Celebrities are often the targets of scams or frauds due to their high net worth and public profile. Unfortunately, some celebrities have fallen victim to these schemes, losing millions of dollars in the process. In this article, we will explore the stories of five celebrity cases, who were scammed out of millions of dollars.
1. Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon – Madoff Ponzi scheme
Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon, source: people.com
Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon, the Hollywood power couple, were among the many victims of Bernie Madoff’s infamous $65 billion Ponzi scheme. Madoff, a former investment advisor, defrauded investors of billions of dollars over several decades by promising steady returns on investments that did not exist.
Sedgwick along with Bacon reportedly lost millions of dollars in the scheme, which was uncovered in 2008. They had invested with Madoff for over ten years and were unaware that their returns were being paid with other investors’ money rather than from actual profits.
While the amount they lost in this scam is unknown, they allegedly had most of their net worth at Madoff, which could be up to $100 million. The couple was devastated by the loss, but they were not alone. Many other investors, including celebrities like Steven Spielberg or Elie Wiesel, also lost money in the scheme.
Lesson: Don’t let your whole net worth sit in one place.
2. Billy Joel lost millions to Frank Weber
Billy Joel, source: ticketmaster.com
Billy Joel, the legendary musician, fell victim to a scam orchestrated by his ex-brother-in-law, Frank Weber. Weber, who was married to Joel’s sister, was hired by Joel as his financial advisor in the 1990s. However, Weber used his position to defraud Joel, ultimately stealing millions of dollars from the musician.
Weber reportedly forged Joel’s signature on loans and investments, siphoning off money for his own personal use. Joel only became aware of the fraud when he was contacted by the IRS, who informed him that he owed millions of dollars in back taxes. Joel sued Weber, eventually being able to recover some of the money he had lost.
Nevertheless, the amount lost is much higher than the one recovered. Weber allegedly siphoned $30 million from Joel over the course of several years, taking a significant part of Joel’s net worth. While this is not an investment mistake, there is a lesson to be learned as always.
Lesson: Even if you work with people you trust, have better oversight of your money. Trust, but verify.
3. Robert De Niro scammed by Lawrence Salander
Robert De Niro, source: thecommunity.com
Robert De Niro, one of the most iconic actors of his generation, was also scammed out of millions of dollars. But this case is probably nothing like you’ve ever heard before. De Niro was defrauded by his own art dealer, Lawrence Salander. Salander was a prominent dealer in the art world, but he used his position to defraud clients, including De Niro.
Salander reportedly sold artwork that he did not own, using the proceeds to fund his lavish lifestyle. If that was not enough, he also borrowed money from De Niro along with other clients, promising to use the funds for legitimate art purchases. However, that didn’t happen. Promises are not enough.
Salander used the money to pay off other debts and expenses, leaving De Niro along with others with empty pockets. It’s estimated that the total damages pile up to $88 million, but De Niro was eventually able to recover some of his losses through legal action. The damage is still colossal, yet De Niro chose to look at the bright side of life, forget, and move on.
Lesson: Be very careful who you choose to work with when selling big properties or investing huge capital.
4. Elton John vs PricewaterhouseCoopers
Elton John, source: npr.org
Elton John, the legendary musician, lost millions of dollars due to mismanagement by his former accountants, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). John had hired PwC to manage his finances and investments, but the company failed to properly manage his net worth, which is why he sued them for $29 million.
PwC reportedly invested John’s money in high-risk ventures without his consent, resulting in significant losses. They also failed to properly account for his taxes, leading to additional penalties and fines. John eventually terminated his relationship with PwC, suing the company for mismanagement.
Elton John clearly lost this case, making him pay additional legal fees worth millions. Whether he was right or not to lose so much money to PwC, one thing is clear. Elton John is a big spender, which might have been used against him in the court case.
Lesson: Although you didn’t do anything wrong, you may still lose money. It’s important to accept it and move on.
5. Usain Bolt – From $12 million to $12k
Usain Bolt, source: npr.org
Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter and Olympic champion, was defrauded out of $12 million in a fraudulent investment scheme. According to Bolt’s attorney, Bolt found out that $12 million disappeared from an account he held with Kingston’s Stocks and Securities.
Bolt was told only about $12,000 remained in the account (only 0.1% of the original sum), which was a part of Bolt’s retirement and lifetime savings. He is not the only one, as many more people lost millions in this scheme. Bolt invested in this fraud scheme back in 2012, and hasn’t withdrawn money ever since.
There are already actions in place to get his money back, but it is highly unlikely he will ever see the whole sum returned, as in most cases of fraud. While this is not the whole net worth of Usain Bolt, it surely brought significant damage.
Lesson: Regularly check your investments and diversify your capital.
In conclusion, the stories of these celebrities serve as a reminder that no one is immune to fraud or scams. Even those with vast wealth can fall victim to unscrupulous individuals and organizations. It is crucial to conduct due diligence and to seek professional advice when making investments, no matter how trustworthy the source may seem.
Additionally, these stories demonstrate the importance of taking legal action when defrauded. While it can be challenging to recover lost funds, pursuing legal action can help to hold fraudsters accountable and may result in some restitution for victims.
It is important to note that these stories are just a few examples of the many cases of scams that have targeted celebrities over the years. Unfortunately, these types of crimes continue to be prevalent. It is essential to remain vigilant and informed to protect oneself from financial harm.