These Stars Were Rich In Life But Died Broke

The entertainment industry is as lucrative as it gets. Music, acting, and art can provide the geniuses in those fields with deep pockets. How these entertainers choose to use their earnings is their decision. The choices that Judy Garland and Marvin Gaye made while they were alive and thriving are the same reasons why they were broke when they passed away. Let’s dive in and learn how some of the most prominent celebrities died poor. It might make you reconsider how you handle your finances.

The King Of Pop Owed A Pretty Penny

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Michael Jackson’s impact on music is undeniable. That statement is especially true if you separate his personal life issues from the music he made. Jackson was the first artist to have an album achieve multiplatinum status 30 times (Thriller). The cash flow was there but so was the IRS.

When Jackson passed away in 2009, reports said he owed nearly 500 million dollars, and his estate went bankrupt. Owing half of a billion in taxes is not the way you want to go out.

Addiction Punishished Veronica Lake

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Veronica Lake moved to Beverly Hills after high school to become the actress she knew she could be. She earned her money by acting in several big films like Sullivan’s Travels and So Proudly We Hail! But the success wouldn’t last long.

As she started to appear in less appreciated films, Lake turned to liquor and threw away her money on alcohol and other senseless purchases. Lake passed away at 50, in poverty.

Up next, a childhood sensation falls hard.

Corey Haim Files Bankruptcy

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Corey Haim started young in Hollywood. At 13, the Canadian actor landed his first prominent role and would go on to appear in several different films in the ’80s. Lucas and Silver Bullet are some of the most notable films he appeared in. When Haim grew older, he became addicted to Valium, and he made disastrous financial decisions.

Haim eventually filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. At 38, Haim met his maker while living at his mother house. Haim’s funds were so low when he died; his family reportedly asked his fans to help cover the expenses for the funeral.

Marvin Gaye Pays Up To His Wife

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Marvin Gaye was a legendary R&B song maker. He used his incredible voice to tackle social and political issues through his music. Gaye captured a few Grammy and American Music Awards during his career. All the while, Gaye made terrible money decisions.

When you’re bad with money, frequently buying drugs doesn’t help. And to make matters worse, Gaye owed his wife 600,000 dollars in alimony. To cover that, he gave her the rights to his album Here, My Dear. Tax troubles had him on the run in Europe, so most of his money royalties went to his failed marriage and taxes. By the time he passed away, Gaye was broke.

Tesla Had A Costly Beef With Thomas Edison

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Nikola Tesla is responsible for some of the greatest technological advancements our world has seen. But creations like AC electricity and wireless technology weren’t enough to keep his pockets lined before he died. Thomas Edison didn’t help with that either.

Edison offered Tesla 50,000 dollars in exchange for his works on currents but backed out of that deal. Mix that in with Tesla’s inability to make wise business relationships, he ended up forced to live in a hotel. Tesla died in 1943 with no money.

This next musician made millions with Frank Sinatra

Davis Falls Into The Cycle

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Sammy Davis Jr. was talented in many fields. His voice made him the majority of his millions. Davis was a part of the Rat Pack group with others like Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, but as many artists do, Davis fell victim to drugs. Drugs weren’t his only problem; he also lived too lavishly.

The international star passed away in 1990 with throat cancer, and that’s when his estate got sold. It was sold it due to a 5.2 million dollar tax bill and because he was in thousands of dollars of debt.

Dorothy Clicked Her Heels Into Debt

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Judy Garland is most well-known as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. The little girl who was transported from her home in Kansas couldn’t get away from her drug and financial problems that quickly. Her career was a success, so that meant more funds for drugs.

She passed away in 1969 and had built up $4,000,000 in debt. The IRS repossessed her home after her alleged accidental drug overdose. The musicals and films she starred in weren’t enough to overcome her issues.

Holiday Dies With 750 Dollars To Her Name

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An all-time great jazz singer, Billie Holiday was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame posthumously in 2000. The late singer fell victim to drug and alcohol-related problems before her death in 1959. There is one thing she never got to live through unlike other musicians on this list.

She never got the chance to experience the fancy lifestyle. She grew up impoverished and around call girls before she signed her record deal. Reports are she passed away with only $750 to her name.

Coleman Had Serious Health Issues

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Gary Coleman’s name is synonymous with one phrase: “whatchu’ talkin’ bout’ Willis?” The former actor’s career took off when he starred in the series Diff’rent Strokes. He was even NBC’s highest paid comedic actor at one point. Sadly, Coleman had reoccurring health issues and didn’t manage his money right throughout his career.

Coleman would later sue his family for $1.3 million, but he exhausted that money within a decade dealing with his health. When he died in 2010, the 42-year-old was nearly penniless.

