A Boom and Then a Bust: Celebrities Who Went Bankrupt

In 2013, there were over 1,071,932 bankruptcy filings in the United States. Of those bankruptcy cases, 8,980 were Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings, which usually means that it is a business or partnership filing. But, as any bankruptcy lawyer can tell you, the vast majority of cases are individuals filing for themselves. Check out this list of high-profile, famous people who couldn’t handle their money.

M.C. Hammer: Once upon a time, Forbes estimated that M.C. Hammer’s net worth reached $33 million, but that all came tumbling down in 1996, when he filed for bankruptcy due to his too luxurious lifestyle and huge staff (costing around $13 million).

Burt Reynolds: Alongside M.C. Hammer was Burt Reynolds, who was driven into bankruptcy after his failed restaurant venture and costly divorce from Loni Anderson.

Larry King: In the early and mid-1970s, Larry King had managed to collect $352,000 in debt, especially after being publicly accused of grand larceny, by no one less than his former business partner. He was offered his eponymous show the very year (1978) in which he filed for bankruptcy.

Mark Twain: The famous and iconic American writer Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) did get fairly rich from his published works, but he made some seriously bad investments that sunk him deep into debt. Before he declared bankruptcy in 1894, he assigned his copyrights to his wife and got rid of his publishing house.

Ulysses S. Grant
Once the legendary president left Washington, he settled down in New York and invested a large chunk of his money into a Wall Street firm, of which his son was one of the owners. His son’s other partner, unfortunately, embezzled a lot of its investors’ money, causing the company to have to declare bankruptcy — Grant soon followed.

People have been declaring bankruptcy in America for almost 200 years at this point, and it doesn’t look like an institution that is likely to go away. Indeed, as long as personal wealth can accrue and the free market remains, people will become bogged down with debts and expenses. And it doesn’t always mean that a person was irresponsible with their money, either — bankruptcies resulting from unpaid medical bills affected an estimated 2 million people in the United States during 2013. If you find yourself wondering how to file for bankruptcy, don’t hesitate to contact a bankruptcy lawyer today.