Special Report

Billionaires That Have Gone Broke

Grant Suneson
Source: Getty Images / Stuart Ramson

11. Bernie Ebbers

WorldCom appeared to be a thriving telecom company in the late 1990s, and the company’s CEO, Bernie Ebbers, at was worth as much as $1.4 billion — but much of that success had been a sham. Billions in WorldCom’s profits were improperly recorded for the wrong year, and billions in expenses were classified as investments, grossly inflating the company’s profits. All in all, WorldCom’s books were off by $11 billion. The company is now defunct and Ebbers is serving a 25-year prison sentence. He was recently accused by prosecutors of faking dementia to try to secure an early release.

Source: Michael Blann / Getty Images

12. Huang Wenji

In 2017, Huang Wenji was the chairman of China Jicheng Holdings Ltd., an umbrella manufacturing company. Wenji had an estimated net worth of $1.9 billion, based on the valuation of the company, which Wenji and his wife owned 75% of at the time. A crash in small-cap Hong Kong stocks in June 2017 caused shares of China Jicheng Holdings to lose 94% of their value in a single day. Today, shares of the Jicheng Holdings are worth almost nothing — and Wenji’s net worth has also been severely cut.

Source: celebrityabc / Flickr

13. Jocelyn Wildenstein

Jocelyn Wildenstein first became a billionaire after receiving an estimated $2.5 billion in a 1999 divorce settlement from her art dealer husband. Wildenstein has been frequently featured in tabloids for her legendary spending habits and her extensive cosmetic surgery that has netted her the nickname “Catwoman.” She told reporters her net worth dropped after several pieces of art in her trust were found to be forged or worth much less than expected. She has also faced several lawsuits and foreclosures. In 2018, she filed for bankruptcy, claiming that she had zero dollars in her bank account.