The past few years have been tough for the country as a whole financially, and millionaires haven't been exempt. According to the National Bankruptcy Research Center, the number of people who filed for bankruptcy with more than $1 million in assets skyrocketed by 73% between 2008 and 2009. Bankruptcy isn't a foreign notion for celebrity millionaires, past and present. We'll look at some millionaires who have struggled to keep their fortunes and a few that have been frequent visitors to the bankruptcy court.
Donald Trump Turns Bankruptcy Into An Art
"The Donald" is well-known for amassing major real estate holdings and holding court on NBC-TV's "The Apprentice." But he's also something of a legend in bankruptcy court. Totaling the bankruptcies of business interests bearing his name along with personal declarations, Trump has been involved in four filings. The most recent was 2009, when Trump Entertainment Resorts (which Trump insists he is only affiliated with by name only) filed for Chapter 11. In 2004, Trump's Trump Hotel & Casino Resorts went under due to enormous past due loans. In 1992, Trump's Trump Plaza filed for bankruptcy after missing payments. And finally, Trump's first round with bankruptcy court goes back to when his Atlantic City Taj Mahal pushed him more than $1 million in the red - a seemingly paltry amount compared to the later filings.
Good At Politics, Bad At Business
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, filed for bankruptcy not just once, but twice. Lincoln's business adventures left him strapped with debt, along with loans from friends and family that he took seventeen years to pay off. Fortunately he persevered to leave a better legacy as a politician than a debtor. He was not the only President to meet with financial failure. The 18th President, Ulysses S. Grant, and the 25th President, William McKinley, both filed for bankruptcy as well.
Living Like A King
This TV broadcast king and talk show host Larry King hasn't always enjoyed financial success. Early in his career he enjoyed a lifestyle that ran far richer than his bank account, causing him to plow through his cash and amass enormous debts. King filed for bankruptcy in 1978, to get out from under it all. He went on to re-establish his career and rebuild his portfolio. Currently Larry King's net worth is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $144 million - not a bad rebound!
Money Changes Everything
Today, Cyndi Lauper's hit, "True Colors," can be heard on radios, and in elevators and grocery stores worldwide. In 1981, the only color Cyndi was seeing was red. Without a hit song, she had already had hit rock bottom financially and filed for bankruptcy. She met manager David Wolff shortly afterward, and he helped her break into stardom with her first album, "She's So Unusual." The rest is pop icon history.
Can't Touch This?
Rap star MC Hammer took the music world by storm in 1990, with hits like "U Can't Touch This." But he burned through his newly-amassed $33 million fortune quickly thanks to lavish spending and an oversized entourage. He filed for bankruptcy in 1996 with debts of more than $10 million. Hammer pared back on spending and sent his professional groupies packing. Today he is the executive producer of the reality show, "Hammertime," on A&E.
The Speculative Misadventures Of Mark Twain
The well-known author Samuel Clemens was a far better writer under his pen name of Mark Twain than he was an investor. He filed for bankruptcy in 1894, after sinking a significant amount of his personal fortune into a publishing firm and a typesetting invention. A true southern gentleman, Twain repaid his creditors in full just four years later. The experience benefited his reading public as well. The financial failure shaped his successful novel, "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court." As Twain, Clemens also gave us the famous investing quote, "October: This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February."
Slugger Gets Slugged By Debt
Jack Clark, nicknamed "The Ripper," was a Boston Red Sox star pulling down $8.7 million when he filed for bankruptcy in 1992. It was his off-the-field spending sprees - including 18 luxury cars - and bad investments that took him down financially. Today, the outspoken ball player is manager of the Springfield Sliders in the collegiate Prospect League.
On Thin Ice
Dorothy Hamill was well-known for winning Olympic gold at the 1976 games in ice-skating - and spinning off a signature hairstyle adopted by young girls worldwide. Sadly, Hamill didn't experience a similar level of success financially. Her off-the-rink investment coaching caused her to lose her fortune and forced her to file for bankruptcy in 1996. This resulted in her losing ownership of the world-famous Ice Capades. Today, Hamill continues to skate professionally and has authored her second memoir, "Dorothy Hamill: A Skating Life."
The best lesson to take away from these famous busts is that bankruptcy is not the end. It's possible to rebuild and thrive. Haircuts like Dorothy Hamill's and Donald Trumps are not requirements for coming back after bankruptcy, but there might be a correlation worth testing. Who knows? (Find out how to rebuild your financial life in, Life After Bankruptcy.)