Stars Who Went From Riches To Rags (And Then Back Again For Some)

Some stars are all bling, no ka-ching.

From bad investments to purchasing dinosaur skulls, here's how these stars found themselves in financial trouble.


Mel B

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Mel B is the new poster girl for celebs who spent way too much and became broke. How much is too much? Roughly $68mil, or most of Scary Spice’s entire savings. That’s the figure she gave a court in Los Angeles during the June hearing of her divorce from ex-lover Stephen Belafonte, who played no small part in Mel B’s financial downfall. Her extravagant lifestyle included spoils like a fleet of super cars, including a $360,000 seven-seater Cadillac Escalade ESV (customised with bullet-and-bomb-proof plating and door handles that can deliver electric shocks), jewelry such as a $760,000 diamond ring, and branded bags (including four Birkins and dozens of Louis Vuitton). Oh, she also bought a private island ($1.8mil) for Belafonte so her family could “chill there”. We could go on forever…. Well, at least she’s still a judge on America’s Got Talent, a gig that pays $340,000 per episode. Now, just how will she make ends meet?

Charlie Young

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You might remember Hongkong actress Charlie Young’s star-studded 2013 wedding held at W Singapore. But did you know her marriage to her Singaporean hubby, Khoo Shao Tze, almost didn’t happen due in part to a failed business? In 1997, at the height of her popularity, Young left showbiz to set up an image consulting company with her future husband in Malaysia. But after seven years, the business failed, landing her in a mountain of debt and facing bankruptcy. It caused a rift in their relationship and the couple split up, and she announced her return to showbiz soon after. They rekindled their love in 2011 and the rest is happy history.

Jacelyn Tay

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In 2000, the then-25-year-old Ch 8 actress was declared bankrupt — she was sued by a local stockbroking firm for failing to settle a $300,000 debt, allegedly incurred from stock investment losses. After getting discharged from bankruptcy in 2004, Jace bounced back by releasing a couple of wellness books and became a health coach by founding her own health centre, Body Inc. and The Health Club.

Nicolas Cage

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Nick was once one of Hollywood’s top earners, and was worth some $207mil. But like his movies, his finances has been going down the drain because he’s also one of the biggest – and weirdest – spenders around. Sure, he splurged on the usual islands, castles, and airplanes. Among his most mind-boggling purchases is a $4.7 mil haunted house, shrunken pygmy heads, and a $400,000 dinosaur skull he outbid Leonardo DiCaprio for. But in 2009, he was beset by a series of tax lawsuits and unpaid multimillion-dollar loans, and accumulated $18mil worth of unpaid bills. To pay off his debts, he reportedly took “ [film] roles left and right”. He managed to save himself from bankruptcy and is now reportedly worth $55mil.

50 Cent

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In February, the rapper was discharged from bankruptcy after he managed to pay off $30mil of his $50mil debts. But how did 50 Cent, once worth over $200mil, get himself there? Firstly, law suits. He owed $9.7mil to a woman he allegedly leaked a sex tape of, just to embarrass his nemesis rapper Rick Ross, who was the victim’s partner. Then there’s the $25mil court-ordered payment to electronics company Sleek Audio, after a partnership to produce headphones fell through. Then there was 50 Cent’s $150,000 fixed monthly expenses, no thanks to his lavish 21-room mansion. Interestingly, after the bankruptcy charge, he posted an IG vid showing stacks of banknotes spelling out the word “broke”, which his lawyers said were prop money.

Johnny Depp

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While not (yet) bankrupt, the Pirates of the Caribbean star is wading in treacherous waters. A series of lawsuits with his ex-managers earlier this year revealed one of the most exorbitant lifestyles yet. $41,000 on wine, $200,000 on security, $276,000 on private planes and $414,000 to maintain a private staff of 40 people. He also allegedly spent more than $100mil to acquire 14 homes in France and $7mil to blast Hunter S. Thompson’s ashes out of a cannonball. His former reps, who he is embroiled in a legal battle with, told the court that his “sense of entitlement is clear and epic” and that “he has refused to live within his means…”

Lindsay Lohan

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After her successful career got obliterated  by a haze of drugs and alcohol ( one director even called  her “unbankable”), the wild child  is now officially in financial ruin. In addition to expensive cars, a multi-million dollar West Hollywood condo and her choosing to live  at an expensive hotel even though her condo was minutes away (that lifestyle choice costher $345,000), she also splurged on designer clothes and jewelry. In October last year, she faced bankruptcy for not paying $140,000 worth of rent while her ex-fiancé filed a police report against her for theft of his belongings valued at $43,000. 

Photo Credits: TPG/Clickphotos


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