Nic Cage's big-money problems: too many mansions, jets, cars and ... dinosaur skulls?
No one is going to throw a pity party for Nic Cage, the $20-million movie star who not only has made more bad movies than Nicole Kidman ("National Treasure: Book of Secrets," "Bangkok Dangerous," "Knowing," "Next" and "Ghost Rider," just to name a few recent ones), but who has spent the last dozen or so years living like a Saudi potentate. The actor is now suing his former money manager, Samuel Levin, for $20 million in Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming Levin enriched himself while "sending Cage down a path toward financial ruin."
But according to a wonderfully detailed story by Jacob Bernstein in the Daily Beast, Cage seems to have done a pretty good job of achieving financial ruin all of his own, engaging in the kind of profligate spending habits that gives ample ammunition to critics who say Hollywood is teeming with self-absorbed narcissists. To hear Bernstein tell it: "Cage's appetite was extreme even for Hollywood, with a decade-plus shopping spree that saw him snapping up houses, motorcycles, a jet, yachts, vintage and new cars, expensive watches, meteorites, dinosaur skulls, an enormous pet collection, massive amounts of jewelry for the women in his life, group vacations for his entourage and on and on and on."
Did he say ... meteorites?
Cage's lawyer, Marty Singer, told Bernstein: "Half the stuff you say is false. I'm not going to get into detail." But the reporter offers richly detailed evidence to support his case, which shows Cage having to sell off his 1940 Beverly Hills mansion (former owners: Dean Martin and Tom Jones) for less than half of its original $30-million asking price. Cage has two more mansions in New Orleans that have been foreclosed on and will be auctioned off later this month. Bernstein says they are among "more than a dozen" homes Cage has bought in the past decade, including a castle near Bath, England; an 11th century estate in Etzelwang, Germany; and (count 'em) two Bahamian islands.
In June 2004, Cage owned 18 motorcycles and 30 cars, having spent nearly $500,000 on a Lamborghini Miura SVJ that had been owned by the shah of Iran. He also had a 1955 Jaguar D-Type on exhibit in the billiard room at his Bel-Air home, where it was "lit from above, like something out of a car dealership."
Cage also had a menagerie of animals including rare birds, pure-bred dogs, lizards and snakes, including two king cobras (as well as antidote serum in case they bit someone). He bought his dinosaur skull at auction in 2007 for $276,000 after a heated bidding war with Leonardo DiCaprio. There's so, so much more in the piece, which ends on a bittersweet note, saying that Cage, now in much reduced circumstances, has been forced to ditch his personal chef and decorator, along with a personal trainer, who is now no longer on permanent call.
I guess this can mean only one thing -- watch for a third installment in the "National Treasure" series, since Cage seems like a guy who, even after the riches he's raked in, still needs to star in one more bad movie to make some quick money.
Photo of Nicolas Cage (right) and Lucius Baston in "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans" by Lena Herzog / First Look Studios