15 Musicians Who Went Broke

10. Michael Jackson

Despite being one of the world’s most recognizable and beloved pop stars, selling millions of records in his lifetime and owning the rights to the lucrative Beatles’ catalogue which provided him with a steady income, Michael Jackson was in a shocking $500 million in debt at the time of his death.

The King of Pop had long been known for his lavish spending and shelled out $14.6 million to purchase his famous Neverland Ranch in 1988. However, his financial woes are thought to have begun in 1993 when Jackson made a $22 million payout to the parents of a 13-year-old-boy who was allegedly molested by the singer. Jackson was also famous for his lavish shopping habits, as depicted in the 2003 Martin Bashir documentary which showed Jackson spending $6 million at a single store.

Hoping that a comeback would solve his money problems, Jackson was preparing for a world tour at the time of his death and reportedly could have earned up to $500 million if he’d lived to make it happen.

11. Courtney Love

Perhaps better known for her role as Kurt Cobain’s widow than she is for her own music, Hole lead singer Courtney Love has struggled in the years since her husband’s suicide in 1994. Although she has yet to file for bankruptcy, Love apparently has been leaving a trail of unpaid bills and lawsuits in her wake.


In 2009, Love was told to start forking over a settlement for a Twitter defamation case that eventually added up to $430,000 once the installments were completed in 2014. In 2010, Love was sued by American Express who claimed the rocker owed a whopping $352,000 in unpaid credit card bills and the case was later settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. Also in 2010, Love was sued for failing to return $114,000 worth of borrowed bling from jeweler Jacobson & Co, which was settled again for an undisclosed amount. Most recently Love was sued by an addiction psychiatrist who claimed that Love owed him almost $50,000 in session fees.

A word to the wise: don’t loan money, provide services or get even remotely involved with Courtney Love.

Joe Seer / Shutterstock.com

Joe Seer / Shutterstock.com

12. Cat Power

Sadly, critical acclaim and indie cred don’t always translate into cold hard cash. Long-time indie darling Cat Power (aka Chan Marshall) has been wowing audiences and critics alike for over twenty years and achieved the impossible in 2012 when her indie album Sun landed on Billboard Top Ten. Sadly that same year, Power, who had been struggling with both financial and health problems, was forced to cancel her much anticipated European tour and declare bankruptcy.

“I had my house in foreclosure and I hadn’t paid taxes in two years,” the singer admitted to Pitchfork. Cat Power seems to be doing better since her rough patch and while she says she still doesn’t have a lot of money, she was able to hire a personal assistant which is something poor people definitely don’t do, and has continued to tour. However she did recently cancel a 2016 Australian tour again citing poor health. Get well soon, CP!

Christian Bertrand / Shutterstock.com

Christian Bertrand / Shutterstock.com

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