Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Nicolas Cage filed for bankruptcy in 2009. Mr. Cage has never declared bankruptcy. We regret the error.
When Michael Jacksonblew through $6 million during one shopping trip in Las Vegas, an outing that turned into the biggest takeaway from a 2003 British TV documentary that painted the pop star as the consummate weirdo, it became the go-to example of why Jackson was said to be $400 million in debt when he died.
Let's see, $6 million x 365 days in a year...plus all that Neverland Ranch upkeep...
But even if he didn't have seven-figure expenses every single day, the real question was, what happened to all the money Jackson made over the course of his four-decade career? 1984's Thriller was the second best-selling album of all time when he died (it's since become No. 1). His 1991 recording contract with Sony alone was for $65 million, not including touring and the endless monetizable aspects that go hand-in-hand with the sort of game-changing music Jackson was producing at the height of his career. He spent "only" $47.5 million in 1985 on ATV Music, which included the Lennon-McCartney portfolio. Sony then bought half the rights to the ATV catalog in a 1995 merger for $95 million.
So even if he was spending like a maniac, which he apparently was ($8 million in annual travel and antiquity acquisitions alone as the 20th century became the 21st), how did Jackson end up close to half a billion dollars in the red?