The Untold Truth Of American Chopper Star Paul Teutul Sr.

Paul Teutul Sr. spent an entire decade in people's homes as the star of Discovery Channel's American Chopper reality series, which brought the world of Orange County Choppers to the small screen from 2002 until 2012. When the series concluded, he moved to CMT with a reboot show, Orange County Choppers, and now, after a highly-controversial hiatus, he's back on Discovery as part of the rebooted series.

Originally inspired to enter the biker world by iconic films such as 1969's Easy Rider and 1953's The Wild One, Teutul founded Orange County Choppers in 1999 and rose to fame by designing and building custom motorcycles with his sons. Paul Teutul, Jr. and Mikey Teutul. Their father-son relationships were always dramatic, but those family ties seemed to worsen as their fame and fortunes increased. Though the show made Senior a household name, it also landed him in a lot of hot water with the courts, and though he's back on the air, this chop shop paterfamilias still has a lot on the line.  

From addiction to family feuds and a slew of lawsuits, here's the untold truth of Paul Teutul Sr.

He 'chose to die' but was saved by a promise

"On January 7, 1985, I decided that I'd either have to sober up, or die. I chose to die." That was the startling confession Teutul made in his 2009 motivational memoir, The Ride of a Lifetime: Doing Business the Orange County Choppers Way. He was just 35 at the time and after two decades of drinking, his body "was literally falling apart. I was coughing up blood," he said. "On the weekends, I would wake up and not know where I was or how I'd gotten there."

Teutul was eventually saved by a promise to his wife. "I'm a man of my word," he said. "And my word is my ironclad bond, and my vow to my wife had been to get sober, and that was what I was going to do." He began attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and continued doing so for nine years, never missing a single session and never picking up a drink again.

He turned down his son's wedding invitation

Weddings are traditionally an opportunity for family members to put aside their differences and come together to celebrate, but when Paul Teutul, Jr. said "I do" to Rachael Biester in August 2010, he and his father simply couldn't come to terms. This may sound shocking until you recall that Teutul Sr. actually sued his son in December 2009 over stock options from their motorcycle business.

When the couple exchanged vows at New Jersey's Bonnet Island Estate, the father of the groom was nowhere to be seen. According to TMZ, the American Chopper patriarch was invited to the lavish ceremony, which included a whopping six-tier wedding cake and $28,000 worth of flowers, but chose to hold a grudge instead. "It's always sad when a father doesn't come to his own son's wedding, but I still love him," Junior told TMZ. "The truth of the matter is it was an absolutely perfect day and I wouldn't have changed anything."

Despite their oil-and-water antics, these two became co-stars once more when the Discovery Channel revived the American Chopper series in 2018. "I don't wanna to work for my father anymore," Junior said on the show. "but I certainly want more of a relationship and that's what's important to me." Time will tell if these two can weld a stronger bond.

Was his restaurant biz a great big scheme?

As his TV fame grew, Paul Teutal Sr. decided to use the Orange County Choppers' name to get into the restaurant business. According to a May 2010 announcement in Business Wire, the project included opening a "full-service restaurant, bar, microbrewery, gaming, hospitality, retail and entertainment experience" in Newburgh, N.Y., near Senior's home and garage. That was the vision, but the reality left a bitter taste in some investors' mouths.

Page Six reported that by March 2018, the motorcycle aficionado owed New York state more than $22,000 in tax money for the Orange County Choppers Cafe. Originally unveiled as Orange County Choppers Roadhouse, the venture was problematic from the get-go. According to the Miami Herald, more than a dozen investors, "most of them Venezuelans, alleged that they were hoodwinked into investing $12 to $15 million on a business project" that was allegedly hawked simultaneously to multiple groups of investors. Some investors claimed the deal was part of a Ponzi scheme that included issuing "shares in paper companies that had no value at all." The business also changed names multiple types — a move that smelled fishy to some.

To date, Teutal has remained mum about the whole debacle, and the cafe is still open for business.

The courtroom is his second home

Paul Teutul Sr. just can't seem to stay away from the courtroom. He took his son to court in late 2009 over that aforementioned business scuffle. Then, in December 2016, his restaurant project was accused of being part of an alleged Ponzi scheme, and in 2018, and he was back in court contending with a fraud lawsuit.

According to Page Six, Teutul Sr. was "sued for allegedly sabotaging a TV project and costing his business partner millions of dollars." Thomas Derbyshire said he agreed to a $3 million investment for a stake in a spin-off TV series called Orange County Choppers: American Made but claimed Senior delayed filming to go fishing, accepted sponsorships without consulting him, and paid his son, Michael Teutul, a salary with a portion of the investment money.

Senior fired back at the allegations via his rep, who told Page Six that Derbyshire's "interpretation of said events is without merit." At the time of this report, that case is ongoing.

He owes crazy amounts of money

After filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in February 2018, the surprising truth about this reality star's finances was revealed. In court documents (via Page Six), Paul Teutul Sr. claimed he owed roughly 50 creditors a total of nearly $1,071,000; plus $1.8 million worth of "fee interest" on his home; plus another $151,000 and change in taxes to Crawford, N.Y.

According to Page Six, Senior claimed in legal papers that he earns about $16,531 per month but has to spend at least $20,129 monthly just to keep his debts at bay. His business and personal credit card debt totaled roughly $70,000, and he owed some $22,365 in taxes for his restaurant. In addition, Teutul was contending with "a $32,000 judgment against him by Hudson Valley Merchandising and a $51,841.01 claim against him from JTM Motorsports Inc." the tab reported. At the time of the bankruptcy filing, he was supposedly dealing with no less than eight ongoing lawsuits. Yikes.

His foreclosed home was placed up for grabs

In March 2018, the Times Herald-Record reported that Paul Teutul Sr.'s $1.8 million Montgomery, N.Y. mansion was facing foreclosure. Less than two months later, it was reportedly on the market.

According to, the three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath casa is the "perfect place to relax, recharge and entertain." The log-cabin style home clocks in at 3,448 square feet and was built in 2004 on some 38 acres of land. There's also a "massive floor to ceiling stone fireplace, open layout floor plan, full wrap-around porch ... custom in-ground pool with waterfalls, spa and water slide, pool house and volley ball court." There's even a koi pond, a barn and, get this, a two-story garage complete with two "self-contained apartments perfect for guests." 

As of June 2018, the house was still on the market.