Celebrities love a good side hustle, whether it’s designing their own clothing line, creating a perfume, or investing in a restaurant.
From the “Kardashian Kard” to Hulk Hogan’s failed pasta restaurant, here are 30 celebrity business ventures that will have you thinking twice before throwing in with a celebrity.
The Kardashian Kard was a prepaid debit card that was pulled off the market after a month due to “pernicious and predatory fees.”
It’s been over a decade since the Kardashians entered our lives, and so much has happened since then that it’s hard to remember everything they have done – like plastering their faces on a MasterCard.
The Kardashian Kard was essentially a prepaid debit card with a certain dollar amount on it. Seems simple right?
Too bad the “kard” came with numerous fees, including $US99.95 just to acquire it. It also came with a monthly fee of $US7.95, cost $US6 to close, and featured a $US2 charge should a customer try to pay a bill with it.
It was so universally hated that Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal wrote a letter to the card’s issuer, explaining that the card was marketed towards vulnerable young adults and teens who might not understand what all these fees meant, and that the Kardashians were taking advantage.
The sisters quickly backed out of the deal, citing negative press, but, according to University National Bank, only 250 consumers had purchased the card,” making it a spectacular failure.
Jennifer Lopez’s restaurant Madre’s served Latin cuisine, and lasted much longer than anticipated.
Comparing 2002 J-Lo to 2018 J-Lo is wild. Sixteen years ago, “Jenny From the Block” had just been released, she was dating Ben Affleck, and was fresh off her role in the iconic rom-com “The Wedding Planner.” She also opened a Cuban/Puerto-Rican restaurant named Madre’s in Pasadena, California.
It’s unclear why Madre’s closed after six years in 2008. All the public was given was a sign in the window stating that it would be closed indefinitely.
Before Yeezy was a glimmer in Kanye West’s eye, there was Pastelle — his first clothing line.
Pastelle might not even technically be considered a business – nothing ever happened with the clothing line. All West did was hype it up, saying it was coming “soon.” For five years.
The polos were never released, and throughout the next five years the rapper teased fans by wearing original creations out in public, at fashion shows, on “SNL,” and even rapping about the brand in his songs. A lyric from iconic jam “Stronger,” is “Go ahead, go nuts, go ape s–t / Especially in my Pastelle and my Bape s–t / Act like you can’t tell who made this.”
In October 2009, High Snobiety reported that Pastelle would never be releasing anything – it was over before it ever began.
Natalie Portman launched a vegan footwear line with Te Casan Footwear, but since it was a bit too overpriced and more than a bit underwhelming, the brand folded within a year.
Portman released a vegan footwear line with Te Casan, called the Natalie Portman Collection, in January 2008. The entire brand folded by December of that year, after putting their entire inventory on sale in November, according to The Cut.
Vegan shoes might have been too ahead of their time – being vegan might be trendy now, but was a lot less mainstream 10 years ago. They were also pretty expensive: a pair of flats sold for $US185.
Blake Lively tried her hand at the lifestyle game with her website Preserve — but nothing will ever be able to top Goop.
Lively launched a lifestyle website called Preserve in 2014, though it folded less than a year later.
Many claim that it was due to the fact that it was unclear what the site was trying to be. In Lively’s own words on the now-defunct site, Preserve was “part magazine, part e-commerce hub, part philanthropic endeavour and – above al l- a place to showcase the power of imagination, ingenuity, quality, and (simply put) people.” That is a lot of words that don’t actually mean anything.
When Lively announced that she was shutting down Preserve she said it was because the site was “not making a difference in people’s lives, whether superficially or in a meaningful way.” Which is an eloquent way of saying it was a flop.
President Donald Trump has had at least 61 business propositions, and, according to the New York Times, 40% of them have failed.
The New York Times concluded that of these 61 deals, 24 failed, 16 had problems, and 21 were successes.
