How to Lose $400 Million

I'm not defending Mike Tyson (search), but I did work in the music business 30 years ago and I think I'm qualified to speculate on how an entertainer like Tyson could manage to burn up a figure like $400 million.

You and I might take a week even counting up to 400 million, but let me tell you... it takes much, much less time for managers, accountants, agents, fund managers, real estate advisers, cash flow supervisors, and all the rest to whack up that amount and more, leaving the chump entertainer with nothing except a pile of debts.

The Rolling Stones had to dig themselves out of such a situation 20 years ago. I watched my friend Billy Joel (search) struggle with those problems for years. Talent eventually wins in these deals, and both the Stones and Billy came out fine, though smarting over money that literally evaporated overnight.

So sure, Iron Mike probably threw money around like it was confetti. He probably spoiled himself with an expensive entourage of sycophants, and he probably paid no attention whatsoever to what all these other people were doing with his money.

True, true, true... but if you can track the list of people inside and outside boxing who had some sort of management deal with Tyson, you might see some big numbers flowing from Mike's accounts into the accounts of others.

It happens all the time. As Don Henley (search) once said, "A man with a briefcase can steal more than a man with a gun."

You and I probably aren't going to have that sort of problem, but it's worth keeping in mind.

And best of luck to Tyson. He better learn to balance his own checkbook.

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