Michael Jackson (Aug. 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009)
After selling more than 750 million albums worldwide and making millions through commercial endorsements, as well as buying The Beatles’ music rights, it’s difficult to believe the King of Pop could ever be short of money. However, at the time of his death, it was reported by Forbes that Michael Jackson was in $500 million worth of debt.
With a Neverland Ranch to maintain, the singer spent $35 million improving the property, which featured two railway lines, two helicopter pads, its own fire department, a zoo and a plethora of amusement park-style rides. Seventy-five cars and lavish gifts, such as the $637,000 necklace he bought for actress Elizabeth Taylor, also contributed to some of his outrageous expenses. He was also reported to have spent $25,600 a month on “medical needs.” The problem was that his appetite for spending exceeded the money he brought in — to the tune of $20 million to $30 million each year.
When the Michael Jackson Estate filed its estate tax return, it reportedly claimed his assets were worth only $7 million as of the day he died. The IRS had a slightly different view, estimating the total to be more than $1 billion … and as much as $1.5 billion, in fact. It says that the estate under-reported his assets so significantly that the estate owes a tax bill of $702 million. The estate disagrees and has sued the IRS.
Jackson’s estate worth is still being disputed to this day.