Living the dream. It isn’t too far-fetched to think of the celebrity lifestyle as doing just that. Deep down, each and every one of us has probably had that deep-seated desire to become a celebrity, if not for the fame then in the very least to have that kind of money.
It can be unfathomable to consider how much a celebrity is worth—and, if you keep bankruptcy reports in mind, it can be just as incomprehensible to imagine just how much celebrities are accustomed to spending.
Here are a few celebrities who are better at spending money than they are at breathing.
1) Stop. Hammer time.
If you want to get hammered by the IRS, that is.
MC Hammer, better known to his creditors as Stanley Kirk Burrell, reportedly bought one too many pairs of parachute pants in 1996—that and 17 cars, an airplane, a record label, and a $30 million home on nearly 12 acres of land.
Plus, MC Hammer was known for spending as much as $500,000 a month on a crew as large as 200 people (did he buy parachute pants for each of them? Imagine the fashion atrocity that would be).
Despite earning $33 million in 1991 alone, 1996 really was hammer time. MC Hammer filed for bankruptcy with more than $14 million in debts.
2) Even a national treasure has limits to his spending budget.
No one told Nicholas Cage that, though. The Ghost Rider has yet to delve right into bankruptcy, but he has come pretty close—and his spending has been about as ludicrous as his acting, or at least as compulsive.
Houses, motorcycles, a jet, yachts (yes, plural), vintage cars, new cars, women—oh, I mean jewelry for the women in his life—the skull bones of a dinosaur, and, yes, even a pyramid—a funeral pyramid, to be specific—enough compulsive spending for even his stack of cash to be gone in sixty seconds.
The Hollywood icon had to Face Off with the IRS in 2007—for the fiscal year alone, Cage owed more than $6 million in unpaid taxes.
3) “Saturday night’s alright for fighting”…credit card bills, apparently.
Apparently you don’t get knighted for having financial sense—or at least Sir Elton John didn’t.
With a 37-Acre estate in Windsor, multiple U.K., America, and France properties, a fleet of 20 luxury cars, credit card bills that were rumored to top $400,000 each month, and a 20-month spending binge that involved B-B-B-Bennie and the Jettisoning $450,000 on flowers alone, the Rocket Man reportedly spent $55 million in 20 months—prior to filing for bankruptcy, of course.
Can you feel the love tonight? No, but your wallet probably can.
4) Life may be a lemon, but Meatloaf isn’t the only one who wants his money—so do his creditors.
And it’s all coming back to him now—well, everything but his money, that is. The only thing Meatloaf has had more run-ins with than bankruptcy is his list of lawsuits. With lawsuits against him by a former partner and assets frozen by angry managers, Meatloaf filed for bankruptcy in the mid-80s, owing more than $1.6 million in debt.
But while his money may keep leaving him like a bat out of hell, Meatloaf just won’t quit. He continues to sell out across the world and does enough cameos to make up for the poor financial decisions of the past.
5) How much does an average Bengal tiger cost—or three?
Mike Tyson isn’t just known for his boxing anymore. In 2003 he found himself in the clinch financially when he filed for bankruptcy—despite making $400 million over his 20-year boxing career.
Expensive jewelry—we’re talking one $173,706 gold chain expensive—extravagant parties, face tattoos, sports cars, and of course, lawyer fees; Mike Tyson is known for making purchases that amount to more than the average American’s annual salary.
Of course, his $114,000 purchase of three rare Bengal tigers tops the list for extravagant spending. In 2003 Tyson filed for bankruptcy with $23 million in debt.
6) How do you recover after filing for bankruptcy? Make a bankruptcy album.
Willie Nelson—we probably aren’t allowed to list the memorabilia he spent his cash on—filed for bankruptcy in 1990 with $16.7 million owed to the IRS. He recovered quickly enough though.
Releasing his aptly named album “The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories?” Willie Nelson was able to pay off his IRS debts within three years.
7) You can be half-immortal and you can slay evil vampires to defend the human race—but you can’t cheat the government.
Wesley Snipes, famously known as Blade from the 1998 self-titled film, was indicted in 2006 for tax evasion. He owed the government almost $12 million and ended up serving a brief prison stint.
But, hey, it’s hard to remember to pay your taxes when you are avenging your mother’s death and trying to rid the world of modern-day, technologically-advanced vampires. The tax man leaves no man behind.
8) Where did we go wrong? Maybe in that last purchase.
R&B singer-songwriter Toni Braxton certainly knows the ins and outs of filing for bankruptcy.
Braxton’s actually filed twice in the past five years—once in 2010 and once again in 2013. During her first bankruptcy, she claimed to owe close to $50 million, and yet, a mere six months after her latest bankruptcy, she purchased a $3 million home in California.
She may be able to un-break her heart, but she probably won’t be un-breaking her credit score any time soon.
9) She may not be superman, but she’s certainly a super-spender.
Janice Dickinson, known for her incredible modeling career and proclaimed to be the world’s first supermodel after coining the term during a conversation with her manager in 1979, filed for bankruptcy in 2013 with over $1 million in debt—much of which was owed to the government.
10) But, hey, some bankruptcy experiences are just plain productive.
Walt Disney’s first company, Laugh-O-Gram, filed for bankruptcy when his New York-based financial backers went broke in the 1920s.
Disney managed to scrape together enough cash to get to Hollywood, where he put his name on a new production company and began developing a new character—one inspired by a particularly personable mouse he had nearly tamed with bread crumbs in his New York office.
The Walt Disney Company is now worth close to $80 billion and is one of the largest companies in the world—and it all started with a bankruptcy claim and a mouse infestation.