Hollywood hills sign

In 2012, more than 1.1 million individuals filed for bankruptcy in the United States. Debt consumes our lives and, quite often, it is through no fault of our own, but rather a stagnation of wages, an increase in the cost of living and an increase in unemployment and underemployment.


Debt can happen to any of us at anytime, and trying to stay afloat in this economy can simply be difficult. If you suffer from debt and need to file for bankruptcy, there’s no reason to be ashamed or worried, as millions of people are in the same boat. Some of these individuals who have suffered from debt and bankruptcy even include celebrities who were at one point very wealthy.

The following are a few examples, out of a very large list, of actors, athletes and reality television stars who went bankrupt for some interesting and unusual reasons.

1. Brendan Fraser

How he went bankrupt: Could not work after he was injured while trying to move a tree that had fallen on his home during a hurricane.

Brendan Fraser (Extraordinary Measures)

Photo courtesy of Mel

The star of The Mummy movie franchise is finding himself in quite a bit of sticky accounting thanks to a very expensive divorce that is costing him thousands of dollars a month in alimony and child support. It has been reported by various news sources that he is spending upwards of $85,000 a month while bringing in less and less thanks to ‘medical’ issues that are keeping him from starring in any new films.

2. Nicolas Cage

How he went bankrupt: Purchased 15 homes, one of which was an 8 million dollar castle. 
Nicholas Cage live

Photo courtesy of simovalley

Nicolas Cage, at one point reported to have $150 million in funds, has spent this through extravagant living and now owes the IRS more than he bargained for. The versatile actor has been the owner of a private island, 15 personal homes (including an $8 million castle that he reportedly never even lived in), boats, jets, jewels and more. But if this National Treasure star can’t keep it together financially, then don’t feel badly if you can’t either because at least you (hopefully) haven’t lost $150 million in frivolous spending.

3. Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt

How they went bankrupt: Convinced the world would end on December 21st, 2012, Heidi and Spencer gave away their 10 million dollar fortune to friends and strangers.

The Speidi’s (their Hollywood news nickname) allegedly spent more than $10 million anticipating the apocalypse predicted by the Mayan calendar in December 2012. The couple admitted to having gifted friends thousands of dollars as well as basically throwing money at anyone they could (tossing doormen 400 dollar tips, for instance) and are now struggling to live the lavish lifestyle they have become accustomed to living. In 2011, prior to having allegedly spent their millions of dollars on armored trucks and other doomsday gear, the couple moved in with Pratt’s parents in Santa Barbara. Both Montag and Pratt became famous after reality shows like Laguna Beach and The Hills become big hits on MTV. While it’s unclear if the couple has actually filed for bankruptcy, their money woes are a reality the couple can’t hide from.

4. Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson portrait

How he went bankrupt: Spent $4.5 million on cars, $2 million on a bathtub and $140K on the purchase of two Bengal Tigers 

The heavyweight champion used to earn an alleged $30 million a fight and was said to have had a $300 million to $400 million fortune in the bank at one point during his decades-long career. Now, however, the champ, on his third marriage, is living a barebones lifestyle. In 2003, he filed for bankruptcy, owing millions in back taxes to the government as well as other businesses like limo service companies. While his fortune was spent on diamond and gold necklaces, exotic cars and even more exotic pets, Tyson is making his life work even after bankruptcy; proving to those in similar situations that life does go on even if debt consumes you.

Photo courtesy of Brian Birzer


5. Kim Basinger

Young Kim Basinger

How she went bankrupt: Bought a town in Georgia for 20 million dollars

In the late 80s, then wealthy and famous actress Kim Basinger bought the town of Braselton, Georgia for 20 million dollars. Although she had hopes of turning the town into a tourist destination (with movie studios and a film festival), she was forced to sell the small Northeast Georgia town for 1 million dollars just five years later. Because she had bowed out of a movie role at the last minute, she was being sued by a movie studio and needed the money to settle the claim. Unfortunately for Basinger, however, the Braselton sale wasn’t enough to pay the $8 million she owed the film studio, and she was forced to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Photo courtesy of Roland Godefroy



6. Janice Dickinson

How she went bankrupt: Wracked up thousands of dollars worth of unpaid cosmetic surgery bills

According to an April 2013 New York Post article, Janice Dickinson has had to file for bankruptcy thanks to a decade’s worth of debt. This former supermodel and reality television star reportedly accrued 1 million dollars in debt and now owes $500,000 to the IRS and $8,000 to her dermatologist. Don’t cry for Janice just yet though, because reports say she recently purchased a 1.43 million dollar home in Beverly Hills. She claims to have her learned her lesson, telling reporters: “It will never happen again. I’m smarter now going through this.” We hope so!

7. Burt Reynolds

How he went bankrupt: Filed for bankruptcy because he owed $100,000 to his wig maker
Burt Reynolds

Photo courtesy of Alan Light

In 1996, after wracking up $10 million dollars in debt  ($100,000 of which he owed to his wig maker), actor Burt Reynolds filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Then in 2011, history repeated itself and Reynolds once again found himself unable to pay the bills and his home in Florida was foreclosed upon. He remains optimistic, however,  telling ABC News:

“…I know it is not the end of the world. There are a hell of a lot of other people worse off than I am, and my heart goes out to them. I will do like I’ve always done, keep my head up high and continue to move on down the road.”

Learn from these stars’ mistakes and don’t let these troubled times consume your life. Get help for your situation by contacting an experienced bankruptcy attorney in Las Vegas who can help you turn your life around. After all, if celebrities can get back on the road to success, often after blowing through millions of dollars, then so can you.

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