A cautionary tale

Confession: I like Nicolas Cage. Always have. There’s something about him — the dopey cuteness, the “aw, shucks” mannerisms, the 3-foot-wide grin — can’t explain it. He’s just always been cool (unlike some of his movies, unfortunately).

So it bothered me when I learned that he was suing his former manager for swindling him out of millions. According to Reuters:

In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and first obtained by celebrity web site TMZ.com, Cage said he had now been forced to “sell major assets and investments at a significant loss” because of the actions of his business advisor and accountant over the past seven years.

The lawsuit said the advisor had also failed to alert Cage to the fact that his money was running out, and had over-extended his lines of credit with banks.”

Well that is awful. Seriously. It has to be unnerving (I’d think, at least at first) to entrust your entire financial health to someone else. Talk about trust, yeesh. It’s probably not outrageous to say that financial handlers are right up there with surgeons. Some folks put their lives in these people’s hands; sometimes it doesn’t work out.

So I had me a pity party for Nic. But whoa, stop the press – who is that? Why, it’s the ex-manager, firing back with a countersuit. Seems there’s a dark side to this sad scrilla saga…

[Ex-manager Samuel Levin] countered Cage’s claim that the actor was left in the dark about his finances.

“Levin repeatedly warned Coppola [Cage’s real surname] that he was living beyond his means, urged him to spend less, and warned him that financial disaster loomed if he continued to spend uncontrollably,” Levin’s filing said.

“Levin described the folly of several other well-known entertainers who compulsively overspent their way into bankruptcy, and warned Coppola ‘it could happen to you,’ ” the filing said.

Cage should have known about his debt because “he signed every check for every monetary transaction throughout the relationship,” Levin said.

Now that’s a man making an awfully big claim. Is it true? (And do big fish really “sign checks” anymore?) Remains to be seen. But there is obviously a bigger question: Who made the nutjob buy all this stuff — and why on earth could he have possibly thought he needed it? This makes Imelda Marcos look like Mother Teresa. Behold:

“In 2007 alone, Cage’s ‘shopping spree entailed the purchase of three additional residences at a total cost of more than $33 million [including two castles in Europe –Two? CASTLES?]; the purchase of 22 automobiles (including 9 Rolls Royces); 12 purchases of expensive jewelry; and 47 purchases of artwork and exotic items,” Levin’s filing said.”

You have to read the whole article. It’ll knock you out.

So back to the issue. Was Cage so consummately clueless about the absolute simplest principles of financial management (e.g., money in must exceed money out) that he actually believed he could afford a Gulfstream jet, a flotilla of yachts, and no fewer than 15 personal residences? Honestly, who could afford to live like this besides a sheik? I guess we’ll find out in February when the case goes to court in LA.

The “cautionary” part of this tale, I think, is that we all wear the results of our choices. In other words, if Cage signed check after check and never once thought to ask, “How’m I doing financially?”, then he’s as much to blame as Levin. Don’t spend like there’s no tomorrow, and then blame others when the well runs dry. Doesn’t matter if you paid someone else to take care of the bills; you’re still responsible for running them up. Don’t pretend you’re not an adult. Just like everyone else in this world: make the choices, live with the consequences.

This series of events is especially unfortunate, given that Cage reportedly changed his last name to avoid unfair treatment by filmmakers who tied him to his famous uncle, director Francis Ford Coppola. Presumably, he wanted a square deal; to work for what he got and make it on his own. And now all this.

Ah well. All fine and good for me to pontificate from afar, here in my own little castle. But I try to keep all things modest, lest I be revisited by Kaptain Karma. He’s realer ‘n Santa Claus, believe it.


3 thoughts on “A cautionary tale

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      You know, I read a great review in the Washington Post about his performance in that movie. It’s on my watch list for sure.


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