MIAMI (TheStreet) -- Celebrities have more money than the average American, but there's no evidence that they spent or invested it more wisely during the recent economic downturn.
The average nonceleb doesn't need much prompting to tell you how bad it's been in the past few years. Call last year a recovery period if you must, but Americans still saw personal bankruptcies rise 9% to more than 1.5 million and reach their highest point since bankruptcy law reform was introduced in 2005, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute and the National Bankruptcy Research Center.
Meanwhile, real estate data firm RealtyTrac notes that foreclosures rose to a record 1.05 million, edging the previous record of 918,000 in 2009. That means 26% of all homes sold last year were foreclosures.
It seems only fair that celebrities contribute to both categories, with some losing 280 times the $50,000 the Census Bureau says an American household makes in a year. The following are just 10 examples of celebrities who've taken a huge financial hit during the past few years:
Five years and three teams ago, Boston Celtics center/rapper/actor/Comcast (Stock Quote: CMCSA) pitchman Shaquille O'Neal won an NBA title with Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat. At the time, he was also trying to sell a house on Star Island in Miami Beach that he bought for $18.8 million in 2004. Sitting on 2.5 acres along 300 feet of Biscayne Bay waterfront, the 19,400-square-foot home had eight bedrooms, a two-bedroom guest house, a tennis court, an indoor racquetball court, a six-car garage and a pool splashed with the Superman logo.
Shaq tried to flip the house for what he felt was a reasonable $32 million to $35 million and in 2007 almost had a New York Yankees third baseman on the hook for $25 million. But he watched the estate linger on the market for five years amid a housing crisis that flushed Miami housing prices by nearly 40%, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.
Eventually, Shaq unloaded the house on Russian real estate magnate and Naomi Campbell paramour Vladislav Doronin in 2009 for a reported $16 million -- $2.8 million less than he paid and less than half his asking price. Shaq has since recovered, heading toward the playoffs as starting center (once he comes back from injury) of the NBA's East-leading Celtics, but only in the world of celebrity investments and bankrupcy can a $2.8 million to $16 million loss be considered getting off light.