Why Do So Many Celebrities Go Broke?

Because the talent that made them rich in the first place lies in something — television hosting, for example, or heavyweight boxing — that doesn’t teach them anything about how to stay rich. Brian Cuban offers further insights.

Last week, Justin Wolfers wondered why Belgium seems to have so few celebrities, and he issued you a challenge to name some. But can you name a famously bankrupt Belgian celebrity?

corbett wall

This is easy. The most famous Belgian celebrity was Adolph Sax, inventor of the saxophone, who died humiliated and broke.


I am in Belgium right now!

Jean Claude van Damme is from Belgium!

The authors of the Smurfs and Tin Tin were Belgian.

The Belgians invented the saxophone.

And it really is not that boring here, in fact I think I will miss this place when I leave.

If you do have a chance, visit the place.


Belgium has no celebrities?

Then who are Hergé Jean-Claude Van Damme, Eddie Merckx, Benoît Poelvoorde, Axelle Red, Philippe Geluck, Albert Claude, Georges Lemaitre ? Are you disappointed that the Royal family is trying to actually resolve a political crisis, rather then fill up the tabloids?

If you really want a list: http://www.famousbelgians.net/

Maybe you don't consider that isolating cancer or suggesting the idea of the Big Bang will make you famous - but don't you think it's a healthy set for a country notorious for its love of discrete, tongue-in-check humour, comics and with the population of two small States and the surface of half one?

john griffiths

What about Plastique Bertrand?

Eivind Jorgensen

Do 'celebrity' financial experts (Jim Cramer ect.) ever go broke?

I mean good personal finance is just as much about impulse control as it is about knowledge in the field.

(pardon my grammar, English is not my first language).


Eddy Planckaert: famous belgian cyclist.
After his career he invested in a lumber company in Eastern Europe. He lost everything.

And Eddy Merckx (mentioned before) came close to bankrupcy with his cycling business.

(I admit: I am Belgian)

James Marino

You don't think the guy who invented Belgium waffles is a celebrity? The reason he is not broke: residuals!

web design company

Here's my theory: They spend more than they make. There you go, saved you a click.

Peter O'Reilly

Belgium native, Eddy Merckx, regarded as the greatest and most successful cyclist of all time, is doing quite well for himself in his elder years.


I think if you immediately cut off the earning potential of most traditionally successful people (entrepreneurs, professionals, etc.) near the peak of their success, they'd have similar troubles as athletes and celebrities.

The issue isn't strictly one of education or intelligence. Businesspeople can earn (and spend) at their peak for a lot longer than an athlete can. This long-term earning power can cover up the same over-indulgent tendencies that are easily exposed when a musician stops recording hit records and has to radically alter their lifestyle.


Just remembered that the creator of the Smurfs was Belgian. "Les Schtroumpfs" was created by Belgian cartoonist Pierre Culliford (aka Peyo) in 1958. No idea if he went broke, though.


Read up on the Artisan personality type in "Please Understand Me II" or other Myers-Briggs personality typing book. The artist personality sees life as a big party to be enjoyed in the moment and all available resources as firewood to be burned for enjoying today. Only once they become has-beens do they realize it's possible to run out of income before life is over and maybe they should have saved up. On the other hand they've always got their memories and don't really regret having a great time while young and successful, even if their later years are lived forgotten and broke. They are focused on the present moment and not the future or past, so their financial planning tends to be poor.

Ms. Distsrustful

Dear Chris;

My guess is, you are not referring to kids from middle to wealthy, educated backgrounds whose parents taught them a thing or two about managing money and success. They would be least susceptible to robber barons. The kids who made money that their parents didn't would be the one's most vulnerable as would be their parents. It's like winning the lotto overnight. It can even make a healthy person go bonkers-

daniel b

Front242 = Belgian

Famous world-wide since the early '80s.


I agree that I'd like to see some stats on how many stars actually blow through their money, and how that compares to people who come into a lot of money who *aren't* famous.

But I must say that, at least in LA, the culture is tilted towards appearance - and many feel they have to *look rich* in order to be thought successful. And this perception that you *are* successful can be a determining factor in getting more work. Especially if you're a singer, actor, director or producer.

This can result in a lot of stars *barely* maintaining extravagant means in order to maintain their status in the workplace, and try to ensure more work. Which means leasing and renting instead of owning, not saving as much, and an increased tendency towards loans and credit card debts. There are even high-roller pawn shops that allow stars to discreetly hawk sport cars, motorcycles and jewelry when they're "between movies" - i.e. unemployed - but maintain the outward appearance of extravagant success.


John Whited

Olga Korbut, Olympic Medalist arrested for shop lifting in Atlanta.....


I think that people who make a lot of money with their talent while they are young trust the wrong people to take care of it. By and large they don't blow their earnings themselves so much as they are robbed blind by parasites, and I'm not talking about a "posse." Supposedly respectable accountants, lawyers, and financial advisors feather their own nests with the earnings of someone with true talent, and once they bleed dry that source of easy money dry, they abandon their mark and move on to the next chump.


Don't forget about Jean-Claude Van Damme: The Muscles from Brussels. Don't know if he's broke.


easy come easy go


The muscles from Brussels, indeed.