Celebrities Who Were Bankrupt but Turned It Around

By Christine J. Flores, CBA

It never ceases to amaze me that someone who makes a very high income can end up making decisions that land them in a black hole of serious debt.  In some cases, the celebrity lives a lavish lifestyle well beyond his wealth.  In other cases we’ve looked at, an entrepreneur just needs time to discover the secret to success.  Here are a few more individuals whose financial stories I hope you find interesting.

Michael Jackson – At the time of Michael Jackson’s death, his net worth was estimated to be around $500 million.  But his lavish and extravagant lifestyle apparently led to the loss of most of that fortune.  He was reportedly loaned $380 million to finance his lifestyle.  The King of Pop also had a taste for exquisite and extraordinary things, including a pet chimpanzee.  However, since his death in 2009, Michael Jackson’s estate has made more than $2 billion.  His music continues to be popular and has generated a huge amount of income.  The earnings in 2020 alone are reported at $48 million.  The money earned after Jackson’s death is much higher than what he earned while he was alive.  His three children have apparently become richer than he ever was after inheriting the fortune.

Dave Ramsey – Some of you may recognize the name of Dave Ramsey, the financial author and radio personality who offers financial advice.  He hosts a nationally syndicated radio program and has written several books on budgeting, beating debt, and investing.  Mr. Ramsey found it necessary to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in order to gain a fresh start that allowed him to carve out a new path to success after finding himself struggling with overwhelming debt.  Apparently, the advice he currently gives out is to consider filing for bankruptcy protection only as a last resort.

John Wayne – Actor John Wayne reportedly lost his life savings twice, to people he trusted.  During World War II, John Wayne hired Bo Roos to be his business manager.  Mr. Roos apparently came highly recommended by the likes of Joan Crawford, the Andrews Sisters, and Marlene Dietrich.  They became friends as well as having a business relationship, and the actor thought his manager would protect his assets, and perhaps even make it grow.  By the 1950s John Wayne learned that an investment Bo Roos made for him went sour.  Wayne also lost $1.7 million in an investment in Panama that was arranged by Mr. Roos.  The business manager’s gross mismanagement caused John Wayne to lose all of the money he had at that point.  After that experience, John Wayne decided to trust his son-in-law to manage his finances.  It turns out that the trusted son-in-law had invested in bad real estate and dry oil wells among other things.  Apparently, John Wayne was so trusting that he did not check his financial statements or take personal involvement in the investments that were being made.  There is probably a lesson here for all of us.

Categorized in: