001. And in 2018, she lost her Malibu home to a fire

Her last major movie role was in "8 Mile" in 2002. Lately, she's only been in smaller roles.

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Pamela Anderson

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Hollywood Riches To Rags

Former Baywatch star Pam Anderson got into trouble when she was hit with a tax bill while she was having major construction done on her mansion in 2009, according to People magazine. Apparently, she didn't have enough money to cover the cost of even one of those, never mind both at the same time.

Anderson was later added to California's list of residents with the biggest tax debts, according to ABC News.

In 2020, she married producer Jon Peters and divorced 12 days later. In an interview with Page Six, Anderson claimed that Peters was too controlling, while Peters said that everything she told Page Six was a lie.

"I dropped everything for Pam," said Peters in an e-mail he sent to Page Six. "She had almost $200,000 in bills and no way to pay it so I paid it and this is the thanks I get. There’s no fool like an old fool."

RELATED: Who Is Jon Peters? Pamela Anderson's Ex-Husband Says She Used Him To 'Pay Off Bills' During 12-Day Marriage

Nicolas Cage

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Hollywood Riches To Rags

Ever wonder why Nicolas Cage does so many weird movies? Because he's still digging himself out of a gigantic financial hole he dug himself by spending money like he was a king, says Business Insider

He literally has to say "yes" to every role that's offered to him.

In recent years, it's included smaller roles in movies like "Teen Titans Go to the Movies" and "Into The Spider Verse," says The Guardian.

In a turn of good fortune for Cage, he'll be starring in "The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent" and it's said to be his most Nicolas Cage role ever because he's playing... himself. 

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Lindsay Lohan

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Hollywood Riches To Rags

If you keep living the movie star lifestyle long after you've stopped being an actual movie star, it's going to catch up to you. That's what happened to Lindsay Lohan, star of "The Parent Trap," "Mean Girls," and "Herbie: Fully Loaded."

She stopped getting roles because she was notoriously difficult to work with because of her partying. When the work stopped, the party didn't, and neither did the taxes nor the legal fees from her long-suffering attorney. Not a good financial decision.

It was so bad that Charlie Sheen actually helped her out with some of her bills, according to TMZ

Her original net worth was around $28 million, according to The List. Now, it's between $800,000 to $1 million. 

In 2019, she filmed an MTV reality series called, "Lindsay Lohan's Beach Club," which was set in a resort she owned in Greece. She currently lives in Dubai but occasionally returns to New York. 

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Kelis

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Hollywood Riches To Rags

The singer, who broke into the music scene in the 90's and was famous for her song "Milkshake," ran out of money after her divorce from hip-hop artist, Nas in 2009, according to TMZ. She was pregnant at the time.

In 2018, Page Six reported that Kelis was receiving $8,000 in child support from Nas but was asking for more, due to her $25,000 monthly expenses. She was making some money from her entertainment and touring company as well as her food business. 

In a 2020 profile written by Hadley Freeman for The Guardian, it was revealed that Kelis now lives two and a half hours out of L.A., where she has a 10-acre farm, complete with a vegetable garden, chickens, and baby goats. Living with her is her husband, Mike, their four-year-old son, and her 10-year-old son with Nas.

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MC Hammer

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Hollywood Riches To Rags

MC Hammer, known for the hit "U Can't Touch This" and parachute pants, went from rags to riches. He lived a lavish lifestyle of luxury cars, private jets, and racehorses. But, in just five years, he went back to rags, according to Celebrity Net Worth

In 1996, he filed for bankrupty protection, according to SF Gate. He also owed a lot of money to various people, banks, and law firms. 

After his fall from grace, MC Hammer became a preacher and ordained minister and even released some religious songs. 

Over the years, there were several attempts to come back, including a collab with South Korean rapper, PSY, on "Gangnam Style/2 Legit To Quit" mashup performance in the 2012 American Music Awards.

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Gary Busey

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Hollywood Riches To Rags

Gary Busey was once in a serious motorcycle accident in 1988, and it's believed that his injuries caused serious brain damage. 

Since the accident, his behavior became more erratic and impulsive, which made his career downturn not very surprising.

By 2012, his net worth was less than $50,000 and he had more than $500,000 in debt, leading him to file for bankruptcy, according to TMZ. He owed money to banks, the IRS, and various people.

