Fame and fortune come and go like the tides. One moment you might be driving Ferraris and living in Hollywood Hills, and the next you could be working in a Subway making footlong sandwiches. That’s a lesson that a lot of celebrities have, unfortunately, had to learn the hard way when they neglected to think about the long-term consequences of their extravagant lifestyles.
Of course, since celebrities aren’t like regular people, their version of being “broke” is still way different from your average person struggling to get by on minimum wage. Nonetheless, when their stars begin to fade and they have to rely more and more on royalty checks instead of fresh income, some celebs have to learn to pinch their pockets and cut coupons like the rest of us.
15 Lindsay Lohan
Once upon a time, Lindsay Lohan seemed primed to make the successful leap from child actor to adult superstar. Her movies Freaky Friday and Mean Girls were back-to-back hits, and her debut album sold over one million units in the US. However, like most former child stars, Lindsay’s idea of acting more mature in order to get edgier parts meant partying more, which lead to several brush-ins with the law. Diminishing box-office returns, increasingly bad reviews and a couple of trips to rehab later, Lohan, who was once considered to be Hollywood’s new “it” girl, was struggling to land roles.
Although Lohan has recently cleaned up her act somewhat, her star isn’t as bright as it once was. Her current net worth is estimated to be around only $500,000 and several of her comeback roles, including her turn as Elizabeth Taylor, have garnered her more negative attention instead of accolades, which—we’re sorry to say—makes us pine for the days of Herbie: Fully Loaded.
14 Tori Spelling
As the daughter of one of the most successful television producers of all time (the late Aaron Spelling), Tori Spelling didn’t need to go into acting. But since she already had a powerful showbiz family name, she probably figured that it would be a fun way to pass the time. But little did she realize that managing your own income is a lot harder when you don’t have daddy’s bank account to fall back on.
After Beverly Hills 90210 wrapped up, Spelling struggled to find work because…well…she just wasn’t that good of an actress. It also didn’t help that in spite of her lack of employment, she failed to curb her lavish lifestyle. Despite a brief return to TV in her own reality show, Spelling currently still has several lawsuits pending from unpaid loans and credit cards and she owes the IRS back taxes of $1 million. Her chronically unemployed husband also owes back child support payments for his child with his former partner—despite wanting to have even more kids! Too bad Tori can’t cancel her debt like they canceled her TV shows.
13 Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino
Even though it featured a cast of unknown narcissists who weren’t the sharpest tools around (but acted like complete tools), MTV’s Jersey Shore was a smash hit when it debuted in 2009. Milking their 15 minutes of fame as much as they could, many of the cast members invested their earnings into a number of businesses and remained pretty low key…save for one cast member, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino.
In January 2018, Sorrentino pleaded guilty to several counts of tax evasion, including not filing returns, filing false returns and conspiring to file false tax returns. Just where did it go wrong? Did “The Situation” spend all of his Jersey Shore earnings on hair gel and tanning lotion? The answer, unsurprisingly, is that he blew it on exotic cars, luxury watches and failed business ventures, like his brother’s tanning salon. (Come on, were you really that surprised to learn that he invested in a tanning salon?) At one point, Sorrentino claimed to be so down on his luck that he pawned his custom Ferrari tires on eBay. Oh, Situation, we wish we could say that we felt sorry for you. But the truth is, we don’t care. How’s that for a situation?
12 Drake Bell
Is it really surprising that a lot of former child actors are on this list? Yet another casualty of early fame and burnout is former Nickelodeon actor Drake Bell, who at one point in his career had his own show and burgeoning music career. So where did it all go wrong?
After his show, Drake and Josh, ended, Bell began to focus more on his music. Let’s just say that while Bell was a fan of The Beatles and The Beach Boys, we would never attain their level of success. By 2014, a house that he had purchased in 2007 with his Nickelodeon earnings was forced into foreclosure because he couldn’t keep up with the payments. Between 2009 and 2015, Bell also had two DUI arrests and experienced several health scares, including an injury to his wrist that could’ve potentially ended his guitar-playing days. While Bell has fully recovered from his injury and is in better spirits these days, we have little doubt that he’s probably very eager for that Drake and Josh reunion movie.
11 Chris Tucker
Chris Tucker played the quintessential funnyman sidekick in a slew of hit movies including Friday, The Fifth Element and the Rush Hour trilogy. But while he may have been great with telling jokes and getting laughs, Tucker was not so great at accounting and finances.
