From Billions to Broke: 29+ Real Housewives Who Went Bankrupt
| LAST UPDATE 02/05/2023
These Real Housewives might seem to be living large, but behind closed doors, things aren't as glamorous. Here are how some of our favorite Bravo stars hit major financial lows over the years...
Lynne Curtin wasn't the only Real Housewife of Orange County to deal with some form of bankruptcy - but she sure is the most memorable. Court documents revealed the former reality star only had $100 to her name at one point!
Curtin's financial troubles were no secret to the millions of RHOC viewers. During her divorce from now ex-husband Frank Curtin, TMZ reported she was spending just $515 a month and making only $3000 a year on her jewelry line. It was when her daughters were served with an eviction notice that things really hit the fan.
Kim Richards might have grown up in the spotlight for being a successful child actress, but sadly, that success did not carry over into her adulthood. According to TMZ, Richards has quite the rap sheet, including trespassing, resisting arrest, battery on a police officer, and a couple more hits.
Unfortunately, these run-ins with the law contributed to her depleting bank account and eventual departure from the RHOBH in 2015. According to Radar Online, during that time, she was living with her sister, Kathy Hilton, because she had "no place else to go" and "would be homeless" otherwise.
RHOC star Alexis Bellino and her now ex-husband Jim filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection via his company, Global Marine, Inc, in December 2010. However, Jim stated at the time, "To set the record straight, we have not filed bankruptcy." Well, losing their million-dollar home suggested otherwise…
According to Radar Online, the couple received a foreclosure notice for their Newport Beach mansion in 2010 after they quite literally spent more than they could handle. The couple spent nearly $6 million in renovations, defaulted on their $4.5 million home loan, and still owed more than $4.67 million afterward.
The Real Housewives of Orange County star Tammy Knickerbocker used to live in one of the most extravagant mansions in Coto de Caza before she and her late husband, Lou, lost their fortune. The couple made their millions through an International Beauty Supply company founded back in 1985.
According to Tammy herself, the company even hit an annual income of over $68 million dollars at one point. But after a "series of misfortunes," Knickerbocker said, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2000 - and Tammy, Louis, and their family lost their millions (and their mansion).
Talk about a business deal gone wrong. RHONY cast member Sonja Morgan filed for Chapter 11 after a movie she was trying to produce, starring John Travolta, went completely south and was never made. According to E!, Morgan had listed $13.5 million in assets and $19.8 million in debts.
It took her seven years to get out of Chapter 11, but she was still being sued for never paying her legal fees. Morgan ended up selling her homes in France and Colorado to help her get out of her financial mess, but still held tight onto her Manhattan townhouse apartment.
Peggy Tanous might have started her time on Real Housewives of Orange County in a Bentley, flashing her money around, but it didn't take long before that came to an end. According to Radar Online, Peggy filed for bankruptcy in 2013, stating her only income at the time was $2,500/a month in child support from her ex-husband, Micah.
The former reality star only lasted one season on the show, claiming she'd been through "months of negotiations" before making her decision to exit the show. Shortly after, Tanous filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy after owing $1.5 million on her California house and $300,000 on a second mortgage.
According to The Blast, Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kenya Moore was handed a hefty tax lien of $152,678.36 back in 2018, right before giving birth to her daughter Brooklyn. The legal claim was placed against her home, the "Moore Manor," where she would eventually have to move out of.
In fact, an inside source from Radar Online claimed Moore fakes all of her wealth anyways. The source alleged Moore was able to have a local car dealership "give her a really expensive car on loan," and in return, "they got the free press." A win-win situation for them both, right?
The Real Housewives of New Jersey star Danielle Staub filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy back in 2012 - with more than half a million dollars in debt. According to The Star-Ledger, Staub had listed $1.9 million in debts, stating she only made $63,791 that year after trying to sell her Wayne, New Jersey mansion for years without any luck.