Busey won the 14th season of Celebrity Big Brother in 2014. And in 2020, he starred in "Pet Judge," an Amazon Prime series, in which he presides over a fictional court that resolves quarrels over pets. 

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Burt Reynolds

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Hollywood Riches To Rags

Burt Reynolds was once the biggest actor in the world. After a bad divorce that cost him $80 million, a failed restaurant, and other poor investments, he had to declare bankruptcy in 1996, according to E! 

Rumors of financial hardship resurfaced in late 2014 when he auctioned off 600 personal items in Las Vegas, but the actor denied being broke, according to Entertainment Tonight.

"I have been dealing with a business dispute for many years as well as a divorce settlement," he told the outlet. "I am simply selling some of my memorabilia that I have enjoyed for so many years but do not have use nor room for them anymore."

He died of a heart attack in 2018 while running lines for the film, "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood," says a report from the Hollywood Reporter.

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Billy Joel

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Hollywood Riches To Rags

Don't let family handle your finances. Billy Joel found this out the hard way, in 1989, after his now-ex brother-in-law mishandled Joel's money and he lost everything, says The Things

Joel filed a $90 million lawsuit against him but lost. So, instead, they settled out of court for $8 million. 

Despite the setback, the singer did eventually bounce back, according to Celebrity Net Worth. He released an album in 2001 and went on several tours. He also wrote an autobiography entitled "The Book of Joel: A Memoir."

His current net worth is $225 million.  

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Mike Tyson

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Hollywood Riches To Rags

In a 2013 article in the Daily Mail, former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson revealed in his autobiography, "Undisputed Truth," that he was so broke after leaving prison that he couldn't pay his debt to the IRS. He had been sentenced to six years in prison. 

Now, Tyson lives in Las Vegas, in a $2.5 million home, according to Sports Casting. Talk about a comeback. 

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Ed McMahon

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Hollywood Riches To Rags

Ed McMahon was the loveable sidekick of Jonny Carson in "The Tonight Show." In 2008, The Huffington Post reported that the announcer owed $664,000 from a mortgage loan of nearly $5 million and was on the verge of losing his Beverly Hills home. And it wasn't because he was spending frivolously.

The co-author of McMahon's autobiography, David Fisher, said that the actor was so generous that a lot of his money went into giving tips and even helping his third wife launch a clothing company.

"Ed is someone who loves to make people happy," said Fisher.

McMahon had also broken his neck in an accident the year prior, rendering him unable to work. 

"If you spend more money than you make, you know what happens. A couple of divorces thrown in, a few things like that," McMahon said in CNN's "Larry King Live," where he appeared in a neck brace and was accompanied by his wife. 

He passed away in 2009 at 86 years old. The L.A. Times said that his cause of death was unknown.

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Fantasia

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Hollywood Riches To Rags

As the winner of Season three of "American Idol," Fantasia Barrino was on her way to fame and fortune. And, for a while, she was! She had a hit single, was nominated for a Grammy, and even hit the Broadway stage starring in "The Color Purple."

However, being the sole breadwinner of her family, according to The List, can take a toll on a person, no matter how much money they earn. She entrusted her finances to someone else, which resulted in her home being put up for auction and missed performances of "The Color Purple," which led to half a million of refunds. 

"You have to take care of your money. You have to meet with your lawyers and look over your schedule and figure out what it is that you have going on," she said in a 2010 article for Oprah.

In a 2019 interview for the Tammi Mac show, Fantasia revealed that she's been slowly building herself back up.

"I lost everything twice. So, I cook my own food. I don’t need no chef. I’m from North Carolina; my grandma and my mama taught me how to cook," she said.

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Michael Jackson

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Hollywood Riches To Rags

You'd think that one of the most famous musicians of our time would have heaps of money that could last beyond his lifetime. But, as it turns out, even Michael Jackson is not immune to financial trouble. 

The King of Pop was allegedly broke when he died, according to Newsweek

William R. Ackerman, a forensic accountant, said that Jackson had annual payments of $30 million to pay debt, lavish expenses like jewelry, and for keeping up the infamous Neverland Ranch. 

The debt apparently began in 1994 and grew throughout the years. The debt ended up being between $400 to $500 million at his death. 