Like most celebrities, Tucker let his management team handle his money, which we have a feeling he deeply regrets. Although he may have successfully dodged bullets in the movies, not even Tucker could dodge the IRS, which came calling in 2014 and claimed that he owed over $14 million in back taxes over a seven-year period. Fortunately, Tucker was able to reach a settlement deal and stay out of jail, unlike some other celebs on this list, and he even joked about his money troubles in his stand-up special on Netflix. But the next time someone gives you financial advice, Mr. Tucker, we suggest that you fully understand the words coming out of their mouth.
10 Brendan Fraser
Before there was Chris Pratt, if producers needed an action movie star who could convincingly pull off death-defying stunts and crack a joke, they would cast Brendan Fraser. During his heyday, Fraser’s movies, especially the first two Mummy movies, raked in millions at the box office. He also wasn’t too shabby in dramatic roles, receiving praise for his appearances in Gods and Monsters and The Quiet American.
Things began to take a nosedive, however, after he divorced in 2007. In 2013, Fraser’s financial status was in such dire straits that he petitioned the court to reduce his annual alimony payments of $900,000 because he didn’t have enough money coming in to sustain the amount, and that he was losing about $87,000 per month after deducting his professional and cost-of-living expenses. Hopefully, Fraser will be able to resurrect his career like the mummy in his films because we hate to see a nice guy fall on hard times.
Rapper Tyga may be breaking new ground in the world of hip-hop, but he’s also continuing a bad trend of musicians spending more than they can afford in order to project the image that they’re living the good life.
Where shall we begin? In 2012, three women who appeared in one of his music videos sued him for failing to edit out nudity in the video after he had promised to do so. In 2013, Tyga agreed to purchase a watch and borrowed a bracelet from a Los Angeles jeweler, but failed to pay for the watch or return the bracelet, which resulted in a lawsuit claiming damages over $185,000. Between 2015 and 2016, he was sued by a number of landlords for failing to pay back rent and causing damages to properties that he rented. And to top it all off, 2016 just wasn’t Tyga’s year for cars; that year alone, he had a Bentley, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Maybach repossessed. We don’t know about you, but we think the “Still Got It” singer doesn’t quite have “it” anymore.
8 Rupert Grint
The Harry Potter franchise made instant millionaires out of its three young leads, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. But while Radcliffe and Watson have gone on to star in other successful films and theater productions, Grint is literally the red-headed stepchild of the bunch.
Although he’s not completely on the rocks, Grint’s inability to land leading-man roles has led him to become more reliant on his property portfolio; which is quite sizable, but hardly nets him Harry Potter bucks. Plus in 2016, Grint was ordered to pay £1 million in back taxes after listening to some bad accounting advice. The former Ron Weasley actor tried to appeal the decision, but was denied. Too bad there isn’t a spell to make taxes go away, eh Rupert?
7 Lena Headey
As Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones, Lena Heady plays one of the most wealthy and powerful characters in King’s Landing who is as ruthless as she is beautiful. However, in real life, Headey can hardly conquer her own checking account.
Even though she’s worked steadily in Hollywood for a number of years, back in 2013, Headey claimed that she had less than $5 in her bank account. At the time, she was only two years into filming Game of Thrones and while the show was an early hit, the money wasn’t quite rolling in yet. To top it all off, Headey was also going through a nasty divorce and her husband was trying to claim palimony and child support payments. While Headey’s finances seem to be in better shape these days, she recently listed her renovated Sherman Oaks home in 2017—one year after her ex-husband demanded that she pay for his legal fees and increase child support payments. We’re not suggesting anything, but we bet Headey wished she had her own real-life “Mountain” to take out her enemies.
6 Lauryn Hill
Way before anyone had even heard of Beyoncé, Lauryn Hill was one of the undisputed queens of R&B and hip-hop. Whether performing with the Fugees or solo, Hill had an uncanny ability for churning out hit songs that were both catchy and meaningful. It’s too bad then that she decided to become a recluse and not pay her taxes.
While Hill was never really a big spender in the first place, her decision to scale back her touring and not release her recordings meant she had even less income streaming in. Then, between 2005 and 2007, she straight up refused to pay her taxes, claiming that pop culture’s “climate of hostility, false entitlement, manipulation, racial prejudice, sexism and ageism,” interfered with her creativity. While we admire Hill’s gusto for standing up for herself, the IRS didn’t quite feel the same way. In 2013, Hill was sentenced to three months imprisonment and she owed back taxes of $554,000. We guess this former Fugees hit-maker got killed softly with tax reform.
