Stars Who Abandoned Their Mansions

If you've been following the bullish real estate trends since that bitter bubble of 2008, it probably seems counterintuitive that anyone could lose money selling a home. Skyrocketing sales in the sector have been called an "inflation storm" by Market Watch as both buyers and outsized investors with ominous names like Blackstone take advantage of historically low rates, routinely paying thousands over the asking price to outbid the parade of prospective purchasers.

These trends, however, really only hold for the homes of the homely, with more middle-class mortgages. In the rarified realm of real-estate to the stars, the beautiful people are working with a smaller and more volatile slice of the pie. Fancy California casas, sitting in frightfully fire-prone zones, aren't always great investments, and America's royal caste are often parted from their cash.

Showbiz is fickle. Rising stars buy high in those Hollywood hills only to see their Q-scores go splat. Suddenly, they need that equity STAT — taxes, alimony, attorneys — and simply can't afford to wait for the market to come back. Then there's another group of stars, so moneyed that losing millions on their mansions is just another luxury they can manage. These dual dynamics have left a marvelous and myriad variety of celebrity manors abandoned.

What happened to Michael Jordan's monogrammed mansion?

Larry Bird once called MJ "god disguised as Michael Jordan." The Bulls legend might have more money than the big guy, too, with an unfathomable $1.6 billion net worth. But he definitely didn't earn it flipping real-estate. Jordan's sprawling Chicago-area compound spent nearly a decade on the market, the listing slashed to half its original price.

Mike originally purchased the 7-acre property in 1991 for a mere $2 million, according to the New York Post. That's the year he won the first of his six NBA titles. Construction was completed on the eye-popping 56,000-square-foot eye-sore at the estate's center in 1995. MJ sunk millions into sprucing up his sprawling spread. Everything is emblazoned with his iconic logo, including the home's hearth, a full-size basketball court. The front gate features his signature number 23 — even the flags on his putting green have little Air-Jordan emblems, as detailed by Insider.

This is kind of the problem. Jordan initially listed the property in 2012 for a staggering $29 million. Years later, the 9-bedroom stucco super-structure was still on the market, for a relative pittance: $14,855,000. The home is at once too expensive, and too specific. There just aren't enough MJ-obsessed sneakerheads with $30 million to spare who are keen to live in a building that looks like an abandoned Planet Fitness. And so, this marbled post-modernist museum to his Airness sits.

Mike Tyson's home became a church

Forbes estimates Mike Tyson earned some $685 million punching people in the face during the former heavyweight champ's reign of terror. He then squandered it all, filing for bankruptcy in 2003. In his prime, Iron Mike was Ali with power, but following his three-year prison bid for r*pe from 1992 to 1995, he wasn't the same fighter. Starting in 1996, Tyson started getting TKO'd, or worse, by his more durable peers.

The ultimate mausoleum to both Tyson's excess and his felonious fall from grace is his abandoned Ohio mansion. The power-puncher picked up the nearly 20,000-square-foot brick and mortar palace sitting on 58 rural acres in the 1980s. In 1999, Tyson lost the property to a TV marketer for a mere $1.3 million, according to Insider.

Ironically, the TV guy never moved in — he himself was jailed on money laundering charges. The estate sat vacant for years. It was a sorry scene: Tyson's cages for his four white tigers sat rusting and empty. Some dopey anarchist even broke in and defaced the hot tub with a spray can. The photos are haunting. The estate was eventually donated to an Ohio-based church for only $50,000 in back taxes. The worshippers gutted this pantheon to boxing's most prolific puncher. The pool became a sanctuary, says The Sun. Only the basketball court remained as a lingering reminder that a famous athlete once called this temple home.

Evander Holyfield faced financial woes

Given the man who ended Mike Tyson's aura of invincibility lost his mansion, too, one wonders who is managing the millions of America's most-admired pugilists. Evander Holyfield is actually three years older than Iron Mike, but he didn't really get his due until he put down his younger rival — not once, but twice. Better late than never: Holyfield banked nearly half a billion during his 57-fight career, according to the Independent.