TMZ even reported she tried to hide some of her assets during the discovery phase of her case but later offered up $35K to avoid criminal charges. The filing got her out of a $7,000 debt to Nordstrom, $7,000 to American Express, $30K in legal fees, and even out of the $100K she owed her ex-husband, Stephen Zalewski.
The OG housewife of New Jersey, Teresa Giudice, got herself into deep trouble with the law that she ended up behind bars for just under a year back in 2014. Giudice and her now ex-husband, Joe, filed for bankruptcy and were eventually accused of hiding assets, but they never settled and instead took their talents to the courtroom.
The Associated Press reported the couple was indicted on federal charges of "conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements on loan applications and bankruptcy fraud," which also led to Joe's 41 months in prison. However, in 2018, TMZ reported they were off the hook and mostly paid everything back.
Another New Jersey housewife, another bankruptcy scandal. Jacqueline Laurita and her husband Chris' clothing line, Signature Apparel, took a hit after a lawsuit claiming the two used company funds to fund their expensive lifestyle with "private jets, limousines, extravagant parties, premium automobiles" and more, per the HuffPost.
The couple was sued for $7.8 million to pay back their debuts, but their legal and financial troubles didn't end there! Radar Online reported their attorneys dropped them as clients in 2014 after refusing to pay for their services, and the couple had settled a tax lien for $338,337.05 in state taxes and $85,127 in federal taxes.
Any RHOBH fans already know Dorit Kemsley's husband PK was not the British business mogul he claimed to be. According to People, PK filed for bankruptcy in England in 2012 and also hit some major problems in the U.S. after facing major gambling issues, plus their combined lawsuit of over $200K over a loan for a swimsuit line.
As it turned out, PK had quite the gambling problem. These high stakes and low odds led the Bellagio Hotel and Casino to sue PK for $3.6 million he owned on a casino marker, per The Blast. He started paying several installments before going MIA and almost getting his assets seized due to the $1.2 million loan he still hadn't paid back.
Wu was part of the debut cast of The Real Housewives of Atlanta back in 2008 and stuck around only for the first two seasons before bopping in and out throughout the show's lifetime. However, it was even before the show kicked off that Wu's ex-husband, Ed Hartwell filed for bankruptcy protection.
TMZ reported that Wu and Hartwell defaulted on a home loan after trying to renegotiate the terms of their mortgage on their house once it dropped extensively in value. However, the couple eventually lost their big beautiful home to foreclosure, Lisa departed RHOA and the two divorced.
One of our favorite Real Housewife of Atlanta stars, NeNe Leakes, racked up quite the bill during her time on the Bravo show, ending with a plea to start her a "Go Fund Me" page. Leakes and her ex, Gregg, were evicted from their five-bedroom home for owing over $6K in rent, according to the New York Daily News.
However, it got worse when Daily Mail reported she was slapped with a tax lien of $824,366.01, and the IRS threatened to seize her assets if she didn't find the cash to cover her expensive habits. NeNe even admitted she was "broke & unemployed" on Twitter and that she was "just another dumb celeb that doesn't know how 2 money manage."
The ladies of Beverly Hills might not suffer from financial debts as much as some of our other stars, but Taylor Armstrong from the original cast of RHOBH suffered one of the most tragic events in the franchise's history. The two put on quite a brave face in the beginning, but in reality, it wasn't looking good.
As it turned out, Russell had an extensive history of money trouble and had already filed for bankruptcy in 2005, with debts over $1 million dollars. The couple was then sued in for over a million dollars in 2011 over claims his company had misappropriated funds, which tragically led to Mr. Armstrong ending his life a month later.
The franchise took its talents to Washington, D.C. but only for one short-lived season. However, during those 11 episodes, we got one of the most memorable couples in Bravo franchise history - Michaele and Tareq Salahi. Even Andy Cohen admitted the reason for the show's cancellation was due to "a stink" after the Salahis left.
In 2010, the same year the show aired, Tareq was involved in two bankruptcies, one over a winery once owned by his family and the other for a polo organization he led that was accused of unpaid bills and fake sponsorships. Not to mention, the pair are forever remembered as the White House Gatecrashers. IYKYK.