The 24 that failed? Trump Villas in the Grenadines, Trump Tower in Tampa, FL, Mississippi Casino, Trump Atlanta, Trump Ocean Resort in Baja, Trump at Cap Cana, Dominican Republic, Trump Financial, Trump Philadelphia, Trump Dubai Tower in the United Arab Emirates, Trump on the Ocean, Trump Tower in Batumi, GI, Trump Plaza Tower in Israel, GoTrump.com (a travel booking service), US Pro Golf Tour partnership, Sentient Jet partnership, Running Horse golf in Fresno, a Trump animated series, Trump magazine, “Trump Tycoon” (a mobile app), Trump network, Trump Institute, Trump Steaks by Sharper Image, Trump Office for Staples chairs, and brand licensing in Brazil.
Eva Longoria has had not one, but two failed restaurants: SHe and Beso.
Longoria’s first restaurant, Beso, was located in Los Angeles and opened in 2008, and was generally considered a success. Unfortunately, the restaurant was hit with some bad press in 2016 when a man claimed that he was assaulted on the premises. At the time, Beso was closed for renovations (and had missed its planned re-opening date), and just wasn’t able to rebound. It stayed closed until March 2017, when it re-opened under a new name – and without Longoria.
Longoria’s next food venture was SHe, a Las Vegas steakhouse targeted specifically at women, with vaguely sexist portion sizes, called “He-Cuts, She-Cuts, and We-Cuts,” and a mirror on every dessert menu for makeup touch-ups. The joint opened in January 2013, and was closed by May 2014. Many speculated that the restaurant was unable to recover from getting shut down by the health department for numerous violations.
The appeal of Steven Spielberg’s submarine-themed sub restaurant Dive! wore thin after a few years.
The California location of Dive! reportedly cost $US7 million to build, as the entire building was outfitted like a submarine. Every 45 minutes the structure appeared to “submerge,” which meant blaring sirens, blacked out windows, and groaning noises.
This apparently got old quickly: “This restaurant makes me embarrassed to be a human in the ’90s,” said one diner.
The main draw to the restaurant was its gimmicks, but those didn’t really draw in repeat customers. Plus, since it was so expensive to build, it was almost impossible for the place to be profitable. While a second location of Dive! opened in Las Vegas, both would end up closing.
The Fashion Cafe was a model-themed chain restaurant supported by the likes of Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Claudia Schiffer, and Elle MacPherson — but its founders were charged with 51 federal counts each of fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy.
Fashion Cafe came at a time when themed restaurants were huge (see Pastamania, and Dive!) – but “models” isn’t exactly a theme. Plus, it seemed to have been more of a front than anything else.
The cafe had eight locations across the globe, and all closed by 2000, including the New York flagship location, which opened in 1995.
The chain was the brainchild of the Buti brothers, who were both indicted on 51 federal counts each of fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy. Federal authorities claimed that “the brothers told investors they had sunk their own money into the venture when they had not, and that they had misappropriated the funds by diverting them into their own pockets.”
Neither Butti faced their crimes – they both fled to Italy (from where they had emigrated) and were never extradited.
Neil Young attempted to create his own music streaming service and portable device, but both failed miserably.
PonoMusic was founded in 2011 by Young “to create a movement to bring back the soul of music, and to revitalize the vinyl experience in the digital realm,” according to the Pono website. Essentially, the PonoMusicStore provided a “higher quality” of music to be played on a PonoPlayer (PonoMusic’s version of an iPod). A PonoPlayer cost $US400.
Allegedly, the science behind the PonoPlayer didn’t make any sense, and listeners couldn’t even tell which song was coming from a PonoPlayer, and which came from a so-called sub-par mp3 file during a blind audio test.
In 2017, Young announced that the PonoPlayer was officially dead due to high costs.
Debbie Reynolds purchased the Paddlewheel Hotel and Casino in the early ’90s and renamed it Debbie Reynolds’ Hollywood Hotel. Reynolds eventually filed for bankruptcy and the hotel was put up for auction.
The Debbie Reynolds’ Hollywood Hotel was originally envisioned by Reynolds herself as a museum and casino: the legendary performer had collected millions of dollars worth of Hollywood memorabilia ahead of its opening, such as the ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz.”
