“Never underestimate the Pricey.”
Katie Price has spent the best part of 20 years bouncing back from the various curveballs life has thrown at her.
However, last month the controversial star, who was once estimated to be worth £40 million, hit rock bottom as she was declared bankrupt.
It topped off what has been the toughest few years of Katie’s life. Not only has she struggled to pay off spiralling debts, she’s been hit with personal dramas and public scandals that have taken the sheen off her once brightly-shining star.
So, does she still have what it takes to come back from the edge this time – and if so, how?
The story so far
Having started out as a glamour model at the age of 18, Katie – or Jordan, as she was then known – entered the hearts of the nation after her appearance on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in 2004, and her name has barely left the headlines since.
We’ve avidly followed her “crazy life” through countless reality TV series and magazine deals, watched on as she’s gone through various relationship highs and lows and literally bought into brand Pricey, which has included the likes of autobiographies, novels, clothing lines and even an equestrian range.
But Katie’s life has felt increasingly out of control since the breakdown of her third marriage to cheating husband Kieran Hayler in 2017.
She was fined and banned from driving for six months in February 2018 after being caught speeding, later turning herself in to police after she got behind the wheel two weeks before her ban was up. But in October, she was arrested again for being twice over the drink drive limit after crashing her car into a bush. Another driving ban followed.
Her arrest came a month after Katie had checked into rehab, urged by her family to do so when a worrying video emerged of her partying with strangers in Majorca.
She later admitted she had been self-medicating with drugs, however, she denied drugs or alcohol were the reason behind her stint in The Priory. During an interview on Loose Women, she revealed her time in rehab was to address the various traumatic things she’d experienced the previous year, including her mother Amy’s diagnosis with a terminal lung disease, a kidnap threat against disabled son Harvey and being held at gunpoint during a hijack in South Africa.
During this time, her first husband Peter Andre also took custody of their two children, Junior and Princess (they’ve reportedly since gone back to a sharing arrangement). Rumours also began to circulate about the state of her £1.3m West Sussex home – dubbed the “mucky mansion” by the tabloid press – with pictures and video footage revealing a filthy swimming pool, overgrown gardens, rooms piled high with clothes and junk and walls that have been scrawled on by her children.
Dramas with various men continued, with one recent boyfriend, Charles Drury, even publishing various sordid claims about their fling in a tabloid kiss-and-tell.
Katie has also worried fans by undergoing a series of dramatic surgical procedures, including her third facelift, a Brazilian bum lift and liposuction, as well as having her own fat injected around her eyes, drastically altering her appearance.
As these events in her personal life unfolded, Katie’s finances had been taking a battering. In December last year she had entered into an individual voluntary agreement (IVA), after agreeing a plan that was supposed to see her pay back creditors in monthly £12,000 instalments. But, at a court hearing in London on 26 November, a judge declared her bankrupt.
How did it come to this?
In the wake of Katie’s bankruptcy, many figures have been thrown around in the media about her expenditure in an attempt to establish how someone worth a reported £40m ended up broke. However, few of those numbers have been substantiated.
“The problem with Katie Price or anyone like that is that they are used to spending at a certain level, and that’s what gets them into problems,” says Sam Jennings, financial advisor to reality stars and founder of Jennings & Co.
“They can earn a lot of money and they also want to keep up with the people that are around them. Have you ever seen a celebrity driving around in a Ford Focus? They just don’t. They’ll be in a Range Rover, but it doesn’t always mean they can afford that Range Rover.”
Sam continues: “In her prime, Katie was the biggest thing out there, but as the sponsorship deals, magazine deals and TV appearances dried up, she became less and less valued in the public’s eyes and got paid less and less money. That’s fine if you’re spending less and less money, but if you continue to spend at a very high rate, then it is all going to go.”
Katie’s recent run of bad press will have done nothing to help her earning potential – something PR expert Anthony Burr agrees with.
Anthony, whose former clients include footballer Wayne Rooney and boxer Joe Calzaghe, says: “The idea that there’s no such thing as bad publicity is fine if you’re a nobody, but not if you’re a national treasure and a big UK brand like Katie Price was.
“She had a really good image where young girls were aspiring to be like her because this is someone who was a businesswoman, an author and was on TV. But then it became like a car crash in slow motion.”
Although recent events have have hurt Katie’s reputation and brand, Anthony, who owns PR company Burr Media, believes her troubles could first date back to legal wranglings with Pete and her former manager Claire Powell.
After Katie split from Peter in 2009, she falsely accused Claire of having an affair with her ex-husband during the recording of a TV show. Claire successfully sued her, forcing her to pay “substantial compensation” and cover her legal fees.
“It all went downhill when she had the issue with her former manager,” Anthony says. “Claire had managed her really well up until that point, but when it all turned sour, that’s where it all started to unravel because she didn’t have any control.”
But in 2012, Katie took out a privacy claim against both Pete and Claire, claiming they had misused confidential information about her private life and leaked it to the press. The case was later settled out of court, with the action reported to have set Katie back as much as £2m in legal costs alone, plus whatever the secret settlements amounted to.
While Anthony says Katie did bounce back from the court case – noting her victory on Celebrity Big Brother in 2015 as an example – he claims she “didn’t build on that success, with her private life continuing to play out in the media with all the salacious stories”.