The biggest drain on "the real deal" and his finances was his staggering 45,000-square-foot Fayetteville, Georgia palace, built in 1994. The incredible classically-inspired 109-room manor cost a back-breaking $1 million a year to operate, the famed fighter told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Bleacher Report) The electricity bill alone was $17,000 a month. The home's facade is truly a marvel, garrisoned by a gargantuan front-yard pool holding 350,000 gallons of water. Holyfield, though, was the one underwater, losing his land in 2008 for a mere $7.5 million. He reportedly owed twice that amount in mortgage payments alone. The home then went up for auction with bids starting at a mere $2.5 million. Rapper Rick Ross snapped it up in 2014 for an undisclosed sum.

Today, the legend's net worth is pegged at a paltry $1 million. This forced nearly 60-year-old Evander back into the ring in 2021, where the once granite-jawed icon was promptly knocked out in a widely condemned sideshow bout by a much-younger former MMA fighter.

Burt Reynolds' Valhalla was a special place

It's sad to think modern audiences might be near forgetting silver screen star Burt Reynolds. The icon died in 2018 just after rehearsing lines for his role as the blind ranch owner in Quentin Tarantino's tremendous "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood." When speaking to Esquire, Brad Pitt called his two days on set with Reynolds (who was replaced by Bruce Dern), "one of the greatest moments I've had in these however many years we've been at it in this town." 

Long before the earth lost Burt, Burt lost his earthly ode to the gods: his 153-acre Juniper, Florida, ranch dubbed "Valhalla" by the late star. And it was fit for a Nordic deity. The actor was married in the property's very own chapel in 1988, notes the Sun-Sentinel. There was a horse track, wild deer, a farm he let local kids play on, and an 18-crypt mausoleum for his own dearly departed. There was even a movie studio. Parts of "Smokey and The Bandit II" were shot on the property, according to the Daily Mail.

Rumor has it the acreage was also once a hideout for gangster Al Capone. Like Capone, eventually jailed for tax evasion, Reynolds' money problems caught up to him. He filed for bankruptcy in 1999, and the ranch was sold to the county's school district. A developer from New Jersey then nabbed it for $5 million and quickly bulldozed the place to construct 30 individual lots, each with more mortal abodes costing between $1-$1.5 million.

Toni Braxton's mansions weren't forever

When you drop a smash like Toni Braxton did with "Unbreak My Heart" in 1996, it's probably reasonable to think that the hit parade and all those sweet royalty checks will just march on forever. But by 1998, even though her worldwide sales had reached $170 million, notes ABC News, Braxton was filing for bankruptcy. Partly, it turns out, because those royalty deals stunk. The singer was making just pennies on the dollar. Health issues also cost her tour dates. In 2010, Toni Braxton filed bankruptcy again, with as much as $50 million in debts, per TMZ.

Her money troubles were so severe that in 2012, at age 45, the singer was considering posing for Playboy to make ends meet. "I thought about it," Braxton admitted. "The money was tempting, but I'm thinking, I have kids, I have a son, I have boys. What are their friends going to say? 'I saw Denim and Diesel's mom's knockers.' That's not a good thing."

In 2012, Braxton's luxe 16-room mansion in Atlanta was foreclosed and went on the market at just over $1 million. Somehow, by 2014, she was able to get herself into a plush $2.9 million French-style home in trendy Calabasas — made so famous by the Kardashians. The 5,323-square-foot home is considered "affordable" for the neighborhood, according to Trulia, and has all the necessary McMansion amenities: walk-in closets, five indoor-outdoor fireplaces, pool and spa, top-notch kitchen appliances. But Braxton was once again out in 2016, selling the place for $3.4 million.

