Do Louis CK and Kanye West belong in the pantheon of artistic hubris?

Both have ploughed their own money into projects that have yet to pay off, but theyre far from the first( or the worst) delinquents just ask Fleetwood Mac

Mention Louis CK and Kanye West and you probably think of one of the greatest comic minds of his generation and the most famous rapper on the planet( some consider Kanye to be the greatest comic mind of his generation, but thats another matter ).

What you may not immediately associate both gentlemen with, given their successes of the last decade, is penury and bankruptcy. But that does seem to have become their fate. Sort of, anyway: CK recently told radio host Howard Stern that he lost millions of dollars from the first season of his uncompromising dramedy Horace and Pete while earlier this year, West announced on Twitter that he was $ 53 m in debt as a result of his forays in the fashion industry.

Yes I am personally rich and I can buy furs and homes, he reassured his fans, but I require access to more money in order to bring more beautiful ideas to the world. Now, you might argue with Wests contention that his ventures musical, way or otherwise constitute beautiful notions, but theres little denying the world would be a poorer place, artistically, without mavericks such as CK and West prepared to risk financial adversity in order toachieve their creative dreams.

Meanwhile, they can both take comfort in the knowledge that theyre hardly the first to go out on an economic limb.

Fleetwood Mac: Tusk( 1979)

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Big spenders: Fleetwood Mac. Photograph: Fotos International/ Rex Features

Fleetwood Macs follow-up to the blockbuster Rumours, one of the biggest-selling albums of all time, has for a long time been a synonym for excess and artistic hubris. Lindseys folly, it has been called, referring to Lindsey Buckingham, who took the opportunity to impose his creative will on the Macs latest project. Rumours may have been a cash cow, but Buckingham was no major label shill, so instead of construction Rumours 2, he veered towards left field, masterminding this 20 -track doubled LP of experimental textures and half-formed doodles, largely lacking the mellifluous melodicism of yore.

It was the most expensive boulder album made up to that phase, expensing a cool $1.4 m, some of which went on renovating a Los Angeles studio, some of which didnt. Various antics, including the consumption of vast quantities of cocaine and demolition of uninsured drummer Mick Fleetwoods $ 70,000 sports car on the first night of record, have entered boulder lore. Tusk changed 4m transcripts, but after the sale of its predecessor, estimated at 40 m, that represents a vertiginous drop down. Still, theres a happy ending, because Tusk is these days regarded as a classic example of career sabotage and commercial suicide the kind of go your own way exert that dedicates music critics the cornet and pigheaded artistry a good name.

Heavens Gate( 1980)

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A still from Heavens Gate. Photo: Allstar/ Cinetext/ United Artists

For many years, Michael Ciminos epic western duked it out with 1987 comedy Ishtar for the title of biggest box office bomb. Nowadays, as mitigation, it is customary to remind cinema-goers that Go With The Wind, The Wizard Of Oz, Its a Wonderful Life and Citizen Kane were all flops when they came out. Moreover, it is said that seven out of 10 movies lose money. But no movie failed on such a massive scale as Heavens Gate. Its expense was exorbitant ($ 44 m ), its production both tortuous and torturous, and it was considered a bloated travesty on its release. As for Cimino, so disastrous were the results of dedicating him total freedom, he has been singlehandedly held responsible for killing off freewheeling 70 s auteur cinema and ushering in a new epoch of corporate control. But as with many of these expensive silliness, hindsight has been kinder to Heavens Gate and it has now assumed an awful splendour, while Cimino has been afforded heroic status for his obstinacy and singularity of vision.

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark( 2011)

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None of the sunlights: Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/ Reuters

A stage musical about the comic superhero? With a soundtrack provided by U2s Bono and The Edge? What could possibly go wrong? As it turns out, everything. The most expensive Broadway production ever, it was beset by technological problems, with potentially life-threatening outcomes. In one incident, a stuntmans safety harness malfunctioned as he jumped from a platform, plunging 30 ft into the orchestra pit as the audience screamed in horror. In another, a dancer suffered broken bones while an actor suffered concussion. Not surprisingly given the colossal disastrousness of the venture and its subsequent critical mauling, the Onion ribbed: In yet another setback for the $65 m Broadway musical a production beset by multiple lags, poor early reviews, and severe injuries to its cast and crew a thermonuclear device explosion during the course of its first act of Tuesday nights preview performance. Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark officially opened on 14 June 2011, and closed on 4 January 2014.

The Bionic Woman( 2007)

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Michelle Ryan in The Bionic Woman. Photograph: NBCU photobank/ Rex Features

The music, movie and theater industries dont have a monopoly when it comes to epic fails. Television has its own contribution to induce to the pantheon of costly bombs. The Bionic Woman actor Michelle Ryan, last insured devoting it cockney big on Eastenders, rebuilt as Jaime Sommers to name but one. A 70 s reboot that didnt connect, it reportedly expensed about $7.5 m simply to create the pilot, while individual episodes came in at around$ 6m. And there was a budget of over $15 m for promotion alone. Bad luck played my own part a strike by the Writers Guild of America forced production to a halt, but after it was over filming never resumed, and the series was cancelled after eight episodes.

Tidal( 2014)

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Usher, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Deadmau5, Kanye West, Jay Z, and J Cole onstage at the Tidal launch event. Photograph: Jamie McCarthy/ Getty Images Northern america

Jay Zs Tidal the first artist-owned streaming service initially had the ring of auteurish endeavour about it, one with an altruistic bent, with its talk of combining lossless audio and high-definition music videos with curated editorial. The launching party surely had the personal touch only the persons doing the touching were all multimillionaires. The Telegraph christened it, The most pompous event in the history of music. It featured the massed ranks of musics wealthiest and most powerful lined up on a stage, ready to instruct us where to construct our pays, including Jack White who helpfully informed stupidkind, We can really educate people to what kind of digital quality they are actually hearing. The average person on the street has no idea. Then there was Madonna daringly and ever so rebelliously lifting her leg and plonking it on a table while she inscribed her signature to the purposes of art human art, as she helpfully delineated, drawing the distinction between the latter and, presumably, animal or insect art.

For all Jay Zs caring motives about procuring decent rates of remuneration for musicians, something about that event sent out the incorrect message, and within 12 months Bloomberg news was reporting that Tidal had less than a million users, compared with Spotifys 75 million, and was wonder: Why Jay Zs Tidal Is a Complete Disaster.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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