Reynolds purchased the Paddlewheel Hotel & Casino, and entered into a partnership with Jackpot Enterprises for the casino portion of the hotel, which opened in 1993. However, that partnership meant that Reynolds and the rest of the hotel wouldn’t see a dime of the casino’s profits. But instead of trying to get their own gaming licence, they tried to sell timeshares. These didn’t bring in enough money, and the hotel began haemorrhaging cash. Both the hotel and Reynolds personally filed for bankruptcy in 1997.
At the peak of her fame, Britney Spears opened Nyla, a Cajun-themed restaurant in New York City in 2002, only for her to bail on it six months later.
Nyla was originally described as a “hip, hot, sexy New York lounge” that served Cajun-inspired food in honour of Spears’ Louisiana roots. But the restaurant was already $US350,000 over budget on opening night according to co-owner Bobby Ochs.
After only a few months, it decided to change from Cajun to Italian food, and by November 2002, six months after opening, the popstar had seemingly already severed all ties with the restaurant, noting that “she had no involvement in the day-to-day affairs of Nyla and never derived any money.” Just a few weeks later, three of Nyla’s food suppliers forced the restaurant into filing for bankruptcy, due to over $US25,000 worth of unpaid bills.
Hulk Hogan has tried his hand at various trades throughout his career, but his Wrestlemania-themed pasta restaurant Pastamania might be the most notorious.
Pastamania offered delicacies like Hulk-U’s and Hulk-a-Roos, but apparently had a Chef Boyardee-level of quality.
Baseball star Lenny Dykstra tried to pivot from the game to print media with The Player’s Club, a magazine that promised to be a lifestyle guide for successful pro athletes… but landed himself in prison.
The Player’s Club was supposed to be a magazine for professional athletes, detailing how they should be investing and spending their money, according to Dykstra’s former employee Kevin Coughlin.
Eventually, it became abundantly clear that marketing exclusively towards millionaires wasn’t a great business strategy, and money ran out quickly. Dykstra stopped paying employees, rent, and the Las Vegas-based printer that he used to publish the magazine, and declared bankruptcy in 2009, just one year after it was founded.
He was arrested by the LAPD in 2011 for bankruptcy fraud, and charged with 25 misdemeanour and felony counts of grand theft auto, attempted grand theft auto, identity theft, and other crimes (not all of which were related to the magazine). But in addition to these charges, he was also sued by publishers and print companies he had refused to pay. He was sentenced to three years.
Another moment in time Kim Kardashian would probably like you to forget is when she released her own cupcake mix with now-defunct brand Famous Cupakes. The flavour was called Va-Va-Va-Nilla, obviously.
The Va-Va-Va-Nilla Cupcake Mix, released in 2010, is another questionable Kardashian business venture in the aughts. The cupcakes cost $US13, and came with a vanilla cake mix, cupcake liners, a recipe for frosting, and pink sugar crystals.
These have all but vanished from the internet, and the brand she partnered with, Famous Cupcakes, now appears to just be a Pinterest board on its website.
Kim Basinger bought the town of Braselton, Georgia, hoping to turn it into a tourist attraction with movie and recording studios — these never materialised and Basinger sold the land.
Actress Basinger bought 1,751 acres of the 2,000-acre town of Braselton, Georgia, for $US20 million in 1989 with hopes of turning it into a tourist attraction. The tiny town of 500 people had mixed feelings about the sale, but was generally hopeful that she’d be able to bring it into the national spotlight.
Unfortunately, these plans never materialised. “It’s deader than it was three years ago,” claimed one of the town’s residents in 1992. The Basinger family only made one visit to the town before claiming bankruptcy in 1995, and, according the Baltimore Sun, during the six years that Basinger owned the town “little of note has happened other than the tearing down of some rickety buildings.”
She eventually sold the town’s land for just $US4.3 million in 1995, taking a massive loss.
Before making us cry every week on “This Is Us,” Mandy Moore had her own clothing line called MBlem that lasted three years.
Moore launched MBlem when she was just 21. Even though it had famous fans like Sophia Bush and Vanessa Hudgens, the line came to an end just three years later, in 2010.
She insinuated that she didn’t have much creative control over the line in an interview with Women’s Wear Daily. “If I were to dip my toe back in there, it would have to be the right situation… a great partnership that could represent a true reflection of me and my ideas and you know that wasn’t happening,” said Moore.
