Famous People Who Filed Bankruptcy

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No one is safe from the need for bankruptcy protection. It’s always possible to get bad business advice, fall ill or to simply spend more than you earn. In fact, some of the best known people in history have had to visit a bankruptcy attorney at least once during their careers. The list includes:

  • Henry Ford: Early in his career, Ford impressed a group of prominent politicians in Detroit with his abilities as a mechanic. The men agreed to financially back Ford’s first business venture in 1899. Unfortunately, the Detroit Automobile Company floundered and only produced a total of 20 vehicles. In 1901, the company went bankrupt. Two years later, Ford founded the Ford Motor Company. With the benefit of lessons learned in his first business, including the idea for assembly line production, Ford would become one of the most successful businessmen in the world.
  • Walt Disney: It’s hard to imagine any venture with Walt Disney in charge not succeeding. But in 1922, Disney and a partner struggled to make money with a film studio called “Laugh-O-Gram.” The two produced cartoons and some short advertising films. However, a New York company that agreed to act as distributor for the studio’s films cheated Disney and his partner. In 1923, the studio went bankrupt and Disney left behind the venture in Kansas for Hollywood. In 1928, Disney came up with the idea for a new cartoon character named Mickey Mouse. There was never a need for a return visit to a bankruptcy attorney.
  • Mike Tyson: Boxer Mike Tyson became the youngest undisputed heavyweight champion of the world as a 20-year-old in 1986. Tyson won 50 of the 58 fights in his career and earned an estimated $300 million. In 2003, Tyson was forced to file for bankruptcy. He explained that he had lost much of his fortune during a bitter divorce from actress Robin Givens. Tyson also blamed poor financial advice for his financial problems, and he admitted a weakness for excessive spending on a collection of vehicles and mansions.
  • Michael Vick: Legal problems turned around the finances and life of Michael Vick, the top draft choice in the 2001 NFL draft. At one time, Vick was one of the highest-paid players in the league. Vick was arrested in 2007 on charges of operating a dog-fighting ring for five years. He was convicted in 2008, and later that year Vick filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy from federal prison. After 21 months in prison, Vick returned to the league during the 2009 season. In 2010, Vick emerged as the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. He was named to the Pro Bowl and signed a multi-million dollar contract before the 2011 season.

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