Katy Perry lost money in the Hollywood Hills

As hard as it must have been for Katy Perry to watch her marriage to Russell Brand implode, surely that's a preferable reason to abandon your abode than to be thrown out on your backside after a bad breakup with your bank.

In 2011, the singer purchased a sleek Spanish-style Hollywood Hills home for an apparently gratuitous $6.5 million. Perry and Brand had wed the previous year in India, to much fanfare, but before they could even pull up his and her moving trucks, the couple was citing "irreconcilable differences" (per TMZ).

The duo's lawyers must've been on extended vacations, too, because they didn't even have a prenup. Russell was entitled to $20 million of Katy's cash — but didn't take any! Perry did take a loss on the house, though, deciding to offload her unused 9,000-square-foot Laurel Canyon love nest. She initially dropped the listing to $5.9 million, per Radar. But when that didn't work, she cut another chunk off the tag and found a buyer at $5.565 million, eating a nearly $1 million loss on the deal, according to the Los Angeles Times. She's still sitting pretty, though. The star has amassed a $330 million fortune. Katy Perry also sold the Beverly Hills mansion she shared with Orlando Bloom in 2021, for nearly $7.5 million, and basically broke even (via Dirt).

Reese Witherspoon has been shedding her California houses

If anyone can cut a sweet deal on real estate, you'd think it'd be Elle Woods Esquire, but Reese Witherspoon couldn't big-little lie her way out of at least one painful property loss.

One trend to note is that high-end California real-estate doesn't necessarily appreciate — even after half a decade of good PR. Witherspoon acquired one gorgeous Spanish colonial in Ojai, California in 2008 for $5.8 million. The actor purchased the residence from famed interior designer Kathryn Ireland, according to The Hollywood Reporter. But by 2012, Witherspoon and her husband, CAA talent agent Jim Toth, had tired of the sprawling equestrian enclave and listed the property for a wishful $10 million.

Witherspoon did the most to get value out of the seven-acre estate. It was featured in Elle Decor only weeks before the listing. And yet, no takers. She quickly slashed the price nearly in half to $5.9 million, but made a final cut to $4,983,500 for an unknown buyer in 2013, The Real Estalker reported (via Insider). She lost $816,500 on the place. Witherspoon can weather it, though. Even before cashing out, Forbes says she's worth $400 million, so she can abandon all the mansions she wants. In 2010, she also nearly made her money back, netting half a million offloading her Malibu vacation home – this right after selling another mansion in the Pacific Palisades for $17 million.

Ryan Phillippe cut his losses overlooking the Sunset Strip

Speaking of Reese, the former Mr. Witherspoon learned a cruel lesson when he intentionally sold his Hollywood Hills home at a million-dollar loss in 2013. Ryan Phillippe picked up his own Los Angeles home in 2008, just as the ink was drying on the former couple's divorce papers. 

Maybe it was the circumstances that had the handsome star shelling out the shekels for this stunner. He forked over $7,175,000 for a gated getaway, described in the listing as an "utterly secure and private Zen modern retreat ... nestled in the hills just above the Sunset Strip" (via Trulia). While lord of this land, Phillippe converted the two-story entry hall into a home gym. The "bright" and "spacious" abode "with killer city views" also boasts a "home theater, cook's kitchen, a swimmer's pool with underwater speakers and spa, several outdoor entertaining spaces, outdoor kitchen, sauna, and phenomenal indoor-outdoor flow." 

Nonetheless, Phillippe put up his pad multiple times: first at $7.45 million, even getting HuffPost to take notice, but no dice. The 5-bedroom, 6.5-bathroom, 7,600-square-foot estate eventually sold in March 2013 for $6 million flat (per Trulia). Very flat, that loss not including whatever his fancy home-gym renovations cost. The actor has a tidy supposed net worth of $30 million, but one wonders, given California's notorious property taxes, if the liquid sector of that stack was enough to lubricate such luxe accommodations.

