Who are the top 14 Billionaires who went broke?. It is uncommon for someone who has achieved the position of billionaire to lose it, yet it does happen. The majority of those who have amassed billions of dollars also know how to keep their riches.
However, every now and then, someone who was once worth billions sees their net worth plummet to almost zero.
A look into reports of wealthy people who had lost their fortune. More than a handful billionaires have gone bankrupt, according to our research.
The billionaires on this list have typically lost money due to bad investments or criminal activity. Several are well-known scammers who made billions of dollars by deceiving investors or falsifying financial records to make their company appear more profitable.
Other people on this list amassed their fortunes through divorce but were unable to keep it due to poor investments or extravagant spending.
The ultra-wealthy can often stay wealthy by diversifying their holdings to protect themselves from economic downturns and hiring excellent money managers to assist them avoid recessions.
During the COVID-19 pandemic and its financial aftermath, the net worth of America’s 614 billionaires increased by more over $900 billion. These are the American billionaires who became even richer as a result of COVID.
Full Name: Elizabeth Anne Holmes
Born: February 3, 1984 (age 37 years), Washington, D.C., United States.
Business Founded: Theranos
Elizabeth Holmes was once featured on the cover of Forbes magazine for co-founding a $9 billion firm. She is now facing charges of fraud.
With just a few drops of blood, Holmes claimed her business, Theranos, was creating a new blood test that could test for hundreds of diseases and ailments. In actuality, the firm was still a long way from deploying this technology.
Holmes now faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for nine charges of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy in connection with the defrauding of investors, doctors, and patients. In March 2021, her trial was set to commence.
Full Name: Bernard Lawrence Madoff
Born: April 29, 1938, Queens, New York, United States.
Died: April 14, 2021, FMC Butner, Bahama, North Carolina, United States (in prison)
Business Founded: Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities.
Source of Wealth: American fraudster and financier who ran the largest Ponzi scheme in history, worth about $17.5 billion.
Bernie Madoff will go down in history as one of the most notorious scammers. Madoff perpetrated the world’s largest Ponzi scheme, defrauding investors of an estimated $17.5 billion.
Trustees are said to have recovered $13 billion in stolen funds. Madoff is currently serving a federal prison sentence of 150 years.
He requested a compassionate release in early 2020, alleging that he had fewer than two years to live owing to kidney failure. His request was turned down.
Below is the Top 14 Billionaires who went broke.
Full Name: Robert Allen Stanford
Born: March 24, 1950 (age 71 years), Mexia, Texas, United States.
Nationality: American, Antiguan.
Business Founded: Stanford Financial Group
Source of Wealth: Financial fraudster, financier, and sponsor of professional sports.
Despite not being as well-known as Bernie Madoff, Allen Stanford made and lost his money through a Ponzi scam. He cheated roughly 18,000 people out of their funds, many of whom were retirees.
His scheme is said to have brought in more than $7 billion. Stanford’s net wealth dropped after his scam was exposed. For his part in the scam, he received a sentence of 110 years in prison.
Unlike Madoff’s victims, however, few of Stanford’s victims have been able to reclaim their funds.
Full Name: Eike Fuhrken Batista da Silva
Born: November 3, 1956, Governador Valadares, State of Minas Gerais, Brazil
Nationality: Brazilian, German.
Business Founded: EBX Group, MMX
Oil billionaire Eike Batista, once the world’s seventh richest person, was the face of Brazil’s rising economy in 2012.
When Bastista’s oil company, OGX, couldn’t keep up with promised production, investors withdrew their money, his business began to fall apart. Batista declared bankruptcy when his finances deteriorated further as Brazil’s economy collapsed.
Batista was accused with money laundering after investigators learned he was involved in a kickback scheme that brought down many of Brazil’s most powerful politicians.
He received a 30-year sentence for corruption and money laundering, as well as an extra eight-year sentence for market manipulation in 2019.
Full Name: John Ignatius Quinn
Born: 5 December 1947 Derrylin, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.
Business Founded: Mannok, Quinn Financial Services.
