Famous People Who Have Filed for Bankruptcy Part 1

Filing for bankruptcy has historically had a negative societal stigma unnecessarily. Even in 2011, when everyone knows someone who has filed for bankruptcy, the fear of what people will think of them, and what their financial future will be keeps many people tied up in disastrous financial situations.

Back in the late 1990s, 1% of households in the U.S. were filing bankruptcy annually, in 2006 the number went up to 1.8. University of Michigan researcher Michelle J. White estimated that based on the debt to income ratio, at least 17% of U.S. households would be better off financially if they filed for bankruptcy. The truth is good people file for bankruptcy everyday. In this post, we’ll look at some famous people who have faced financial difficulties just like you, and filed for bankruptcy to eliminate their debts.

Rembrandt Haremenszoon Van Rijn – 1606-1669

The famous Dutch painter accumulated a large amount of debt and filed for bankruptcy at the age of 50 in 1656. His lawyer, Jacob Peter Thomasz, supervised the sale of his assets in 1657 and 1658. A number of his paintings, as well as his house were sold at an auction. Following his bankruptcy filing Rembrandt continued to paint, but was not allowed to sell his works directly to customers. By having his son take over his business and sell his paintings, he was able to circumvent this law.


Phineas Taylor Barnum – 1810-1891

Known as the greatest American showman, Phineas filed for bankruptcy in 1871 due to the losses he incurred in several unwise business ventures. After filing for bankruptcy, he organized his famous circus, “The Greatest Show On Earth.” In 1881, Phineas merged his circus with his most successful competitor, James A. Bailey, under the name of Barnum and Bailey Circus.



Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) -1835-1910

The great American author, lost most of his money investing in a machine called the “Paige Compositor,” an automatic typesetting machine. Although Mark Twain filed for bankruptcy in 1894 and discharged all his debts, he was determined to repay his debts. He traveled to Europe and spent the next four years lecturing in every major to city to earn money. He used the proceeds from the lectures to repay all his debts, and wrote several of his famous books after filing bankruptcy including; Pudd’nhead Wilson and Following the Equator.


Mathew Brady – 1823-1896

Mathew Brady was a distinguished Civil War photographer. He filed for bankruptcy in 1872 in Washington, D.C. After the war, people lost interest in his work and he became unable to pay his business debts. Three years after he filed for bankruptcy the United Stated War Department agreed to purchase part of his photography collection for $25,000.00. Following the sale of his collection, he reopened his photography gallery and was successful in attracting new clients for his work.


Henry John Heinz – 1844-1919

Henry Heinz was a condiment manufacturer. He started his company in 1869 selling pickles, horseradish, sauerkraut and vinegar. After experiencing an unexpected bumper harvest, the company could not keep up, nor meet their payroll obligations. In 1875, the company filed for bankruptcy. Heinz immediately started a new company and introduced a new condiment, tomato ketchup to the market.


Oscar Wilde – 1854-1900

The acclaimed poet and author Oscar Wilde was forced into bankruptcy in 1895. Oscar had been convicted of homosexual activity, which was illegal in England at that time, and was sentenced to two years in prison at hard labor. In November 12, 1895, he was declared bankrupt, and his property was auctioned off. When he was released from prison, he published his poem, The Ballad of Reading Gaol.



Considering Filing for Bankruptcy?

Filing for bankruptcy does not make you a bad person. As you can see from Part 1 of our Famous People Who Have Filed for bankruptcy posts, renowned, famous, wealthy, creative people have experienced the same financial difficulties tht you have. Filing for bankruptcy may actually improve your financial future in many cases. Please contact us today for a free bankruptcy consultation (888) 728 0044 or email us here.