Famous People Filing Bankruptcy

Written by: leonora  |  Published on: June 29th, 2009  |  Category: Blog

While having to file for bankruptcy is certainly not anybody’s idea of a good time or something to strive for, it is not the end, but rather a beginning or a fresh start. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, you are in the company of some very famous and successful people.

Abraham Lincoln – while his face is currently on a penny, at one time, didn’t have a single cent to spare. He tried his hand at many occupations as a young man, including buying a general store in New Salem, Illinois, in 1832. Honest Abe turned out to be a poor shopkeeper, and while he didn’t have modern bankruptcy laws to protect him, he ended up losing his remaining assets, including his horse. He also continued paying off his debts well into the 1840s.

Lincoln is not the only United States president that filed for bankruptcy. Ulysses S. Grant filed for bankruptcy after leaving office. Thomas Jefferson filed for bankruptcy several times. William McKinley filed for bankruptcy and was at one point $130,000 in the red.

Henry Ford – automobile manufacturer’s first two companies failed. The first company filed for bankruptcy and the second ended because of a disagreement with his business partner. In 1903, at the age of forty, he created a third company. By July 1903 the bank balance of the company dwindled to $223.65, but then Ford sold its first car, and the rest is history.

Walt Disneycartoon creator, filed for bankruptcy in 1920. In 1923 he formed a new company with a loan from his parents and brother and in 1928 he created “Mickey Mouse.” The rest is, you guessed it, history!

H.J. Heinz – When Heinz was just 25 years old he and his partners began a company that made horseradish. The condiment didn’t prove to be very lucrative. His company was bankrupt by 1875. The very next year, Heinz got together with his brother and cousin to start a new company. The reorganized company started making ketchup, and the business took off. Last year the H.J. Heinz Company had over $10 billion in revenue.

Milton Hershey – founder of Hershey’s chocolate, started four candy companies that failed and filed bankruptcy before starting what is now knows as Hershey’s Food Corp. Mr. Hershey had only a fourth grade education, but was certain he could make a good product. His fifth attempt was, as we all know, successful.

Mark Twain – the famous American writer, lost most of his money investing in a worthless machine called the Paige Compositor. He filed for bankruptcy in 1894 and discharged all his debts, but was determined to repay all the debts anyway. He knew he could earn money by giving lectures to large audiences, so he traveled to Europe and spent the next four years lecturing in all major cities. He used the proceeds from these lectures to repay all his debts. He also wrote several of his more famous books after filing bankruptcy, including Following the Equator.

Kim Basinger – the famous actress, earned so much money at one point from her movies that she was able to purchase the town of Braselton, Georgia. After the purchase she was sued for breach of contract for pulling out the movie, Boxing Helena. She was not able to pay the damages resulting from the suit and filed for bankruptcy in 1993. As part of her bankruptcy, she sold the town. She later married, had a child and won an Oscar for her role in  L.A. Confidential.

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