The top ten famous Irish bankrupts of all time
Big names who needed bankruptcy protection
Harris's acting pedigree helped him get cast in many Hollywood films including Camelot, Cromwell, and in the American classic Unforgiven. Prior to making a name for himself on the big screen, Harris blew all his hard earned money in England as he pursued a career as a director.
As a result, Harris claimed he was homeless until he was able to scrape enough money on his own with roles in various West End productions. Others have claimed that the Limerick-man exaggerated such claims in order to play into the rags-to-riches Hollywood fairy tale. Multiple marriages and subsequent divorces as well as a alcohol and drug addiction also contributed to his money woes.
"When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is." Wise words spoken by a man who experienced what it meant to have money and to suddenly lose it all.
The Irish playwright was born to an Anglo-Irish family in Dublin and had grown up with the luxury afforded to the upper class in Victorian Britain. His later career had brought him little money, although his earlier works had been commercial and popular successes. With his early success, Wilde accused blackmailers as trying to defame and extort him. With surmounting legal troubles and declining public opinion of him, Wilde found himself broke and exiled. His wife Constance, despite refusing to see him or even contact him, occasionally sent him money. What little he did have by the end of his life, he squandered on alcohol.
The son of an Irish-Canadian who had roots in County Kilkenny, it may come as a surprise to many that the man who created one of the most vast and successful enterprises in American history had once declared bankruptcy.
Laugh-O-Gram studio, founded in 1922 by Disney himself, went bankrupt merely a year after being established. Furthermore, Walt Disney Productions as well as its predecessor Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, came close to declaring bankruptcy several times. Walt was notorious for being unsuccessful in money management, and wound up being overwhelmed by debt on several occasions.
Often referred to as one of the "Greatest Players of All Time" and certainly the creme de la creme of the Irish soccer world, George Best lost all he made in his prolific career. After struggling with alcohol addiction for most of adult life, Best filed for bankruptcy in 1982. A year before that, Best admitted to hitting a low when he stole money from an unidentified woman's purse in order to fuel his addiction. After being convicted of drunk driving in 1984, Best was incarcerated after being unable to post bail. The tragic nature of his later life culminated in 2002 when he received a liver transplant payed by the tax payers, as he was unable to afford it himself. He died less than three years later.
Ford, the son of an immigrant from County Cork, took a risk in the late 1800s when he invested his savings into expanding gasoline engines. Ford's first company the Detroit Automobile Company lost everything in 1901. Ford started over with the Henry Ford Company, but left a mere two years later. Continuing to overcome his financial struggles, Ford created the Ford Motor Company, which eventually went on to have a net worth of $188,000,000,000.00
For most of Sean Fitzpatrick's tenure as the chief executive of Anglo-Irish Bank, things seemed bright and cheery with the booming Irish economy. The tides suddenly turned in 2008 when Fitzpatrick resigned amid allegations that he had withdrawn secret loans totaling over €150,000,000.00. To make matters worse, Fitzpatrick had been appointed positions in several other firms including Dublin Docklands Development Authority and Aer Lingus. 2010 proved to be a pivotal year for Fitzpatrick as he filed for bankruptcy and was arrested by gardai.
Though McMahon has built a billion dollar corporation out of the WWE alongside his wife Linda, he has dealt with a lot of financial troubles over the years. Linda described their money troubles starting as far back as thirty years ago when their home and cars were repossessed. The McMahons subsequently filed for bankruptcy in 1976. The 80s saw a boom in wrestling, and the McMahons capitalized on the phenomenon. Though he has been faced with claims of owing the IRS money and other money problems, McMahon is now estimated to be worth millions.
The gold-medal winning Olympic figure skater saw her familiarity with the skating world as a way to push forth her own capitalistic ambitions. After showcasing her talent in the traveling act Ice Capades for seven years, Hamill sought to revive the aging production and acquired control over the company in 1993. The move was not a success, and dragged her deeper into a hole; Hamill eventually sold the company to Pat Robertson's International Family Entertainment, Inc. in 1995.
The son of Irish immigrant parents, Brady made a name for himself with his early portraits and depiction of the atrocities of the American Civil War. Though Brady became a sensation in the Civil War years, he wrongly assumed the American government would reimburse him after the war ended for his debts totaling over $100,000.00. After an initial refusal and eventual allocation of $25,000.00 by Congress, Brady inevitably sold his studio in New York and filed for bankruptcy. Brady died penniless in 1896, but his legacy has sustained to this day. He is commonly referred to as the father or photojournalism.
Ulysses S. Grant:
After becoming a national hero in the Civil War, and a mediocre stint as President, Ulysses S. Grant filed for bankruptcy following a costly post-presidency trip around the world. Grant's son, who was a figure on Wall Street, persuaded his father to partner up with Ferdinand Ward in an investment banking endeavor. This idea turned out costly for Grant when in 1884 Ward schemed Grant and took off after bankrupting the company. Left to clean up the mess and also to pay for a house he had recently bought in New York City, Grant was forced to repay over $150,000 in loans with his treasured Civil War memorabilia as collateral.
Cathy Lee Crosby:
Though achieving success in That's Incredible!, Cathy Lee Crosby filed for bankruptcy in the 1990s as a result of an apparent romance gone sour. Crosby's relationship with Joe Theismann made headlines in the 80s for the fairy-tale romance between a sports player and a Hollywood starlet. In her autobiography, Crosby states that the relationship ended and Theismann sued her for half of her assets. In order to protect herself, Crosby stated that she subsequently filed for bankruptcy to stop Theismann from getting ownership of her belongings.
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