He’s a heavyweight serial celebrity investor who made our Celebrity Watch list, but he has also made a couple of serious and very costly howlers while building up a solid investment portfolio. He co-founded Elevation Partners, a firm which promised to specialize in investing in media, entertainment and consumer-related businesses, and indeed made some proper money early on when they turned a $320 million investment in video game creators BioWare and Pandemic Studios into $620 million when Electronic Arts bought them out in 2007. But then the rot seemed to set in and Bono proved that he is first and foremost just a singer. In fact, website 24/7 Wall Street dubbed him the “worst investor in America” which is some accolade. He ploughed $400 million into electronic developers Palm in August 2010 and $264 into Forbes but it didn’t quite work out, both companies having to be bought out (rescued) by Hewlett Packard and an Asian firm respectively a few years later. However, some sources believe that he made money on both deals; we choose to believe that he lost it all. Because we’re like that.
Not everybody knows him but English cricket lovers certainly do, great cricketer that he was, and English Strictly Come Dancing audiences also certainly do, considering he won the silly reality TV show. Good with the bat and ball, good with his twinkle-toes, not so good with money and investment opportunities. He got duped by some dastardly fraudsters and invested in a Ponzi-type scheme which offered a 13% return on his investment within four years. His investment portfolio was off to a flying start, or so he thought; he lost $1 million. Now reportedly only dancing to slow sad numbers.
Even the mighty can have a great fall, and Jay Z is indeed very mighty. And the fall was indeed very great. He’s had huge success with countless hit albums, tours, clothing apparel and various other successful business ventures and investment opportunities, and at one time it seemed that everything he touched turned to gold, building up a very impressive investment portfolio. However, he then decided to get into something big which he knew nothing about; hotels. He invested in a luxury hotel chain called J Hotels (what else) by first buying a 150,000 sq m property in Chelsea in order to convert it into his dream hotel, but just one year later construction was halted when the company defaulted on a $52 million loan from the bank; the property was handed back to the lenders, before the two parties got into a legal battle which was eventually settled out of court. Jay Z lost a lot of money, but we’re not convinced that he’s all that bothered; he still earned a not-too-shabby $60 million in 2014, claiming the No6 spot on the “World’s Most Powerful Celebrities” list. Still, he lost money on that J Hotels venture, and we can laugh at him for that.
He used to be a good football player, good with the ladies, reportedly (by his own admission) sleeping with 3 or 4 a day every day, and just as good with his fists, as Ulrika Johnson would testify. However, he was not so good at working out which ventures represented good investment opportunities, and he invested in all sorts of crazy schemes promising ridiculously high returns… and lost the lot. Ulrika is apparently very happy now.
The mustachioed ‘Bandit’ charmer from Smokey and the Bandit fame with the twinkling eyes and mischievous smile, a star from a bygone era who practically screams 70’s and who was a good actor, a very popular star, by all accounts a good guy and… an absolute disastrous celebrity investor. Terrible. He invested in a chain of restaurants called PoFolks, with branches all over California, Texas and Florida, which turned out to be a bad choice as the restaurants all flopped and sucked out all of his money, leaving him with just his wife, Loin Anderson, and his mustache. Then she left him and filed for divorce, which left him $15 million in the hole, although he was allowed to keep his waterfront estate in Florida. Then, in 2011, Merrill Lynch Credit Corp filed a foreclosure lawsuit against him for failing to pay his mortgage, which the judge upheld after 3 years of Reynolds fighting it, leaving Reynolds looking for a new, much cheaper residence. He was allowed to keep the mustache. And it was all down to a domino effect of his very bad decision to plough all of his money, despite a myriad of other investment opportunities, into a failing venture.
No relation to Burt but just as much of a celebrity fixture and film icon, and mother to Carrie Fisher of Princess Leia fame. She was a permanent feature in Las Vegas for years, so it was inevitable that her heart would rule her head when presented with different investment opportunities, and that she would invest in a hotel there. In 1991, this newbie celebrity investor purchased a casino and christened it, after much deliberation and a lot of incisive brainstorming, the Debbie Reynolds Hotel and Casino, where she performed regularly and also where she housed her incredible Hollywood memorabilia collection. But the location of the place was all wrong, being as it was off the strip, and she had to file for bankruptcy in 1997. She then had to start selling off her memorabilia collection when the museum that was housing it went bankrupt. However, she did manage to sell one item, that dress that Marilyn wore on “The Seven Year Itch” while standing above the subway grate, for a reported $4.6 million, which wasn’t bad.
Extremely successful talk show host and very well-known celebrity, and now a celebrity investor… and also a bit of a mug. He got persuaded by some silver-tongued swindlers to invest in a series of complex life insurance transactions, even giving up his own two life insurance policies in the process, which were worth $15 million. Still, he made just over $1 million from the deal, so he only lost out on around $14 million.
Former figure skater and all-round American sweetheart who captured the nation’s affections by winning an Olympic gold medal at the 1976 Olympics and then smiling ever-so-sweetly. But then the Ice Capades, the traveling entertainment shows featuring theatrical performances involving ice skating, made her rich, proper rich. So, when the company went bust in 1993, she bought it for an undisclosed sum, along with her husband and another partner. However, true to form for a complete novice investor, she failed to spot the changing winds in the market; people had come to view ice skating as an athletic and highly skilled sport, so Ice Capades was now being viewed as a silly and frivolous circus act, which is why it had gone bust in the first place. So, merely two years later, she filed for bankruptcy, even going as far as to tell the world that “money is evil”; I guess it is if you keep losing it.
You either love him or hate him, or loathe him with a passion normally reserved for rapists, child molesters and vegans, but you have to admit that he’s a pretty good presenter. But, you’ll be pleased to hear, not so good with investment opportunities; he was caught out by Coutts’ sale of AIG Life’s Enhanced Fund, and then chose to plough the majority of his savings into AIG’s Bond, which was closed; investors were eventually offered a fraction of their money. Bad decisions all round. He also got fired from Top Gear. And so we all rejoiced at the egotistical celebrity investor know-it-all’s hilarious demise. Frank Skinner also lost out in the same way. We don’t hate him but he is a bit annoying so, let’s all laugh at him too.
This celebrity investor is the star of lots of hit movies from the 80’s and a few more since then, and he was one of the not-so-select few who invested in Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Enough said. Zsa Zsa Gabor went the same way too, having to then sell off all her cars and jewelry; that’s why we stress to never invest all of your money into one thing, even if it looks like the creme de la creme of investment opportunities.