From Katie Price to David James, voyeuristic tabloids never tire of the celebrity bankruptcy club

The news of a celebrity being told they have no more money has long been a source of schadenfreude, writes Rob Hastings

Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 7:33 pm
Katie Price emerged from a newsagents clutching a EuroMillions ticket. It was one last gamble.

As she walked away from that shop two weeks ago, followed by a paparazzo, the former model and reality TV star – once worth £40m – knew that she was probably just days away from going broke.

Price had been unable to produce the £12,000 she reportedly needed to repay her creditors every month for four years under an Individual Voluntary Arrangement, and her £75,000 pink Range Rover had already been repossessed and auctioned off.

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Like every other aspect of her life, this was documented by the tabloids after the car was spotted at a 4×4 dealership in Chelmsford, Essex.

in a hearing at the High Court on Tuesday, and showbiz articles were soon speculating that she may have to move out of her £1.6m farmhouse and into a council home.

How common are insolvency and bankruptcy?

More people across society are hitting rock bottom with their finances. In 2018, the number of cases of personal insolvency in England and Wales increased for the third consecutive year to 115,299, the highest since 2011, and there were 16,582 bankruptcy orders, a 9.8 per cent rise.

Figures similarly went up in Northern Ireland, and in Scotland where the equivalent is called sequestration.

Voyeuristic tabloids

The news of a celebrity being told they have no more money has long been a source of schadenfreude.

However, the media gawping at Price’s downfall feels even more uncomfortable when reading about the 41-year-old’s struggles with drug and alcohol addiction, and her difficult family life looking after her disabled son Harvey and sharing custody of her four other children.

Boris Becker’s money problems

claiming diplomatic immunity, after negotiating to become an attaché for Central African Republic, one of the world’s poorest countries.

Pop stars and footballers in trouble

Bankruptcy has hit many pop stars in recent years, including Westlife’s Shane Filan, Fazer from N-Dubz, Atomic Kitten’s Kerry Katona – and all four members of the group Blue.

“We were sued by management who tried to screw us over big time, so we liquidated the company,” band member Duncan James explained in 2017. “They went after each one of us at a time.”

Money problems affect two in five professional footballers during or after their careers, according to the magazine Four Four Two. While it is more common among those from lower leagues, former England players Carlton Cole and David James have both been declared bankrupt.

How does the situation compare in America?

The rules and the stigma surrounding it are less severe in the US, where some of the most famous people in entertainment have gone through the process. Among them are boxer Mike Tyson, actress Kim Bassinger, and musicians MC Hammer, Meat Loaf and 50 Cent.

Donald Trump has never been bankrupt personally (in financial terms, at least), but four of his businesses have filed for the corporate version – using a process he has called a “tremendous thing”.

While it can help people restart their lives by clearing debts, however, few would use that phrase while going through it.