Sean Quinn had a net worth of over 3 billion euro when he was Ireland’s richest man. He expanded his family quarry and ventured into other industries such as manufacturing, real estate, power plants, and others.
Quinn’s corporate empire was shattered by a disastrous investment in the Anglo Irish Bank. He attempted to save the bank’s fortune by withdrawing funds from his insurance company, but the bank’s stock was in freefall.
Taxpayers had to bail out the bank, and the government took control. Quinn filed for bankruptcy in 2011 claiming that his assets were worth less than £50,000.
Full Name: Björgólfur Guðmundsson
Born: January 2, 1941 (age 80 years), Reykjavík, Iceland.
Business Founded: Landsbanki (Iceland 2nd largest bank), co-founded Bravo Brewery (which was later sold to Heineken, bought 90% of West Ham football club in the English premier league
Source of Wealth: Investments, Self made.
In 2008, Björgólfur Gudmundsson was the chairman and principal owner of Iceland’s second largest bank. However, the global financial crisis that year took its toll on banking systems, and Gudmundsson’s bank went bankrupt.
The Icelandic government took over the company, wiping out all of Gudmundsson’s assets.
He declared bankruptcy, acknowledging he was in debt to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds. Gudmundsson had to sell the Premier League soccer team he owned in London, West Ham United Football Club.
Full Name: Aubrey Kerr McClendon
Born: July 14, 1959, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States.
Died: March 2, 2016, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States.
Business Founded: Founded American Energy Partners, co-founded and CEO of Chesapeake Energy.
As the co-founder of large oil and gas business Chesapeake Energy, Aubrey McClendon was allegedly worth $1.2 billion. He may not, however, have made his money on the basis of honesty. He was charged with federal conspiracy charges in 2016.
McClendon was accused by the government of unfairly rigging bidding for drilling licenses. McClendon died in a car accident the day after he was accused, which some have suspected was a suicide.
Despite McClendon’s appearance of affluence prior to his death, creditors claimed he borrowed $465 million in 2013 for business projects and demanded payment from his estate. McClendon’s net worth may have been close to zero when he died due to outstanding obligations.
Full Name: Vijay Vittal Mallya
Born: December 18, 1955, Kolkata, India.
Business Founded: Kingfisher Airlines, UB conglomerate, United Breweries Group.
At the age of 28, Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya took over his father’s liquor industry and grew it into a multibillion-dollar empire with a net worth of $1.5 billion. Later, he took over Kingfisher Airlines, but in order to keep the company afloat, he racked up tremendous debt.
He was charged with $1.3 billion in money laundering and fraud beginning in 2012. Mallya fled India for the United Kingdom in 2016 after being pursued by creditors. He has been fighting extradition in British courts since 2018.
In October 2020, the UK Ministry of External Affairs informed the Indian authorities that Mallya would not be returned to India until a “secret legal matter” was resolved.
Full Name: Adolf Merckle
Born: 18 March 1934, Dresden, Germany.
Died: 5 January 2009 (aged 74) Blaubeuren.
Business Founded: Founded Ratiopharm in 1973 but he in 1967, he took over his family company, Merckle GmbH.
Source of Wealth: Businessman (held large stakes in cement company HeidelbergCement as well as vehicle manufacturer Kässbohrer.)
Known for: German billionaire
Adolf Merckle built a massive corporate empire out of his small family firm in Germany, which now has over 100 companies and 100,000 people. His net worth increased to more than $9 billion as a result of this.
However, Merckle’s investment company went bankrupt, and he personally lost hundreds of millions of euros by shorting Volkswagen shares. Merckle was forced to consider bankruptcy as a result of this, as well as a global recession in 2008.
Merckle committed suicide in 2009. His investment firm, VEM, owing banks billions of euros at the time.
Full Name: Patricia Maureen Rose Gay
Born: 6 October 1948, Baghdad, Iraq.
