Celebrities may not be rich forever. The foreclosure wave is an equal opportunity tsunami.
Glamorous stars look untouchable, walking down a red carpet and waving to adoring fans. But they're just people-and if they don't pay their bills, they're going to lose their 70-foot yachts and lavish mansions.
The housing bubble didn't exactly pop, but deflated quickly over the last couple of years. In the wake of falling home prices and tighter lending standards came a flock of foreclosures, cutting through Beverly Hills just as easily as it did in Queens.
Infamous baseball legend Jose Canseco recently saw the bank grab his 7,300 square-foot home in Encino, CA. He owed more than $2.5 million on the house, and "decided to just let it go" because it didn't make financial sense to keep the property. Canseco made an informed decision to move out, but others haven't been as lucky.
Take retired NBA problem child Latrell Sprewell, for example: He has a gaudy style of wheel rims named after him, but can't hold on to the riches in his own life. Sprewell failed to make the monthly $10,300 payment on his 70-foot yacht, so the U.S. Marshals sold it at auction for $856,000 in January. Then, in May, his Milwaukee home went into foreclosure after seven months of missing the $2,600 payment. The hoop star also has unpaid property taxes on his record, and seems to be choking on financial woes.
Houston...we have a problem
Then there's Whitney Houston. The songstress rescued her New Jersey home from a sheriff's sale in 2007 by paying the $83,000 in back taxes that she owed on the property, and working out a payment plan with the bank on the $1 million mortgage. But the home she shared with Bobby Brown in the suburbs of Atlanta went under the court auctioneer's gavel for $1.16 million.
King of foreclosure
We can't forget about the King of Pop himself. Michael Jackson's 2,500 acre Neverland Ranch was only days away from a foreclosure auction when an investment company stepped in and took over the $24.5 million debt on the infamous property. The white knight investors want to be paid back eventually, but at least Jacko won't have the previous lenders breathing down his neck anymore.
The back catalog
That's just the tip of the iceberg, the most recent crop of unfulfilled financial obligations by the jet set. The roll call of famous Americans who filed for bankruptcy, or had a foreclosure slapped on their homes, is long and illustrious, including headliners like MC Hammer, Henry Ford, Walt Disney, and Abraham Lincoln.
Celebrities do live by the same laws and rules as the rest of us, only on a larger scale. Knowing this may be good for your self-confidence in troubled times. You might also draw inspiration from the later successes of some of these stars. The jury is still out on the recent victims, but that Lincoln guy made out pretty decently.