Interestingly, Forbes named Jackson one of the top-earning dead celebrities, the latest one being in 2020.

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Willie Aames

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Hollywood Riches To Rags

In a 2017 interview with Studio 10, former 60's child actor Willie Aames said that he "went from eating at the White House to sleeping in the bushes" due to the wrong decisions he made, namely alcohol addiction.

To pick himself back up, he worked as a satellite installer and later on worked on a cruise ship, which allowed him to meet his first wife.

In 2015, Aames returned to acting in a Hallmark movie called "Harvest Stone" and went on to do two more Hallmark films, according to TV Over Mind. Now, he is married to his third wife and they own properties in L.A. and Vancouver. He continues to work in film and T.V. 

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Marvin Gaye

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Hollywood Riches To Rags

Marvin Gaye was called the Prince of Soul and the Prince of Motown. He lived in Belgium for a while before moving back to the U.S. and settling in L.A., says Cheat Sheet.

However, in 1984, Gaye got into a fight with his father, who abused him throughout his childhood. His father shot and killed the singer.

At the time of his death, Gaye owed $9 million to the IRS, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

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Wesley Snipes

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Hollywood Riches To Rags

Being a celebrity doesn't make one exempt from paying taxes but as this list has pointed out, many just don't and that gets them in deep, deep trouble. Actor Wesley Snipes spent three years in prison for tax evasion back in 2008, according to People. 

He was fined $5 million for not filing millions worth of past tax returns. 

"The law says you pay for people who are experts to manage your business affairs, yet I was included as a co-conspirator with the lawyer and the accountants," he said in a 2020 interview with The Guardian. "Now this is rare. Very unusual situation.” 

Since being released from prison in 2013, he's appeared in various movies and T.V. shows, his latest one being "Coming 2 America" alongside Eddie Murphy. 

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Toni Braxton

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Hollywood Riches To Rags

In 2019, singer Toni Braxton filed for bankruptcy... for the third time. E! News obtained court records that showed the IRS had filed a lien against Braxton for more than $340,200 in back taxes back in 2017. She also owed money to the State of California in franchising taxes.

The singer had previously filed for bankruptcy in 1998 and again in 2010, the latter of which she won an order that discharged some of the debts. 

She recently admitted in a 20/20 episode that her home decor habit had contributed to the debts, according to Essence.

"I love dishes and house things so I kind of lost it a little bit on the houseware," she said. "One-thousand thread-count sheets, that’s what I indulged in." 

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50 Cent

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Hollywood Riches To Rags

Rapper 50 Cent bought Mike Tyson's mansion in 2003 after the success of his first album, says a 2020 profile by The Guardian. But, even then, he was already having trouble paying $800 a month for the rent of his apartment. 

In 2011, the rapper filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy after accumulating $36 million in debt, but he did manage to pay off $23 million of it in five years. He also lied about owning bitcoin in 2018 and even allowed fans to buy his albums using the cryptocurrency, according to The Things.

Now, he lives in a 3-bedroom apartment in New York and had released a book called, "Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter."

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Floyd Mayweather

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Hollywood Riches To Rags

In a weird twist of irony since his nickname is "Money," world-famous fighter Floyd Mayweather had such a lavish lifestyle that he ended up almost losing it all.

In 2009, he had to pay the IRS $5.6 million in back taxes and, in 2017, he owed them $30 million in unpaid taxes, according to Cheat Sheet. He also likes to gamble.

Right now, his net worth is $450 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth, and is paid $300 million per fight! In 2021, he fought disgraced YouTuber Logan Paul in an exhibition fight.

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Johnny Depp

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Hollywood Riches To Rags

Johnny Depp, probably one of the most renowned actors of our time, lost $560 million in movie earnings back in 2016, according to Vanity Fair. He was allegedly violent towards his then-wife, Amber Heard, and sued News Group Newspapers and journalist Dan Wootton for calling him a "wife beater."

Just like other stars on this list, Depp's trust in others to handle his finances had resulted in him losing it all. He owed $17 million in back taxes as his management allegedly did not pay taxes on his behalf for 17 years. 

However, in an article by the Cinema Blend, Depp's management team claimed that it was the actor's own "wild spending" that caused him to lose all his money.

Although he was asked to leave his role as Gellart Grindelwald in the "Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them" franchise, he was still paid for the role. 

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