50 Cent announced his line of condoms called Magic Stick to promote safe sex, but they never made it to market.
The condoms, named after his song with Lil Kim “Magic Stick,” never materialised because they allegedly didn’t live up to his expectations. “I wanted things in it that wouldn’t work,” said the rapper – whatever that means.
He jokingly announced that due to Tiger Woods’ hugely public sex scandal, he was thinking about reviving the condoms complete with a tigers stripe, but, as of today, the world is still deprived of Magic Stick condoms.
You would think that hotels backed by the Hilton family would be a runaway success, but Nicky-O Hotels by Nicky Hilton proved that wrong.
Hilton told People “I know a good hotel when I see one,” in 2006, ironically a year before her would-be hotel chain Nicky O Hotel was shut down.
Hilton was planning on converting two hotels in Miami to Nicky O Hotels , as well as an expansion to Chicago in 2006, but before she could move up north, a judge ordered both Miami properties to be sold to satisfy a mortgage and penalty debt of $US60 million. Her business partner, Robert Falor Investments later sued her for breach of contract.
Beloved former Phillies pitcher Curt Schilling attempted to break into the video game industry with 38 Studios. The company only released one game before defaulting on a $US75 million loan and declaring bankruptcy.
Schilling himself was a huge gamer, and just a few years after retiring from 20 seasons in the MLB, in 2006, Schilling announced he was putting a dream team together to permanently alter the video game landscape.
Schilling and 38 Studios decided to move their headquarters from Massachusetts to Rhode Island once they secured a $US75 million loan from the state in conjunction with the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, a new state initiative to bring jobs to Rhode Island.
Unfortunately, 38 Studios only produced one game, called “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning,” which was a modest success, selling 1.2 million copies and receiving generally favourable reviews. While 1.2 million may seem like a lot, then-Governor Lincoln Chafee publicly stated the game would have had to sell three million copies to break even.
Once 38 Studios missed a million dollar payment on their giant loan, the state was suspicious. Eventually, Schilling revealed that the company was going through massive layoffs, and wasn’t able to make payroll, let alone pay off the loan.
38 Studios declared bankruptcy in 2012 and left the taxpayers of Rhode Island to deal with their massive loan.
The XFL was supposed to become the next big thing in football, according to WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon. It lasted one season.
The XFL (which doesn’t actually stand for anything) was a joint venture between the WWE and NBC, after the network lost rights to broadcasting NFL games. The league’s singular 2001 season was plagued by disorganization, inferior players, and a concentration on “stunts” rather than actual game play.
But if you’ve been missing the XFL for the past 17 years – fear not! McMahon just announced his intention to revive the league by 2020, citing the NFL’s declining numbers as a signal that the public is ready for something new.
Heidi Montag’s clothing line, Heidiwood for Anchor Blue, was discontinued after a year.
Montag’s clothing line was called “the complete opposite of flattering,” by The Cut, who refused to even photograph themselves wearing the clothes because “No self-respecting grown woman should allow herself to be seen in these garments.”
Anchor Blue called it quits with “The Hills” star a year after the line had debuted in 2008 because “they will be concentrating solely on what their heritage, their foundation, is based on – denim.” That might just be a diplomatic way of saying that no one was interested – apparently when writers at The Cut went shopping for Heidiwood items, they were the only ones.
Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy fame opened nightclub Angels and Kings as a place “where [he and his friends] can hang out and be ourselves,” but all four locations eventually closed.
Wentz opened the first Angels and Kings location in New York City in 2007, claiming that it was so relaxed that “anyone can go and have sex in the bathroom and not get in trouble.” This vibe did not go over well with most people – it had a dismal two-and-a-half stars on Yelp before it closed in 2012.
The club’s other three locations, in Chicago, Hollywood, and Barcelona, also eventually shuttered their doors permanently. Where will Wentz and his friends hang out now?
Smokey Robinson and frozen foods is an odd combination — which is probably why his frozen food line can’t be found in stores anymore.
Robinson is an iconic performer, and rightfully so – his musical talent is undeniable. His talent for creating frozen food? Not so much. In the early 2000s, Robinson attempted to break into the frozen food game, with dishes inspired by his Louisiana roots like gumbo and jambalaya.