Real Housewives of New York's very own Barbara Kavovit filed for personal bankruptcy in 2015, according to Radar Online, after owing more than one million dollars in debt to creditors. That's right, over one million dollars. So what was she spending all this cash on?
Apparently, her debt included $747,900 in legal fees, $25,000 in credit card debt, $86,000 in unpaid debt, and more. However, her legal troubles didn't stop her from going on to bigger things. The former housewife decided to run for New York City mayor in 2021 before dropping out and endorsing Kathryn Garcia.
After RHODC was a flop, Bravo introduced its spinoff, the Real Housewives of Potomac, where Robyn Dixon proudly starred. However, before the series even started, Dixon had filed for bankruptcy, as she was in over $200,000 of debt and only making $2,000 at the time, according to Radar Online.
She later opened up to OK! magazine about her financial trouble, "When you hear someone has filed for bankruptcy, people picture people in the casinos just like, throwing money in the air," adding, "No, that's not what happened." Dixons' bankruptcy was discharged in 2014, and she was mandated to enroll in credit counseling.
Larsa Pippen loves her basketball players! Before she started dating Michael Jordan's son, Marcus, the Real Housewives of Miami star was married to basketball legend Scottie Pippen. However, some major media outlets, such as CBSsports.com and CNBC.com, were calling Pippen out for his spending.
These news outlets were reporting Scottie was aimlessly spending millions and millions of dollars on extravagant items, including a $4 million jet that didn't even move. But, Pippen denied the claims and sued the outlets who falsely accused him. However, the couple called it quits in 2021.
Erika Jayne always had big dreams of living a lavish life, and she manifested it when she married her attorney husband, Thomas Giradi. However, after 20 years of marriage, the couple was sued for allegedly embezzling funds meant for victims of the 2018 Lion Air plane crash and hiding assets. Oh, and they were getting divorced.
The Los Angeles Times wrote an article, "The legal titan the 'Real Housewife': The rise and fall of Tom Girardi and Erika Jayne," where they suggested Girardi "stole millions of dollars from vulnerable clients." Girardi eventually filed for bankruptcy, and Jayne is doing everything she can to keep her high status.
Adriana De Moura
According to The Richest, Adriana De Moura never saw too much wealth during her time on the Real Housewives of Miami. The Brazilian bombshell was married to Roberto Sidi, a corporate exec of a successful company, but after finding out about his secret second family, they filed for divorce, leaving her with not much cash to her name.
As a skilled art gallerist, De Moura was making millions before losing most of it in her divorce. Following the split in 2013, she was worth $500,000, which may seem like a lot of money, but not for someone who was used to living a life of luxury. De Moura remarried Frederic Marq, a French entrepreneur, before recently calling it quits.
Cindy Barshop left The Real Housewives of New York City in the early days but has definitely remained very memorable. While on the show, the housewife expanded her beauty franchise, Completely Bare, to California, where it saw limited success. Following her departure from the show, according to The Richest, her business began to suffer.
She ended up shutting down all her California locations and putting all her energy into rebuilding her brand in New York City. Although she lost a nice chunk of change due to her west-coast locations shutting down, the hair removal guru was able to rebuild her empire in New York and eventually opened up VSPOT Medi Spa for women.
The former Real Housewives of Atlanta star is going to have to dig deep for the thousands of dollars she owes in unpaid legal fees. According to TMZ, Whitfield has been ordered to pay $118,674 to Weinstock & Scavo after never paying them in full following her divorce from former NFL star Bob Whitfield.
Whitfield did pay her lawyers $69,000 for their time, but there was allegedly close to $100 grand left on her tab that she wouldn't cough up. The TV personality claimed the firm was overcharging her, but after Weinstock & Scavo filed a legal suit against her, a judge had her pay the balance plus interest.
