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Bankruptcy Happens to Celebrities, Too


Bankruptcy Happens to Celebrities, Too

Most of us equate celebrities, either those who are on the silver screen or whose music populates our iPhones, with money and wealth. We even get these images in our minds of how exciting it must be to not worry about budgeting for this week’s trip to the grocery store, right? It’s not always that way, though. In fact, celebrities file bankruptcies as often as the secretary, construction worker or television reporter.

2012 Bankruptcies

In 2008, when those faint whispers were being mumbled across the nation, complete with frightening words like, “recession”, “foreclosures” and “job losses”, it was a given that the number of bankruptcies filed would rise proportionately. And they did. The alarm bells continued right through 2009, into 2010 and by 2011, lawmakers kept a close eye on the numbers, hoping to see a decline.

By 2012, the number of bankruptcy cases filed in federal courts around the country dropped by an impressive 14 percent. The total number filed was slightly more than 1.25 million. Just a year earlier, that total was close to 1.7 million bankruptcy filings, according to the e- Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

Business Bankruptcy

The number of bankruptcies filed by consumers dropped; it makes sense, then, that the number of business bankruptcies saw a decline, as well. In 2011, there were 49,895 business filings and in 2012, that number was down to 42,008. That’s a 16 percent drop.

So just how well do celebrities weather those financial storms? We plundered around to see what we could find. You might be surprised to learn who files bankruptcy in Beverly Hills. Take a look:

Man in a Not So Gold Hat

Who knew there were bankruptcy options in the 1600s? Even we were surprised to stumble across that gem. Artists, by nature, like the adjective “starving” placed before the word “artist”. Some like the brooding approach and say it’s part of their charm, but when you’re Rembrandt Haremenszoon, it goes even further than a face you wear in public. In 1656, and at the age of 50, he sought out legal representation to assist him in breaking free from his debts (and yes, again, we were surprised to learn that there similar dynamics in the legalities between today and the 1600s). He used many of his paintings as his currency. Eventually, he’d also have to sell his house to cover those debts.

Now, here’s where things break away from then and now. He was allowed to continue painting, but he could no longer earn a living from those efforts. How folks supported themselves after bankruptcy those centuries ago is a mystery. Rembrandt, being the resourceful sort of fellow that he was, circumvented that rule by putting all of his financial interests into his son’s name (maybe that’s where that tradition begun?).

The Adventures of…

Yes, that Samuel Langhorne Clemens – you may know him by his pen name, Mark Twain. In 1894, the good author found himself with overwhelming debt. Part of his slide from financial grace was due to his investment into a machine named the Paige Compositor. Clemens then made it his mission to repay every single debt, even though he was not legally required to do so. At that point, he took a break from his passion and began to tour Europe as a famous lecturer from the states. Within a couple of couple of years, he was able to repay every dime. When that was finished, he then returned to writing. Who doesn’t love a story about redemption?

U Can’t Touch This – or Can You?

MC Hammer is the high energy singer and dancer who made his name in the late 1980s. Unfortunately, and due to management teams that did not look out for his best interests, Hammer, whose real name is Stanley Burrell, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

He Can’t A “Ford” It

Even those who have more money than the entire state they live in can find themselves unable to meet their financial commitments. Perhaps there’s no better example of that than what we find in the Henry Ford story. Did you know his first two automobile manufacturing companies failed miserably? Not only that, but he filed bankruptcy twice in his life. Both were business bankruptcies with the second one being filed when he was 40 years old. Like Clemens, he managed to pick up the pieces and move forward. His efforts paid off because the Ford Motor Company is one of the biggest manufacturing companies in the world.

His Apprentice Days

Yes, we mean Donald Trump. One of the wealthiest people in the world. The one who has hit TV shows and regular speaking opportunities with the media. That Donald Trump. Before Trump Towers and countless divorces (though he was generous each time to the exes), there existed the Trump casino empire. He might should have bailed on those efforts sooner because after his initial 1992 organization bankruptcy, he turned around and filed bankruptcy again on his casinos. He finally figured it out and today, he serves as proof that one kick in the teeth shouldn’t keep anyone down.

Bankruptcy or financial worries as a whole can result in sleepless nights and can even result in physical ailments. Even in our most rational minds, we know that we’re not alone, but when you’re in the middle of a financial crisis, it can be quite isolating. There’s the embarrassment and stigmas from a society that is filled with folks who’ve had their own share of financial problems. Still, it remains one of those topics not discussed in front of the kids and carefully hidden so that the neighbors don’t find out.

Bankruptcies are public notices, so there’s always the risk of seeing their name in their local newspapers. That alone is enough to send anyone’s blood pressure through the roof. It shouldn’t be that way, of course, but human nature is hokey like that. For those who can gain a bit of perspective and recognize that even the ones deemed most successful can find themselves in similar situations with the same solutions. If you’ve ever filed, you know it’s a mixed bag of emotions. You look forward to getting the burden lifted, but you sure hate that it has to be that way.

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