Next, one of the most beautiful girls in Europe.

Hedy Lamarr Had Six Failed Marriages

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They don’t label someone the most beautiful person in a continent for no reason. Hedy Lamarr had the title of most beautiful girl Europe back in her day, and her role in the movie Ecstasy helped with that. She displayed full frontal nudity, which at the time (the ’40s and ’50s) was controversial.

We should also mention how she went through six divorces which hurt her financial situation substantially. When Lamarr died of natural causes in 2000, she was completely broke.

Parker Develops Bebop, Dies Poor

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Charlie Parker was widely successful in the 20th century. The jazz musician played the saxophone in various groups but also was a solo artist. Parker was known for his improvisation skills and his ability to play abnormally fast tempos.

Parker and Dizzy Gillespie created the jazz style called bebop. Although he gained a lot in his short life, he died with almost nothing to his name at the age of 34. You can find his name in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

This Master Artist Only Sold One Painting


Vincent Van Gogh had a short life, but he still managed to create 2,000 pieces of art. He was ahead of his time, and his paintings went highly underappreciated. But the total number of works he sold while alive is one. His brother bought it.

Van Gogh is now revered as one of the best artists to have lived but because it wasn’t like that when he was alive, he took matters into his own hands. He ended his own life broke, with a note saying “I can’t change the fact that my paintings don’t sell. But the time will come when people will recognize that they are worth more than the value of the paints used in the picture.”

Rooney Lasted 90 Years With Nothing To Show For It

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The late actor Mickey Rooney had one of the longest runs in entertainment history. Throughout his 90-year tenure, Rooney married eight times. He also earned two Golden Globes while alive.

When he passed away, there wasn’t enough money in his bank account to pay for the funeral. He had $18,000 left, and that went to his stepson, Mark Aber. That’s all he had to show for 90 years.

Bela Lugosi Ended Up Being Typecast

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Bela Lugosi is frequently identified as Dracula, thanks to starring in the 1931 horror film. He became a sensation instantly. But as fast as his money came, it also went away just as quickly.

Thanks to his drug and alcohol problem, Lugosi blew his money swiftly. And Hollywood didn’t help after producers relegated him to horror films. He never could match his Dracula success, and that made things worse. He died with $1,900 in the bank.

The Youngest Bee Gee Falls To Cocaine

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The Bee Gees are an iconic group. Their youngest member, Andy Gibb, had enough money to have a life filled with whatever he wanted, but temptation took over. The young musician turned to cocaine abuse that destroyed his personal and financial growth.

There was a point where he spent $1,000 a day on drugs alone. When he passed away in 1988 at only 30 years old, he owed millions to bill collectors and managers.

Bad Investments Knock Out Joe Louis

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Heavyweight boxer Joe Louis was the world’s longest-reigning heavyweight champion. The span of his run lasted 12 years from 1937 to 1949. As one could imagine, your net worth will rise if you continue to be the best in your field. His gross income in his best days totaled $4.6 million.

When he died, Louis was in debt. Tax problems, bad investments, and overall bad financial choices knocked out his bank account. Perhaps a better agent could have assisted him in these areas.

Prison Took This Author’s Money

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Many people who create art and author books get overlooked. Oscar Wilde was lucky because his work got noticed promptly. Wilde lived in the 1800s and is best-known for his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. He also wrote a famous play called “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

But like many good things, Wilde’s success would come to an end. He was sent to prison for two years where he lost all his money. Wilde passed away in 1900 due to meningitis.

Peter Pan Gets Jail Time

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The story about Bobby Driscoll is sad a sad one. Best known as the voice of the beloved Disney character Peter Pan, Driscoll got his start early. The early beginning only meant more chances for things to wrong, and that’s what happened.

He went to jail for illegal drug use. That stigma then followed him, making it hard for Driscoll to land any roles in Hollywood. He died broke at 31 and was found with no identification in New York. He was interred in an unmarked grave.

Another Artist Recognized Too Late

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Like Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Allen Poe was significantly underrated during his time. He is now credited with bringing the detective genre to the forefront. Many of his pieces included horror, suspense, and mystery.

The work he put in back then didn’t get appreciated until much later. His piece The Raven is a hot commodity these days but didn’t bring in any money in the 1800s. Poe ended a poor, dead artist.

Dickinson Flew Under The Radar

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Many poets are introverts. This was true for Emily Dickinson. She lived a quiet life during which she wrote more than a thousand poems. However, only a few of them were published (anonymously at that), so she wasn’t getting much money.

Her poems came to light only after she passed away in 1886. Her family found 40 volumes of poems that she had put together. Amherst College ended up buying her family’s home and made it into a museum.