Famous People Who Died Penniless

Celebrities usually earn a fortune as a result of their talent but for some, this is short-lived as they become extravagant, make bad investments and engage in extracurricular activities that lead to them recklessly spending their fortunes. Sadly there are many riches-to-rags cases of famous people who made millions, lost it all and died penniless. Here are five of the celebrities.

1. Vincent van Gough

Vincent van Gough was born in the Netherlands in 1983. He was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter who, after his passing, rose to prominence and had a significant impact on western art history. He was known for many oil paintings, landscapes, porch rails, still life and self portraits. His masterpieces were known for their very vivid colors, dramatic and expressive brushwork which helped lay the groundwork for contemporary painting; however, he only sold one painting while alive. He was believed to suffer from a bipolar disorder and frequently experienced depression. Van Gough struggled financially and at the time of his passing in 1890, was a poor man.

2. George Best

George Best of North Ireland was notably the first true football superstar that the world had seen. Best had an insane talent on the field and by the age of fifteen, he was spotted by Manchester United scouts and made his debut two years later. Playing as a winger, Best showcased his talent and will always be remembered for his legendary passes and his abilities to breach his opponent’s defenses. Many accolades were bestowed on Best during his time on the field. He made millions from his football career which he spent lavishly. He fell ill and passed away in 2005.

3. Judy Garland

With her warmth and spirit as well as her rich and vivacious voice, Judy Garland was a beloved character who captivated theatergoers with a variety of enjoyable musicals. Gale was most famous for her part as Dorothy Gale in the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz.”  She became an internationally renowned recording artist, concert performer and actress. She won a Special Tony Award, a Golden Globe and an Academy Juvenile Award. Garland constantly had to deal with criticism from film executives who thought she was physically unattractive and tried to change her appearance. This affected her mentally and she also had financial challenges. Garland owed the IRS a hefty sum at the time of her passing in 1969.

4. Joe Louis

Joseph Lewis Barrow or Joe Louis also known by his nickname Brown Bomber was an American professional boxer. The longest reign in the history of heavyweight boxing belongs to Louis who held the title from 1937 until 1949. Louis was one of the finest and most popular American fighters. His achievements however, did not guarantee him a comfortable lifestyle. Most of his earnings were spent on gifts for family and friends, donations, unsound investments and payments to the IRS. To make ends meet, Louis performed as a wrestler and a greeter at a casino. He died in 1981 with no wealth to call his own.

5. Sammy Davis Jr.

Sammy Davis Jr. became one of the most well-known entertainers in the world as well as a member of Frank Sinatra’s illustrious “Rat Pack”. He was an accomplished Broadway and film actor, tap dancer, vocalist and comedian. Davis was also a film producer and television director. With this fame came much money, which he mismanaged and soon he was struggling financially. Davis racked up debt in the millions and at the time of his passing he had owed over fifteen million dollars.


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