How Tyson Spent Cool $470M on his Way to Fiscal Ruin
Paul Scott, New York Post, Feb. 15
WHEN it comes to money, boxer Mike Tyson has a famously short memory.
This week, the one-time world heavyweight champion has been wracking what is left of his punch-drunk brain to remember what happened to the fortune-estimated at $470 million-he has frittered away.
Now down to his last $5,000 and a self-declared bankrupt, he has been trying, at the behest of his lawyers, to work out where it all went.
According to court papers filed in New York last week, the fallen fighter simply gave away vast chunks of his wealth to an assorted band of hangers-on and sycophants who attached themselves to him when the going was good.
Now that the money has gone, so too have the parasites, along with the lavish gifts he bestowed on them.
Tyson claims he “does not recall the identities” of the cronies who were presented with, among many other extravagant gifts, men’s mink and chinchilla coats, and a woman’s mink jacket valued at more than $75,000.
The whereabouts of another $1.1 million worth of gifts are unknown, say the court documents.
One thing’s for sure, however: The coterie of girls, minders and henchmen who lived the high life at his expense won’t be lining up to return the diamonds, Cartier watches and cars he gave away in the orgy of excess lasting almost 20 years.
The good times are over forever. The gravy train that funded his ultra-decadent lifestyle has been spectacularly derailed. Tyson really is broke.
THE details of his demise, chronicled in the court pa pers, make fascinating reading. In one month, last November, he earned just $5.
His expenditures over Christmas, in particular, are a pitiful reminder of how far from grace Iron Mike has fallen-he spent just $85.
But Tyson’s newfound frugality is born out of necessity. He owes more than $26 million to a host of creditors, including more than $3.7 million to the British taxman.
Now he’s relying on a frustratingly protracted and expensive legal battle with his former manager, the flamboyant promoter Don King, to win back the $124 million he says he is owed.
But even those who support the ex-champ fear that, not for the first time, he is punching above his weight.
The 37-year-old Tyson is a shadow of the fearsome and majestic fighter who first became the champion of the world at the age of 20.
His prodigious talent has been dulled by age, debauchery and an increasing reliance on antidepressant pills.
Now he is reduced to negotiating a deal for himself to fight a wrestling match in Japan with a former funeral-home worker and failed football player called The Beast.
Even Tyson’s own psychiatrist, to whom he turned in 2000 to help him deal with his violence and addiction to vast spending, is suing his client for $9,000-a-month treatment fees.
Tyson’s descent from fighting machine to snarling pantomime baddie is the result of a profligate lifestyle never before seen in a business well used to extravagant displays of wealth.
He once owned five houses, one of which boasted 38 bathrooms. Each came complete with a garage full of Bentleys, Mercedes and BMWs-110 cars in total, according to one estimate.
His legal bills have been estimated at almost $5.6 million a year, and then there is the $110,000 a year he spends on cell phones.
Last year, his divorce from his second wife, pediatrician Monica Turner, cost him $13 million and his mansion in Farmington, Conn.
He bought the 17-acre estate with 18 bedrooms, seven kitchens and its own nightclub in 1996, but stayed there only one night.
At the height of his spending spree, Tyson would regularly make the Versace store at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas close its doors so he could go on $470,000 shopping splurges with the team of hangers-on.
He would spend up to $1.8 million a visit at his favorite jewelry shop.
In a two-year period, his gardening bill at just one of his homes was a massive $375,000, while on a trip to London he tried to buy a $1.1 million Formula 1 racing car.
The deal fell through only when he discovered he could not drive it on the road.
In one bizarre act of indulgence, he spent $188,000 on two white Bengal tigers he delighted in taking on in noisy wrestling bouts.
THE loss of his millions has hit Brooklyn-born Tyson hard.
Friends say he rarely visits any of the homes he still nominally owns in Ohio, Las Vegas and New York before they are sold off to meet his mammoth debts.
Instead, he leads a nomadic existence, running up huge limousine bills going from party to party at the Las Vegas hotels and casinos where his once-legendary boxing talent still guarantees him a welcome of sorts.
His bills are being picked up by the dwindling number of promoters and TV channels who believe that getting Tyson back into the ring will pull in the bettors.
Accompanying Tyson on these trips is an ever-diminishing band of aggressive and intimidating gang members, some of whom are tattooed with the name of their master.
In the past, they have worked as “gofers” for him, procuring the never-ending stream of young women who still wanted to share Tyson’s bed, despite his 1992 conviction for the rape of Miss Black America contestant and Sunday school teacher Desiree Washington in an Indianapolis hotel.
During the trial, Tyson, who had been on a 72-hour booze and drug binge, had attempted to prove that the 18-year-old virgin had been a willing participant.
He was ultimately found guilty of raping her and sentenced to six years in prison.
After the conviction, Tyson took to videotaping his sex sessions with a procession of prostitutes and strippers to protect himself from further rape claims.
Tyson now claims to have found love again with model and actress Luz Whitney, but his reputation and history do not inspire confidence he will at last settle down.
And to add to his woes, he is facing trial for assaulting two men outside a Brooklyn hotel last year.
One of his victims says he was left with short-term memory loss and plans to sue the boxer for the beating Tyson allegedly dished out.
Ironically, given Tyson’s precarious state of mind, there are those close to him who are predicting a comeback in the ring for the ex-champion now that British world title holder Lennox Lewis has quit.
Tyson’s friend and biographer Montieth Illingworth says: “Given everything that has happened to Mike during the past year, it might sound odd but I honestly believe that if he can get himself together he could regain his world title.”
Sadly, few in the boxing world would bet on it.