For as long as there have been celebrities there have been celebrity brands.
A celebrity business or cache of endorsement deals can mean big bucks for the famous (or mostly infamous). But not every celebrity business owner can be a Martha Stewart or Linda McCartney. Even celebs with previously strong track records for business and endorsements falter.
Here’s our pick of the 10 worst celebrity business owners and botched endorsement deals:
- Tiger Woods: Once the king of golf, after news of his affairs broke, sponsors, advertisers, and direct employers couldn’t distance themselves fast enough. Economists estimated shareholder loss at between $5 billion and $12 billion.
- Heidi Montag: Fame and plastic surgery do not a celebrity design business make. But after a failed clothing line for Anchor Blue, “Heidiwood,” she’s back to the drawing board.
- Lenny Dykstra: The World Series champion has run several businesses into the ground, ranging from carwashes to The Players Club magazine. He claimed he was a victim of predatory lending practices after buying hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s mansion for $17.5 million, and filed for bankruptcy in 2010.
- Kim Basinger: It’s no secret celebs love buying real estate, but in 1989 Basinger one-upped her peers and bought the town of Braselton, Georgia for $20 million. In true celebrity business owner fashion, the venture sunk in 1993 when Braselton failed to become another Hollywood down South.
- Jim Bakker: One of the worst celebrity business owners made his money bilking hard-earned dollars from the faithful. The televangelist and his wife, Tammy Faye, hosted the ‘PTL Club’, and his Praise the Lord Ministries boasted $129 million in revenue at its peak. It all came crashing back to earth after Bakker admitted to an affair (and hush money payola) with a church secretary. He was convicted on 24 counts of mail and wire fraud.
- Heidi Fleiss: the Hollywood Madam hasn’t been able to recreate her prostitution ring notoriety or success. She tried a “stud farm” in Nevada, only to be shut down – felons can’t work in the (legal) sex trade. She also failed at running a sex toy shop, pet grooming, and a laundromat.
- Jim McMahon: This former Chicago Bears quarterback closed the doors to his steakhouse in 2003 after just a year. His previous attempt at a restaurant failed in the early nineties.
- Suzanne Somers: Celebrity business lightning didn’t strike twice for the face of ThighMaster. Her prepackaged food and recipe venture, Suzanne’s Kitchen, failed inside three months.
- Marion “Suge” Knight: The Death Row Records founder’s label was riding high in the nineties with artists such as Dr. Dre, 2Pac, and Snoop Dogg. But Knight was sent to jail in 1996 for parole violation, and has been in and out of trouble since. When Death Row filed for bankruptcy protection in 2006, Knight admitted he hadn’t checked the books in 10 years.
- The Kardashians: While their foray into branded prepaid debit cards was short-lived, the Kardashian sisters will not soon forget it. After breaking their contract with University National Bank in November 2010 over the exorbitant usury fees attached to the Kardashian Kard, the bank slapped them with a $75 million lawsuit for breach of contract.
For more celebrity business news and fraud stories, keep checking in with CelebLegalIssues.com.