5 Bow Wow
Shad Gregory Moss—AKA Lil’ Bow Wow, AKA Bow Wow now that he’s grown up—was one of the fresh faces of rap in the early ’90s. Mentored by Snoop Dogg himself, Bow Wow had a promising music career in front of him and several acting credits under his belt before he was even old enough to vote!
Like most child stars transitioning into adulthood, however, Bow Wow soon found out that there is a cruel relationship between declining cuteness and monetary income. Despite staying mostly out of trouble during his teen years, dwindling interest in his music career and sporadic acting parts took their toll on his finances. In 2012, during an alimony hearing for failing to pay his baby mama $3,000 a month, Bow Wow testified that he only made $4,000 per month and had $1,500 in his checking account. But perhaps the biggest blow to his ego was when one airline passenger recently called him out on Twitter for sending a fake tweet that he was boarding a private jet when he was actually on a commercial flight.
4 Nicolas Cage
Remember that time when it was automatically assumed that any film Nicolas Cage was in would be box-office gold? To be honest, for a time it was. But like most celebs, Cage's spending habits also increased proportionately with his success.
Between 1996 and 2011, Cage spent over $150 million on a genuine dinosaur fossil, exotic pets, shrunken heads (yes, real ones), rare comic books, a Lamborghini once owned by the shah of Iran, private jets, rare artwork, his very own desert island and 15 properties located around the world. Cage’s spendthrift ways eventually caught up with him when the IRS slapped him a tax bill of $6.3 million in back property taxes. While such an amount would’ve been a walk in the park for him if he’d managed his money wisely, Cage was already facing foreclosure on several properties when the bill came and he’s been appearing in back-to-back straight-to-DVD movies to pay off his massive debts ever since. So don’t be like Nicolas Cage, people. Manage your expenses responsibly or your money might be gone in 60 seconds, too.
3 Wesley Snipes
Action star Wesley Snipes may have been able to single-handedly take on legions on undead vampires as Blade, but one enemy that he and many other actors could not slay was the dreaded IRS!
In 2006, the IRS charged Snipes and his financial managers of conspiring to dupe the US government by willfully filing false tax returns. After a two-year-long court battle, Snipes was acquitted on the felony conspiracy count, but was still found guilty on several other tax evasion charges. Snipes served his three-year sentence between 2011 and 2013. But even after his release he still owes the IRS $17.5 million in back taxes, which he is steadily paying off by taking roles in cheesy straight-to-DVD movies, much like his fellow cash-strapped actor Nicolas Cage. Perhaps the two of them can start their own action franchise like The Expendables, except they would be the “Untaxables,” get it?
2 Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson
When choosing his stage name, rapper Curtis Jackson probably shouldn’t have picked “50 Cent” as his moniker because that’s about all he was worth after filing for bankruptcy.
After experiencing a meteoric rise in the early 2000s, it seemed that 50 could do no wrong. He had endorsement deals up the wazoo and even his own clothing line. But 50’s penchant for dissing his enemies came back to bite him when he was hit with two huge multimillion-dollar lawsuits: one for releasing an authorized sex tape without the other party’s consent and another for copying a headphone manufacturer’s design. A combined debt of over $32 million forced 50 to file for bankruptcy in 2015, where he shamefully admitted in court that a lot of his luxury cars, private jets and jewelry were borrowed or rented. Although 50 has recently had a slight resurgence in fortune by investing in Bitcoin, we hope that he doesn’t ruin it all by running his mouth off again.
1 Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp’s movies have earned $8 billion worldwide and in 2012 he was the highest-paid actor in the world. So why is one of the world’s most bankable actors hustling to unload his assets to repay debts?
Depp and his independent accounting team lay the blame solely on his ex-business managers who he says mismanaged tens of millions of dollars. But a countersuit filed by Depp’s former managers claims that his own extravagant tastes are to blame. As of 2017, Depp owned 14 homes (including a castle and private islands), an $18 million yacht and 45 vehicles. It's also claimed that he spends about $30,000 a month on wine. When close friend Hunter S. Thompson passed away, Depp then dropped $3 million to shoot his ashes out of a cannon. (That’s one heck of a send-off!). While the suit is still pending and turning out to be a he-said-he-said scenario, we still recommend that the Captain Jack Sparrow actor tighten his purse strings for a while and lay it easy on his ever-expanding hat collection.
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