It’s unclear when his food was pulled from grocery stores, but the brand’s website is defunct, and a Google search shows that the brand hasn’t been in the news since its release.
Jay-Z’s plans for J Hotels was derailed by the recession.
Jay-Z announced in 2008 that he was getting into the hotel business through a company named J Hotels, and that they had bought a building in the Manhattan neighbourhood of Chelsea for a cool $US66 million.
Unfortunately, during the 2008 financial crisis, real estate took a hit, and Jay-Z, along with his two partners, defaulted on their $US52 million loan. Jay-Z eventually ended up suing the investment firm that loaned him the money, claiming that they were trying to “bleed” an extra $US3.7 million from him instead of accepting the deed to the property.
A settlement was reached, and the hotel property reverted back to the lenders.
Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino released a “couture pop” with restaurant chain Sugar Factory in 2011, but it appears that all couture pops have been discontinued.
Before his tax evasion scandal, Sorrentino was attempting to make sure his 15 minutes of fame from “The Jersey Shore” would last much longer than that. He announced a collaboration with Kardashian-favourite the Sugar Factory by creating a $US25 “couture” lollipop.
What made it $US25? The (fake) green, white, and red jewels that encrusted the pop’s stick, which made it look like an Italy-sponsored lollipop. You could also snag three candy refills for $US12.
If you scour the Sugar Factory website, there appears to be no mention of any couture lollipop, just refills for those of us that have saved our $US25 jeweled lollipop sticks for eight years.
Scott Disick’s NYC restaurant Ryu closed after 191 days.
The development of Ryu was a big plotline of the second season of “Kourtney and Kim Take New York,” with Kourtney dubious as to whether or not the restaurant would actually open. Surprisingly it did, but only for six months in 2014.
Ryu was… a complicated place. Eater put it quite succinctly: “What a terrible space.” After a few months of serving mediocre Japanese food, the doors were locked, and it started selling waffle fries from a side window and giving away free lunches.
Flavour Flav has tried to sell fried chicken multiple times, but has failed every time.
Flavour Flav’s first foray into the fried chicken game was Flav’s Fried Chicken, which opened in Clinton, Iowa, in 2011. The restaurant closed after less than four months because they were struggling to make payroll.
The next year, he opened Flavour Flav’s House of Flavour in Las Vegas, but this chicken venture closed after six months, in September 2012. It had only two-and-a-half stars on Yelp at the time of its closing.
The Public Enemy rapper’s third and final try at the culinary industry was his Michigan restaurant, Flavour Flav’s Chicken & Ribs, which closed in July 2013 because it owed $US20,000 in back rent.
“Shaq Fu” was a confusing video game combining basketball player Shaquille O’Neill and Kung fu — reviews were not kind.
“Shaq Fu” is one of the most universally hated video games in history. IGN called it “[one] of those rare gems, a game so universally reviled that everybody can sit down and agree over its awfulness.” There’s even a website dedicated to spreading the word about how terrible it is.
But we live in 2018, so of course a sequel was released this month, called “Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn.” Spoiler alert: It’s also really bad. Playstation Lifestyle gave the game a measly three out of 10, calling it “dull and soulless mechanically [unfunny].”
Pharrell Williams’ Qream with a Q liqueur ended up as the subject of a $US5 million lawsuit.
The “Happy” singer released his new brand of liqueur, Qream (also called Q Qream and Qream with a Q) in 2011, as a new type of alcohol targeted specifically at women “to celebrate the beautiful, independent, and sophisticated women of today.”
But by 2013, Williams was suing marketing partner Diageo for five million dollars for failing to market the product enough. He alleged that he received word from Diageo in July 2012 that, due to lacklustre sales, the company would cease to sell the drink, even though they had signed a three-year deal. Williams claimed that the reason for the disappointing numbers was because Diageo had insisted on promoting the drink as a “club drink” as opposed to a “high end, leisure class beverage.”
Diageo responded by claiming that “Qream Creme Liqueur continues to be available for sale as one of the many new-to-world brands originating from Diageo’s innovation pipeline.” But for now, the drink’s website remains dark.
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