Famous People Who Have Declared Bankruptcy

Many people have a very negative view of what bankruptcy means (granted, declaring bankruptcy almost never means that things went particularly well). However, as this article here so aptly points out, bankruptcy isn’t a permanent failure.

try, fail, repeat, success

There have been plenty of highly successful and talented people who have needed to declare bankruptcy at a particularly low point in their career, whether it was a sudden roadblock before they got established, or even when sudden surprises caused them to lose their wealth. Despite these low points, these are all individuals who rose above these low points to develop careers that are worth remembering Here is a list of several famous people who declared bankruptcy…

Walt Disney

Today, the Walt Disney Company’s market capitalization is somewhere around $150 billion, which makes it one of the largest media/entertainment company in the world. However, things didn’t always look so rosy. Before he created many of his most iconic creations, Walt Disney tried to create a film studio in Kansas City, but was scammed out of much of the profits by a distributor with nefarious intentions. Eventually, this production company was forced to declare bankruptcy, and Walt Disney left for an illustrious and legendary career in Hollywood. At the time of his death, Walt Disney was worth roughly $5 billion, when adjusted for inflation.

Cyndi Lauper

While some of these individuals owned businesses that were forced to declare bankruptcy, some of them had to do so, personally. Cyndi Lauper was one of them. Before she was able to hit it big, she gambled on the success of her musical group Blue Angel, a group that was only able to produce just one failed album before they finally collapsed. After this happened, Cyndia Lauper was left with no choice but to declare bankruptcy in 1981. However, as we can attest to, today, she clearly found a way back on her feet and became one of the most iconic pop stars of the 1980’s.

motivational quote by Henry Ford

Henry Ford

Henry Ford wasn’t able to innovate the automobile industry, overnight. It came with years of practice and failure. Before he created the immensely successful Ford Motor Company (or Ford, as it’s known today) and developed techniques that allowed for mass production of complicated machinery, he tried to start a company in Michigan known as the Detroit Automobile Company. Obviously, this company didn’t fare nearly as well as his later endeavors, and he eventually had the business declare bankruptcy in 1901. Despite this, the company didn’t die, and actually evolved to become the Cadillac Automobile Company, a name we’re sure everyone is familiar with.

Francis Ford Coppola

There is no filmmaker who could claim greater renown in the 1970’s than Francis Ford Coppola. His films were hits that were rained with accolades and economic success, year after year. However, while other people on this list met financial disaster early on in their careers, Coppola’s came much later. In 1992, after the film One from the Heart was a major box office failure, Coppola was forced to file for bankruptcy. However, he would recover from this downfall and eventually diversified into a famous winery and other luxury businesses. Oh, and he still makes movies!

Larry King

In terms of talk show news, Larry King is probably the pinnacle of success. His $150 million net worth comes from a long career of hosting Larry King Live (25 years, to be precise). However, it wasn’t easy to get to this point. Before this, Larry King worked as a radio announcer in Miami, and was living a lifestyle that was far too unsustainable for his means. After spending a considerable sum of money that he didn’t have, he eventually had to file for bankruptcy in 1978.

Five Dollar Bill - $5

Abraham Lincoln

If you want an example of how hitting financial bottom is not the equivalent of failure, and how an individual can bounce back to become one of the most influential figures of their time, then look no further than Abraham Lincoln. Before beginning his career in politics, Abraham Lincoln tried to start a general store in Illinois. Things didn’t go well when his partner died, however, and Lincoln was responsible for the remaining payments on the store. While Lincoln didn’t actually declare bankruptcy, as we know it today, he was taken to court and lost everything that he had.

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