Why did Christina Aguilera leave her posh palace?

Put Christina Aguilera down in the category of lost-shares, don't-care when it comes to the vicissitudes of L.A. real estate. The genie in a bottle was the highest-paid judge on "The Voice" in 2011, earning a whopping $17 million a year — though she did take a pay cut to a paltry $12.5 million, according to TheWrap

Xtina is still maybe (upper) middle class when it comes to the mega-rich with her $160 million net worth. But that was more than enough to shrug off the hurt of losing $2 million on the 2013 sale of her genuinely "garish" (says the Daily Mail) Beverly Hills home. The singer was determined to drop the 6-bedroom, 9-bathroom, 10,000-square-foot mansion fitted with an interior that looks more like an early-aughts Victoria's Secret dressing room.

Maybe that's because the largely pink palace previously propped up the Osbourne clan during their run as reality TV royalty. Aguilera decided to ditch the dump amidst her 2011 divorce from music producer Jordan Bratman. She listed the property at $13.5 million but ultimately accepted a mere $11.5, according to Trulia. It's possible the urgency was in order to move on with actor Matthew Rutler, whom Aguilera met on the set of her 2010 film "Burlesque," (per Elite Daily).

Nelly's 'fixer-upper' has gone down in price

One of the saddest celebrity homes to fall into disrepair belonged to hip-hop superstar Nelly. And this stately St. Louis estate will likely need more than a band-aid to renovate. The listing photos show the once wall-to-wall marbled mansion stripped down to the sub-floors — pricey tiles that once lined almost every square foot on the floor of this 6-bedroom, 7-bathroom, 100,000-square-foot palace, perhaps pulled up and sold off for one reason or another.

Nelly first purchased the palatial property in 2002. It's not clear how much he paid for it, but before the rapper got in, the home was listed at $2,499,000, according to the New York Post. Nelly and a "contractor friend" had hopes of flipping it, according to TMZ. Today, the property is described as a "fixer-upper" with "tons of potential." And despite the jarring condition, a flip seems possible. The Tuscan-style manor sits on 12 woody acres, it has a three-car garage, a game room, a private gate, and perhaps most prominently, a full-size backyard sport court, perfect for pick-up basketball or some doubles tennis.

As of 2021, the "Hot In Here" MC seems to have given up on the project. Locals told RFT they haven't seen the rapper in years. The property is now listed at just under $600,000. This means Nelly, with his (relatively) modest $20 million net worth, likely took a $2 million bath on the investment. That's ten percent of his entire fortune.

Harry Styles, house flipper?

It seems pretty clear that some celebs bail on their bungalows of emotional baggage because they're rich enough to take the hit.

On Valentine's Day 2021, former "House MD" star Olivia Wilde was spotted (by Page Six) moving her luggage from ex Jason Sudeikis' home to the "surprisingly average" (says the New York Post) L.A. residence of new beau Harry Styles. Wilde was joining the former One Direction singer in a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom Hollywood Hills abode belonging to his manager, Jeff Azoff. The $1,375,000 million Laurel Canyon hideaway is modest compared to Styles' previous pad — where maybe Harry learned a lesson in loss on upscale L.A. luxury.

In 2016, Styles picked up a 4,400-square-foot "modern showplace" in the hills above the Sunset Strip for nearly $7 million (via Dirt). The crooner got cocky and tried to flip his flophouse the following year for nearly $8.5 million, accordion to The Wall Street Journal. One thing that should be clear about ritzy Hollywood housing: no one is paying a premium just because some famous person is selling. By 2019, Styles found a buyer at $6.295 million, losing nearly $700,000 on the deal. Wilde herself lost over $100k flipping a house in 2013, per the Los Angeles Times – one more thing the lovers have in common.

