50 Cent and Eight Other Celebrities Who Have Declared Bankruptcy

Ryan Bhandari  |

In the wake of today’s news that rapper and businessman 50 Cent is declaring bankruptcy after being thought to have a net worth of $155 million, we here at Equities.com thought it would be interesting to highlight some other high-profile celebrities that have declared bankruptcy in the past.

As for 50 Cent, the rapper was forced to declare bankruptcy because of a court order requiring him to pay $5 million in damages to Lastonia Leviston. To make a long (and lascivious) story short: 50 Cent released a sex tape of Ms. Leviston with another man without her consent and narrated the entire video with offensive comments. Ms. Leviston has a child with Rick Ross, and 50 Cent has been in a longstanding feud with Ross. Leviston claims that the sex tape caused her tremendous emotional distress and even made her suicidal at one point.

Many people have speculated that 50 Cent is declaring bankruptcy to try to delay his payment to Leviston. By going through the process of bankruptcy, he can buy himself time to come up with the money. He also may be trying to force Ms. Leviston into accepting a smaller payment by making her wait until his bankruptcy proceedings get resolved to get paid. Whatever the reason, 50 Cent joins a long list of celebrities who have declared bankruptcy for any number of reasons. Let’s rundown some of the most notable…

Donald Trump

2016 Republican presidential candidate and business tycoon Donald Trump likes to tout his success in business as a reason he would be a good president, but The Donald has actually declared corporate bankruptcy four times: in 1991, 1992, 2004, and 2009. To get these bankruptcies approved though, Trump had to give up Trump Airlines, a mega-yacht, and a 50% stake in the Grand Hyatt Hotel. His net worth is still over $2 billion though, because he kept his personal money separate from his business money.

Michael Jackson

Before his death in 2009, Michael Jackson was considered the most successful entertainer of all time. However, in 2007, he filed for personal bankruptcy when he couldn’t pay back a $25 million loan on his Neverland Ranch. The ranch was purchased for $17 million in 1988 and Michael spent tens of millions constructing an amusement park, a zoo, a movie theater, a railroad line, a helicopter, and its very own fire department!

Mike Tyson

Tyson was at one time the most feared boxer in the world. Over the course of his boxing career, he earned more than $400 million. However, his luxurious lifestyle and a very expensive divorce forced him to file for bankruptcy in 2003 after he couldn’t pay debts of $27 million.

Willie Nelson

Country music star Willie Nelson declared bankruptcy in 1990, owing the IRS $16.7 million in unpaid taxes and fees. Nelson was able to structure a plan to pay the IRS back over three years and even released an album called, “The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories?” The album was a success and Nelson managed to pay back the IRS by 1993.


Meatloaf is a popular singer from the 1980’s who sold over 70 million records. He fired his managers in 1981 after he found out they were stealing his money and the managers retaliated by threatening him with breach of contract. In 1986, Meatloaf filed for bankruptcy with $1.6 million in debt. In order to pay off the debt, he released another album in 1986, but it didn’t sell well at all and Meatloaf had to declare bankruptcy again.

Larry King

Former CNN talk show host Larry King actually filed for bankruptcy all the way back in 1978 because he owed $352,000 in debt that he couldn’t pay. This is before Larry King had established a name for himself. Seven years later, in 1985, CNN debuted “Larry King Live” and King was able to pay off his debts relatively quickly.

Gary Coleman

Gary Coleman filed for bankruptcy in 1999 after his manager and his parents spent most of his money. At the time, he owed $72,000 and couldn’t pay it. Coleman, as a child actor, had amassed $8 million in trust funds. By the time he had access to that money though, Coleman realized he only had $200,000 left. Coleman, unfortunately, passed away in 2010 after battling a variety of health issues.

Gary Busey

Last, but not least, we have Gary Busey. Known for his eccentric and unique personality, the actor declared bankruptcy in 2012, citing debts between $500 thousand a $1 million and assets of around $50,000. Considering that Busey has starred in over 70 movies throughout his career, the fact that he only had $50,000 to his name is pretty astounding.


Among all the people listed above who have declared bankruptcy, all of them made it through and came out the other side. That’s the good news for 50 Cent. The bad news is that he’s still on the hook for $5 million in damages and perhaps even further punitive damages.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer



Symbol Last Price Change % Change










Can the Media Solve the Partisan Conflict?

Andrew McCarthy, Contributing Editor, The National Review; Michael Zeldin, CNN Legal Analyst; Celeste Katz, Senior Political Reporter, Glamour; Silvia Davi, SVP, Contributing Editor, Equities.com; and Doug Simon, CEO, D S Simon Media discuss how the media’s role has shaped the landscape for communicators and what the media is trying to do to reduce discord in society.

Emerging Growth


Nxt-ID Inc provides products, solutions, and services that have a need for biometric secure access control. Its lines of business include mobile commerce; law enforcement and biometric access control applications…