50 Cent's Bankruptcy and 7 Other Fallen Stars

15 July 2015 -


This week, rapper 50 Cent declared himself bankrupt. He isn’t the first – and won’t be the last – celebrity to fall on (apparently) hard times. Meet seven other surprising bankruptcies from music, sport, fashion and business.

Jermaine Haughton

It seems 50 Cent has barely a dollar to his name, after the Grammy-award winning rapper filed for bankruptcy protection, according to reports.

The artist, real name Curtis James Jackson III, issued papers in the US Bankruptcy Court in Hartford, Connecticut this week, reporting that he has assets and debts in the range of $10m to $50m (£6.5m- £32m), according to the Wall Street Journal.

The performer-turned-entrepreneur has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as it allows a corporation to stay in business while it restructures and attempts to reduce its debt.

The revelation arose just days after a jury ruled Jackson must pay £3.2m to Lavonia Leviston suing over a sex tape the rapper had posted online.

Publicly, the 40-year-old took the bankruptcy in good spirits, as he posted a picture on Instagram of him next to a tiny blue Smart car in a car park and wrote alongside the pic: "Times are hard out here LMAO#EFFENVODKA #FRIGO #SMSAUDIO." (Source)

These financial problems are just the latest event in the rapper’s dramatic rise and fall over the past decade. Bursting onto the music scene in 2003 with his debut album Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ the New York-native sold more than 30 million albums worldwide and won several awards.  

In May, Forbes estimated 50 Cent's net worth at nearly £100m. He used his profile to venture into the business world, investing in a series of projects, including VitaminWater, which netted him up to £50m after it was sold to Coca Cola in 2007. (Source)

But he is not alone in his spectacular fall from grace. Many other public figures have fallen on similar, ahem, hard times. Here are seven other surprising celebrity bankruptcies:

1. Lady Gaga

The Born This Way singer went bankrupt during her 2009 Monsters Ball tour. Gaga, worth more than £50m in 2013, explained: "I had $3m (£1.9m) in the bank to my name and I threw it all in to make my stage. So I was bankrupt during the show. I remember I went home and I was with my dad and he said: 'I don't understand. Bad Romance is out. You are all over the radio. Everyone is talking about you and you don't have a pot to p*** in’.”

The investment did eventually pay off when the tour caught the attention of Live Nation Entertainment CEO Arthur Fogel, who signed the artist for £25m to relaunch the Monster Ball tour. It went on to become the highest-grossing ever by a debut headlining artist. (Source)

2. Donald Trump

Long before his campaign to succeed Barack Obama as the next president of the United States, the billionaire real estate developer’s companies have filed for bankruptcy on four occasions. In 1991, The Apprentice star’s Taj Mahal in Atlantic City needed refinancing to pay back construction bills; only a year later, Trump had to give up a 49% stake in the Trump Plaza Hotel in Atlantic City to its creditors, having accrued debts of £352m.

Although Trump’s personal fortune was never regarded bankrupt, Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts filed for bankruptcy in 2004 with debts of £1.1bn, and in 2009 Trump Entertainment Resorts had to be declared bankrupt after the firm missed a £34m bond interest payment. (Source)

3. Stan Lee

While Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk and The X-Men have raked in billions for Hollywood studios over the past decade, their creator was declared bankrupt in 2001. Stan Lee, the founder of Marvel and mastermind behind the comic book heroes, fell into financial trouble at the turn of the millennium as his web-based comic book venture Stan Lee Media failed to gain strong revenue and profits.

In the midst of the dotcom crisis, the company ran out of operating capital and had to close operations entirely in December 2000. Lee’s business later filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection, while his co-founder Peter Paul was accused of securities fraud and sentenced to ten years in jail in October 2009. (Source)

4. George Foreman

The former heavyweight-boxing champion George Foreman filed for bankruptcy in the late 1980s having squandered millions earned during his illustrious career, including the legendary “Rumble in the Jungle” fight against Muhammad Ali in 1974. During a long layoff from the sport in the 1980s, Foreman had spent much of his fortune, forcing him to declare bankruptcy and make a return to the ring in 1987.

To the disbelief of his critics, Foreman made his comeback in the money-spinning pay-per-view bout with Evander Holyfield and eventually became the oldest heavyweight champion in history in 1993 at the age of 45. Since then, he has become the face of Russell Hobbs Inc.’s George Foreman Grill, and his endorsement of the lean-mean-grilling-machine led to sales of over 100 million units in 15 years. (Source)

5. Sean Quinn

Ranked as the richest businessman in Ireland in 2008, Quinn lost his £3.3bn fortune as a result of the financial crisis and was declared bankrupt just three years later. The self-made businessman built up a 25% stake investing in Anglo Irish Bank but the gamble backfired during the banking crisis, as his shares sank in value and the bank was bailed out by taxpayers in 2009. The Irish Banking Resolution Corporation (IBRC), the national owners of the bank, claim the Quinn family owes the former bank more than £1.56bn and has tried to recover the money from their assets. (Source)

6. Tommy Hilfiger

At just 25, the fledgling clothing retailer was forced to file for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, despite having his jeans store People’s Place present all over New York State on college campuses. Hilfiger said: “We went bankrupt. I was devastated. I was embarrassed. I had started with nothing and worked so hard, and we were so close to making it really big, but I had taken my eye off the ball. I believed that the business would just continue to do well. But it didn’t, because I wasn’t paying attention to the ‘business’ part of the business.”

Learning from his mistakes, Hilfiger assiduously created his own brand of jeans in 1985, which just 15 years later recorded sales of $1bn. (Source)

7. Toni Braxton

The six-time Grammy Award winner has filed for bankruptcy on several occasions. Most recently, Braxton was able to reach a deal with creditors at the bankruptcy court in 2013 to resolve her financial woes, including a £96,000 debt for property and performances.

In fact, as far back as 1998, Braxton had previously filed for bankruptcy with debts of £2.7m. The songstress’s financial problems saw her fail to purchase the copyright for 27 of her own songs, including How Many Ways and Always as her £12,000 auction bid was trumped by a little known buyer in 2013. (Source)

Image courtesy of Everett Collection / Shutterstock.

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