Special Report

20 Celebrities Who Died Broke

Source: Phil Walter / Getty Images

1. Michael Jackson
> Died: 2009
> Circumstances at death: Reportedly $500 million in debt, estate bankrupt

The King of Pop, who died from an overdose of surgical anaesthetic, was reportedly in debt due to extravagant spending on cars, art, exotic animals, and jewelry as well as donating huge amounts of his dwindling fortune to charities.

Source: Evening Standard / Getty Images

2. Marvin Gaye
> Died: 1984
> Circumstances at death: $9 million in debt (about half of that to the IRS)

The Motown singer, who was shot to death by his own father, was in debt due to his struggles with drug addiction and multiple divorces. He even moved to Europe to avoid paying taxes owed to the IRS.

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3. Judy Garland
> Died: 1969
> Circumstances at death: $4 million in debt

After a lifelong struggle with substance abuse, Garland died of a barbiturate overdose. She was notoriously overworked and underpaid, taken advantage of by managers and husbands, and — near the end of her career — unable to perform due to her addiction.

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4. Bela Lugosi
> Died: 1956
> Circumstances at death: $1,900 in his bank account and $1,000 worth of real estate

The actor most famous for his role as the lead character in the 1931 horror classic “Dracula” spent much of his fortune on drugs and alcohol. Though he continued to work constantly, appearing in more than 50 films after that star turn, he could never hold onto his income. He died of a heart attack in his sleep.

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5. Mickey Rooney
> Died: 2014
> Circumstances at death: Owed medical bills and back taxes

Allegedly suffering from physical and financial abuse at the hands of his eighth wife and her son, Mickey Rooney died with only a small fraction of the fortune he made acting. The $18,000 he had left was willed to his step-son, who had previously been accused of stealing $8.5 million from the elderly actor.