While you might think that only so-called "regular" people experience money issues and difficulty with spending habits and paying their bills, celebrities, too, can face serious financial pressures, sometimes even to the point of being forced to file for bankruptcy. Though debt to the point of bankruptcy is undoubtedly an overwhelming stressor, some celebrities who faced bankruptcy, but came out on top, were able to find a way to make it through. For the most part, this isn't one of those cases where celebrities' money struggles are just like anyone else's, unless you also own a multitude of homes, valuable works of art, designer clothing, and fancy cars, or employ a staff. Yet living on a budget and recognizing — and breaking — potentially devastating spending habits can be difficult no matter how much money you have, especially if you have quite a bit more than you're used to or it seems as though there's a never-ending supply.
Some celebrities had well-publicized financial troubles, some of which led to bankruptcy, while others faced challenges before their careers — and fame — really took off. These celebrities may have struggled with financial issues in the past, but they came out of the situations ready and willing to move forward.
R&B singer and Grammy winner Toni Braxton has filed for bankruptcy not once, but twice. She told 20/20 that she first filed for bankruptcy in 1998, after making only $1,972 in royalties from her first recording contract. Then, after receiving diagnoses for lupus and microvascular angina and being told by doctors that she likely would not be able to perform like she used to, she reluctantly filed for bankruptcy a second time. In an effort to work back from that, ABC News reported that Braxton began to accept private performances overseas, as well as do some acting. She and her sisters also star in their own TV show, Braxton Family Values, on WE TV.
Photographer Annie Leibovitz received a $24 million loan from a company called Art Capital in 2008, as the New York Times reported. In order to get the loan, Leibovitz had to put up her art work and homes as collateral. Leibovitz narrowly avoided bankruptcy in 2009, after she and Art Capital struck a deal that resulted in the firm dropping its lawsuit against her and extending the maturity date on her loan, The Telegraph reported. Leibovitz was able to retain her work as well as three townhouses in Greenwich Village and a house in upstate New York. The New York Post reported that she sold her Greenwich Village properties in 2014 for $28.5 million.
Award-winning actress Kim Basinger declared bankruptcy all the way back in 1993. Variety reported that she had received a judgment to pay $7.4 million to Main Line Pictures after breaching an oral contract with the company to star in Boxing Helena. During the ordeal, her net worth was found to be nearly $5.4 million. Basinger has since won an Academy Award for her role in L.A. Confidential and taken on some additional roles.
Teresa Giudice, one of the stars of the Real Housewives of New Jersey, and her husband, Joe Giudice, filed for bankruptcy in 2009, as E! News reported. The couple dropped their petition in 2011, as a separate E! News article noted. Giudice served time in prison for related criminal charges and her husband is currently serving his sentence. Giudice has written several books and is a current cast member on the Bravo reality show.
In 2013, former child pop star Aaron Carter filed for bankruptcy, CNN reported. Carter told OWN, the Oprah network, that when he turned 18, he should have had $20 million or more in a trust in accordance with a California law meant to protect child entertainers. Instead, the account contained about $2 million and he found out that he owed $4 million. Since then, Carter has been writing music and doing other things and is working to rebuild.
In 2015, after losing a privacy lawsuit, rapper 50 Cent filed for bankruptcy, Rolling Stone reported. In 2016, TMZ reported that a judge signed off on the rapper's bankruptcy deal which allowed him to pay off his $23 million debt to two creditors over the course of five years. 50 Cent has continued to work on TV shows and other projects.
Hip hop star MC Hammer filed for bankruptcy in 1996, SF Gate reported. While, as Thrillist reported, he was earning about $33 million a year at the peak of his career, just a few short years later he was forced to file for bankruptcy. His filing revealed that he had between 200 and 999 creditors at the time, as the previously-mentioned SF Gate article noted. Hammer continues to work. The Los Angeles Times reported that he headlined a show at the Staples Center in L.A. in 2017.
Superstar Cyndi Lauper filed for bankruptcy in the early 1980s, after her first group, Blue Angel, broke up, Rolling Stone reported. This happened before she enjoyed success as a singer, so it's safe to say she bounced back from the struggles early in her career. She toured with Rod Stewart in 2017 and is set to join him again in 2018. Plus, a different Rolling Stone article reported that Lauper will also compose the score for a musical adaptation of Working Girl.
CNN reported that Nicolas Cage's former business manager warned the actor that if he didn't change his ways, he could be headed for bankruptcy. At one point, the actor owned upwards of 15 "residences" and was worth $150 million, CNBC reported. In the former CNN article, the outlet noted that Cage sued his former business manager, arguing that he was profiting from his job, while leading the actor "down a path to financial ruin." In 2017, it was estimated that he was worth about $25 million.
Former talk show host Larry King was forced to declare bankruptcy back in 1978, after being arrested for grand larceny in 1971 (the charges were later dropped), subsequently losing his radio job, and struggling for years to find another one, TIME reported. King, of course, later hosted a show on CNN that aired for over 20 years, retiring from CNN in 2010, only to pick up two more shows, Larry King Now and Politicking.
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