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5 Famous People Who Died Broke

Fame – it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, at least for some. Despite becoming household names, after a lifetime in the spotlight, plenty of well-known folks go to their graves essentially penniless. Here are five examples of famous people who die broke.

Number one – Michael Jackson

He was the king of pop, the man behind the moonwalk and hits like “Thriller” and “Billie Jean.” Jackson’s passing by overdose in 2009 was among the most shocking celebrity deaths of all time. Despite a career that made him one of the top-selling musical artists in history, he was spending tens of millions of dollars more per year than he was making on expenses like maintaining his 2,600-acre private estate Neverland. Jackson died hundreds of millions in debt.

Number two – Judy Garland

She took us over the rainbow as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” but that still couldn’t prevent her from ending up penniless before she died. Garland endured a difficult life despite her fame, suffering from mental health and substance abuse issues. By the end of her days, she was millions in debt, owing money to many different creditors. Like Michael Jackson, Garland died from an accidental drug overdose. She was just 47 years old.

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Number three – Corey Haim

The teen icon rose to fame with a series of hit films in the late 1980s and early 1990s with frequent collaborator Corey Feldman. But like many younger actors, Haim dealt with trauma from his early years and struggled with drug addiction throughout his life. When Haim died of pneumonia in 2010, Feldman said that Haim had been so broke by the time he died he couldn’t even afford a car.

Number four – Vincent Van Gogh

Today, Van Gogh’s paintings sell for tens of millions of dollars. They are among the most valuable pieces of art in the world. But when the Dutch painter died by suicide in 1890, he was not a commercial success at all. Van Gogh struggled through a life of poverty and mental illness, and still managed to create some of art’s most influential works. However, his rewards have come posthumously, as he died essentially broke.

Number five – Joe Louis

In his prime, Louis was one of the most feared and famous athletes in history. He held the world heavyweight boxing championship for a dozen years in the 1930s and 1940s and even served in the U.S. Army during World War 2.  Louis made millions throughout his career, but the majority of it was siphoned off by dishonest handlers and much of the rest was given away to family and friends. By the end of his life, he faced significant tax trouble and died more than a million dollars in debt.

There you have it – proof that even the most famous among us can have it all and lose it all by the time they check out.