- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 13, 2006

Let’s hope Leonard Cohen gets a much-deserved financial bounce from the documentary film tribute “Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man.” (See review, page D2.) The Canadian poet-songwriter discovered last year that his $5 million nest egg had dwindled to $150,000. He promptly sued his ex-manager and accused her of skimming from the fund over a period of 16 years — an all-too-familiar example of financial malfeasance or mismanagement that bedevils many a naive celebrity.

Michael Jackson — The Neverland Ranch, the legal fiascoes, the plastic surgery bills: What do all these tokens of grotesquerie, or worse, buy you? About $300 million in debt, that’s what.

M.C. Hammer — To say the “U Can’t Touch This” rapper lived high on the hog would be a gross understatement. Houses, cars and other luxury goods, not to mention an entourage of sleazy hangers-on, helped Hammer (he has dropped the M.C.) blow through $33 million.

Billy Joel — Never let friends or family handle your money: That was the lesson this famous “Piano Man” learned in 1992, when he accused lawyer Allen Grubman of paying kickbacks to Mr. Joel’s former manager and brother-in-law, Frank Weber. Mr. Joel filed a $90 million lawsuit and, to make matters worse, immediately came down with kidney stones.

Kim Basinger — Sure, you may be rich and gorgeous, but that doesn’t mean you can afford your own town. In 1989, Miss Basinger and a group of investors bought the nearly 2,000 acres known as Braselton, Ga., with an eye toward turning farmland into a tourist hot spot. One recession, $20 million and a personal bankruptcy declaration later, the Georgia peach of a plan turned rotten.

Burt Reynolds — Before “Boogie Nights” helped revive his career, ol’ Stroker Ace’s financial affairs needed a long pit stop. In 1996, after he was forced to sell his Jupiter, Fla., ranch and a mortgage lender foreclosed on his eponymous dinner theater, he declared bankruptcy, citing debts of approximately $10 million.

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