“The problem with Katie is she doesn’t bring any curiosity with her, people knew every single thing she was doing,” says Anthony. “She’d agree to a quick, fast buck to let a reality show into her life and in the end, people just think it’s the same-old, same-old.
“I think she’s continued along that path probably quite stubbornly, and that’s why I think she needs to start getting more socially savvy on platforms and start doing projects one by one. There’s nothing that works better than keeping the public curious about you, and there’s none of that. Everyone’s lost curiosity for Katie Price.”
There was a time where that seemed unimaginable, and Anthony recalls seeing the influence Katie had as one of the UK’s biggest names when he worked in PR at magazine publisher Bauer Media, who own celebrity weeklies Heat, Closer and Grazia.
“There was a big Grazia piece about nine/ten years ago where Katie was featured,” he says. “Now you’d never think that Grazia would touch her, but in those days we did an interview and we had to have about seven or eight of her brands mentioned in that piece in the bottom – that was the power she had with the top-selling magazines like that. I was looking after other A-listers at the time who would struggle to get two or three plugs, whereas she had eight.
“In media, people wanted access to her, but instead of staggering her career, she put it all out there at once, earned a staggering amount, spent it all and now she’s back to square one.”
Sam suggests Katie’s losses could be down to a lack of decent wealth planning from a financial advisor.
He helps footballers plan their retirement – which he says can often see players go from earning sums as high as £100,000 a week, to suddenly nothing at the age of 35 – offering ways to help them adjust their spending and invest their money so they have something to live off once they stop playing.
However, he notes that “most” of the celebrities he meets have not engaged financial planners in a similar way.
“Very rarely do they say they are looked after by someone,” he says. “They often have an accountant, but that’s a separate issue. An accountant’s role is to look at how much money they’ve made that year and tell them how much tax they have to pay, whereas my role is to sit with the client on a regular basis – around every six months – to look at what money they’ve got coming in and what they’re spending, to look at setting up saving plans, investments and putting money away for their future, tax, insurance policies, retirement funds and pensions.
“It’s about looking at what their plan for the future is and what they need to sustain that lifestyle.”
What does being bankrupt mean for Katie?
Bankruptcy is essentially what happens when you are no longer able to afford or pay for the debts that you have, and you are spending more money than you are earning. If you ignore demands to pay, or simply can’t, it gets to a point where there is a court order in place that states you will not be able to pay back what you’ve borrowed and your debt is passed over to creditors.
Sam states that creditors then have the ability “to start selling off your assets, like your house, cars and anything you have or order to get some of the money that’s owed to them” – which could draw a question mark over Katie’s future living in her West Sussex mansion.
However, he insists that no arrangement would see someone left homeless.
“You’ve got to be able to eat and still live somewhere and you’re allowed to spend up to a certain level,” he says. “There’s an element of still having a sort-of allowance, but it depends on the situation. If you’ve got £20,000 in a bank account for example, you can’t suddenly spend that money after a bankruptcy order – it would be frozen. There would just be a little bit of surplus left so you could live day-to-day.”
Sam also believes Katie’s lifestyle will mean she faces higher scrutiny from creditors about her spending.
“Katie has been in the public eye for so many years now that she’s used to spending money on very nice holidays and cars, so creditors will be aware of that and will be making sure that her lifestyle doesn’t continue,” he says.
This moment is a “pivotal” one for Katie’s career, according to PR Anthony, who believes she only has one more chance with the British public.
“This can be what makes or breaks people,” he says. “She can use it to her advantage and have a clean break. She’s gone bankrupt and can start again, but she’s only got one more chance to do it again, because otherwise people will just think it’s the same old Katie Price and she’ll be on the scrap heap.
“People that make a lot of money and then blow it all, the public don’t have a lot of sympathy for, so she’s got to really take some time out and show people she’s got a responsibility to her family, get herself sorted and then she can realise what it is she wants to do.”
And Anthony suggests she should start with a much-needed break from the limelight.
He says: “Sometimes less is more. Everyone knows who Katie Price is, so you’re not going to miss out if you go away for six months. In fact, sometimes if you go low profile, when you do come back people are so excited because they want to interview you and find out what your next project is.”
Anthony believes Katie should “hit the reset button” and “reinvent herself” with “something that she’s passionate about and wants to make a difference with”.
“She can’t go for the fast buck anymore,” he says. “She’s got a great work ethic from people I know that have worked with her in the past, and works very hard when she’s passionate, but she has to give everything to it.
“She should find people who she trusts, who aren’t just after making a fast buck off of her too.”
He adds: “She’ll never make £40m again, but she can be someone who is credible on that circuit.”
Sam agrees, saying: “I think she could only do that now if she built some sort of property empire, which you can only do with a bit of money.
“The boat has been missed in terms of posting things on Instagram and stuff like that – the people who are doing that are a lot more relevant and younger, and that’s where the money is now. She should maybe go back into writing books, which fits with her age group and fans of hers.”
He adds: “The good thing about Katie Price is that she’s very well known, she’s got a lot of followers, she’s very well liked with many people still. It’s more than possible for her to bounce back, but she needs is to take a step out of the limelight, reassess what’s important to her and think about how she can use her fame and followers to regroup and start again.”
HuffPost UK contacted a representative for Katie Price for comment on her bankruptcy, but did not receive a response.