The Bankruptcy Case of Walt Disney

For too long, bankruptcy has been a taboo subject.  Many people view it as a moral fault or a personal failure…when in truth, job loss and medical issues are the primary reasons that prompt most bankruptcy filings.

Bankruptcy was created to help moral, responsible people get out of career and sometimes life ending debt or obligations, that were often due to forces well beyond their control. 


Another falsehood about bankruptcy is that it is there to rescue the irresponsible, or more precisely, the foolish. Bankruptcy is the end of one period in a person’s life, but it can also be the start of a new one.

Take the case of Walt Disney.


Born in 1901, Disney declared bankruptcy before the age of 21. A young filmmaker who dreamed of creating animated films for cinemas, Disney founded a company to do just that. Costs and revenues never came into synchronization, however, and his company failed. To prevent a lifetime of trying to make enough money to pay off the debt, Disney declared bankruptcy and closed the studio. In his case, he used the relief to start a new company and find new investors. 

Undismayed by his initial failure as a teenager, Disney secured funding to produce Snow White, was the first animated feature length film, with memorable songs and universally loved characters. It became the highest grossing film of the year. (Eighty years later, it is still considered a must-see for all children.) That film cost four times the expected budget, and it was almost abandoned. They persevered, and it earned almost 5 times its total investment. 

Walt Disney re-invested in the future of his company, creating some of the most memorable television, cinema, and amusement park entertainment in history. He personally received 33 Academy Awards for his efforts– the most of any person by a long stretch. At the time of his death, 45 years after his bankruptcy, Disney was worth more than $5 billion. Today, that fortune would be worth $200 billion.


The point of all this is that as a young man, Walt Disney used bankruptcy in a smart way, to help him out of financial crisis and bring his vision to the world. No doubt, people thought ill of him for doing so, but great people are going to be criticized, no matter what they do. What matters is whether or not you use the legal structure available to you to help you in this situation.

The Gouner Law Office can help you decide if the bankruptcy option is right for your business or personal state of affairs.  We can work with you to fend off creditors, assess your real debts and obligations, and work out a plan of recovery from your financial troubles. A clear and impartial evaluation from a bankruptcy professional can often seem like a light suddenly turned on in the darkness. Contact our office today to place yourself on the road to financial freedom!


Written by Ted Baldwin

May we help you with a legal situation? To schedule a private consultation, call the Gouner Law Office at 225-293-6200 or toll free 800-404-1921You can also fill out our contact form.

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