Shaquille O'Neal made a profit on his Florida megamansion

This list needs at least one winner, so let's hear it for the big guy. During his rookie year with the Orlando Magic in 1993, Shaquille O'Neal bought a fittingly gargantuan 31,000-square-foot, 12-bedroom, 11.5-bathroom mega-mansion near Port St. Lucie, Florida, for a mere $4 million, according to Realtor.

The "big Aristotle" retired from NBA play in 2011 and tired of his lakefront monstrosity in 2018. The manor sits on a 600-acre private golf course and features an indoor basketball court, a 17-car showroom, a cigar bar, a walk-in humidor, and a soundproof home theater. Shaq first listed the property for $28 million. The price was dropped to $21.9 million in 2019 and then slashed again to $16.5 million in 2020. The home even had its own website to aid in the sale, which told prospective buyers: "Live life large, live like Shaq" (via Insider).

In 2021, the estate was finally sold for that $16.5 million figure, about $12 million less than O'Neal wanted, but a heck of a lot more than he paid for the pad. The new owner will, however, have some work to do removing all those silly "Superman" logos — a signature from Shaq's playing days. O'Neal reportedly wanted out of Florida because he spends so much time filming in Atlanta for "Inside the NBA," says Mansion Global. The center's relentless employment and savvy real estate moves have contributed to his supersized $400 million net worth.

Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth tragically lost their Malibu homes

This list is more about stars who ditched their digs for more modest accommodations, but it's worth a heavy-hearted nod to celebs who lost their dream homes in the tragic slew of California wildfires.

In 2016, Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth renewed their rocky relationship when the Bangerz singer packed up a U-Haul and left the San Fernando Valley behind for the more magical environs of Malibu. The couple had just gotten engaged for a second time, per Variety, and Cyrus was moving right next door to her love from "The Last Song." In June 2014, Hemsworth had purchased a plush $7 million "multi-acre mini compound." Cyrus' new place was situated in the same gated garden above Malibu's Paradise Point. Her 2-acre, 4-bedroom and 3.5-bathroom property cost a relatively modest $2.552 million.

Two years later, yet another California fire swept through the stars' cozy enclave and burned both homes to their foundations. "This is what's left of my house. Love," the Liam Hemsworth wrote on Instagram of the terribly symbolic charred remains of a piece of art turned to near ash. "Many people in Malibu and surrounding areas in California have lost their homes also and my heart goes out to everyone who was affected by these fires." Hemsworth sold the remains of his home in 2019. Miley Cyrus offloaded hers in 2020. Together, they lost millions. The singer's sale closed shortly before her divorce from Hemsworth was finalized.

Nicolas Cage went into debt over his castles

Nicolas Cage is the undisputed king of abandoned abodes. Hollywood's most relentless thespian owned 15 homes at one point, according to Curbed. Cage blew a blinding $150 million fortune on a spending spree that included two medieval mansions, as well as some odd housewarming items, including a dinosaur skull and multiple pygmy heads.

Cage told The New York Times he was "meditating three times a day and reading books on philosophy." That of course, logically, led to taking out multiple mortgages on moats. "I started following mythology, and I was finding properties that aligned with that. It was almost like 'National Treasure,'" the eccentric actor explained of his castle acquisitions.

In 2006, Cage bought Neidstein Castle in Germany for a mere $2.3 million, according to CBS News. The 11th century 10-bedroom, 5-bathroom, 9,688-square-foot Bavarian bachelor pad sits on 400 acres of forest. Cage had big plans to renovate the garrison to its former glory. At some point, the actor picked up a second castle, for $10 million, according to CNBC. He even briefly resided in a "fake castle" just outside of Los Angeles, according to Reuters. The castle-crazy Cage called his buying binge a "grail quest" in an interview with The New York Times. But this hero's journey hit the skids in 2009 when the actor sued his money manager for stealing millions, allegedly "sending Cage down a path toward financial ruin," per CNN. The actor had flushed his fortune and has reportedly since been taking any and all roles just to pay off his fantastical debts.