Nationality: Half Chaldean and half Scottish
Business Founded: the Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard
Source of Wealth: Trading, broadcast and cellular properties; notable wins included a $2 billion sale of Metromedia TV stations to News Corp and Hearst in 1985, and a $1.3 billion cash-out for Metromedia’s stake in phone company WorldCom in 1995.
Patricia Kluge, an heiress and socialite, was married to John Kluge, the richest man in America, in the 1980s.
Patricia’s settlement included Albemarle, a Virginia estate and winery, when they divorced in 1990. Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard was founded by her and was a success. She also built a luxury community near Albemarle with multimillion-dollar homes.
However, when the housing crisis struck, everything came to a screeching halt. Kluge was compelled to sell her estate for a fraction of the asking amount to settle her obligations because the residences were empty.
In 2011, it was purchased by Donald Trump, the former President of the United States.
Full Name: Bernard John Ebbers
Born: August 27, 1941 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Died: February 2, 2020 (aged 78) Brookhaven, Mississippi, U.S.
Business Founded: Co-founder and CEO of WorldCom
In the late 1990s, WorldCom appeared to be a prosperous telecom business, and its CEO, Bernie Ebbers, was worth as much as $1.4 billion – but much of that prosperity was a hoax.
WorldCom’s profits were wrongly declared for the wrong year, and billions in expenses were misclassified as investments, increasing the company’s profits by a factor of ten. WorldCom’s books were wrong by $11 billion in total.
Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years in prison when the company went bankrupt. After his lawyers stated that his health was deteriorating, he was released in late 2019. In February 2020, Ebbers passed away.
Full Name: Jocelyne Périsset
Born: September 7, 1945 (age 76 years), Lausanne, Switzerland.
Source of Wealth: Wildenstein received $2.5 billion in her divorce settlement and $100 million each year for the following 13 years
Known for: Extensive facial surgeries
After collecting an estimated $2.5 billion in a divorce settlement from her art dealer husband in 1999, Jocelyn Wildenstein became a billionaire for the first time.
Wildenstein has been highlighted in tabloids several times for her infamous spending habits and extensive cosmetic procedures, earning her the nickname “Catwoman.”
After several works of art in her trust were discovered to be faked or valued far less than expected, she told reporters that her net worth had fallen.
She’s also had to deal with a number of lawsuits and foreclosures. Wildenstein filed for bankruptcy in 2018, stating she had no money in her bank account.
Full Name: Charles Francis Feeney
Born: April 23, 1931 (age 90 years), Elizabeth, New Jersey, United States
Business Founded: Founder of Duty Free Shoppers Group; Founder of The Atlantic Philanthropies
On this list of billionaires who went broke, Chuck Feeney stands out because his massive net worth drop was planned.
Feeney started the airport business Duty Free Shoppers, then founded the private equity firm General Atlantic, amassing an estimated net worth of $8 billion.
Over the last 40 years or so, he has decided to contribute practically all of his money to various domestic and international charities and charitable activities.
Feeney ended his charity company in September 2020, having given away all of his wealth except his and his wife’s retirement funds.
Full Name: Sung Kook Hwang
Born: 1964 (age 57 years), South Korea
Business Founded: Archegos Capital Management
Source of Wealth: Hedge fund trader
When his overleveraged market bets came tumbling down in March 2021, it looks that Bill Hwang became one of the newest billionaires to lose everything.
Hwang’s private investment firm, Archegos Capital Management, is said to have used loans to wager on the stock prices of many media companies, including ViacomCBS and Discovery Inc., which had inflated their perceived worth in the year 2021 before lately dropping.
Archegos defaulted on margin calls and was forced to sell several of its positions, significantly depressing stock prices.
Brokers such as Credit Suisse and Nomura are expected to lose billions of dollars, according to reports.
It’s been impossible to figure out how much money Hwang lost after pleading guilty to insider trading charges in 2012.
According to Bloomberg, it amounts to “one of the single largest losses of personal fortune in history,” according to former Goldman Sachs partner Mike Novogratz.
Hwang’s personal wealth was estimated to be around $10 billion before the margin calls, while the firm’s positions were valued at around $100 billion.