Nicolas Cage's latest foreclosed house is apparently no national treasure. His Bel-Air castle of kitsch -- worth dozens of millions in better times -- finally sold for $10.5 million. It's the same six-bedroom, nine-bathroom mansion that attracted zero foreclosure bids on the courthouse steps in September after being priced as high as $35 million.
Escrow officially closed this week, the Los Angeles Times reported, with the IRS ceding the title to an anonymous, all-cash buyer who supposedly is going to obliterate the decor, once described by a real estate agent as frat-house bordello. The framed comic-book covers have already been stripped from the walls.
I know we WalletPoppers obsess on Cage, who seems to have as much to do with regular folks' personal finance as Martin Scorsese has to do with home movies. But WalletPop sees in him the ultimate how-not-to example in money management. It's too compelling to ignore -- a celebrity fortune train wreck topped by a bad hairpiece.
At least it's a Hollywood ending for the house. Many thought it was going to be demolished into 11,817 square feet of dust. Dean Martin, a former owner of the house who added a 35-seat theater, is probably celebrating in that happy hour in the sky.
But Cage's woes continue. His portfolio has all the discipline of Charlie Sheen on the town. Cage lost two New Orleans mansions to foreclosure a year ago. When we last checked, he was paying down an additional $14 million he owed in taxes after years of hounding by the IRS. He and his former business manager are trading lawsuits over the crumbling of Cage's empire, which at one point, the manager said, included 15 palatial homes, four yachts and an island in the Bahamas.
"Overextended" doesn't begin to cover it. He's his very own Lehman Brothers. Meanwhile, Cage's career appears to be thriving. He made $40 million last year, according to Forbes, which ranked Cage 10th on its list of Hollywood's Best Actors for the Buck. Forbes determined that for every dollar a studio spent on him, the Leaving Las Vegas Oscar winner earned $17.
He'll have a tough time making that list for 2010. Although he starred in Kick-Ass, which turned a $28 million budget into a modest $48-plus million hit, he also topped the marquee for The Sorcerer's Apprentice, which grossed a mere $63.1 million after it cost a reported $150 million to make.
On top of that, he now has one less house to call home.
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