The Real Housewives franchise made its way to Salt Lake City in 2020, and housewife Jen Shah has been one of the show's most talked about characters. The Bravo star was arrested for being involved in a giant telemarketing scheme that defrauded "hundreds" of people - and now she is facing up to 14 years in prison.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss stated Shah portrayed "herself as a wealthy and successful businessperson on 'reality' television," but in reality, she was just pushing "fraudulent schemes, motivated by greed, to steal victims' money." Page Six confirmed her conspiracy to commit money laundering charge was subsequently dropped.
These Orange County housewives just can't catch a break, can they? Tamra Judge and now ex-husband Simon Barney filed for bankruptcy in 2010, but according to Radar Online, Simon petitioned for Chapter 13 due to massive credit card debt and other things.
On top of their financial woes, Tamra and Simon were going through a brutal divorce that OG Orange Country housewife fans definitely remember. After 12 years on the show, Tamra took a little break but recently confirmed she will be rejoining the cast for season 17, with husband Eddie Judge by her side.
Who knew sisters-in-law could have so much in common? The Real Housewife of New Jersey star Melissa Gorga may make $750,000 per season, according to Style Caster, but she and Teresa Giudice have both been through some major financial woes during their reign.
According to Radar Online, Melissa and her husband, Joe Gorga, owed $2.25 million to Sterling bank in mortgage on their $500,000 home back in 2018 and put their house on the market for over $3 million in order to pay it off. The couple also was sued for $25K by a window company after never paying them for their services.
Speaking of the New Jersey Housewives, Margaret Josephs is another New Jersey native who struggled to pay up to Uncle Sam. Entering the beloved series during its eighth season in 2017, Josephs has been a staple character, but around the same time, it was revealed by Reality Blurb that she owed close to $200K in taxes to the IRS.
In addition to her hefty bill, Radar Online reported the fashion designer received a tax lien in 2016 due in the amount of $197,066.98, and it didn't stop there. Josephs and her company, Macbeth Collection, were sued for $12 million dollars by Vineyard Vines for alleged "trademark infringement" and was ordered to pay $300K in damages.
The start of season seven of The Real Housewives of Potomac kicked off with a real bang. Mia Thornton claimed she had lost her family fortune, and her very own family took it from her. Her husband, Gordon Thornton, made his money from The Joint Chiropractic franchises - but according to Mia, his brothers have stolen it all.
In fact, she took the allegations straight to her personal Instagram page. "Please pray for our family," she wrote. "Gordon's brothers, who he trusted to support and carry on the family legacy have recently revoked his access to the company back account while we were out of the country." She added, "never experienced such pain."
Another RHOP star that's faced major financial woes is Karen Huger, a housewife whose been a part of the series since it began in 2016. Married to her husband Raymond since 1996, the couple got into some trouble a couple of years ago when it was announced they owed over $1 million in back-due federal taxes, per The Washington Post.
However, it didn't stop there. Allegedly, Ray's software company also owed more than $3 million dollars, putting them in more debt. Rumors spread after the couple sold their Potomac mansion and moved to a smaller property to potentially cover the costs. However, Karen confirmed their financial bills were settled in 2018.
Kelly Dodd is joining her co-stars from The Real Housewives of Orange County when it comes down to her financial responsibilities. According to The Blast, the TV personality and her ex-husband, Michael Dodd, were given a hefty federal tax lien from the IRS for $23,386.62.
The documents obtained by The Blast indicated the couple did not pay taxes in either 2015 or 2016. The IRS put a lien on their family home in Corona Del Mar when the couple was still married. But after the divorce, Michael kept the house, and Kelly claimed she received a $1 million dollar settlement from the divorce.
One last time for the Real Housewives of Orange County! Noella Bergener was slapped with a huge fine earlier this year after ditching her legal responsibilities for months. Radar Online reported the Bravo star owed a massive debt to a law firm, Fried and Goldsman, whom she hired in 2014 during a paternity battle over her daughter.
The court battle was never-ending, and neither was her final bill. Bergener owed her lawyers $293,000 for damages, $116,000 in interest, and an additional $5K for all those other fees - adding up to nearly $450K in overdue debt. When she didn't show up to her court date, she claimed she didn't realize she was responsible for the legal fees.