The Most Epic Falls From Grace in Recent History

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We all love a good scandal, preferably filled with a little political intrigue and a soap opera-ish level of personal backstabbing and broken hearts. Some people like to argue that it is the spread of 24 hour news and tabloid values that has bought this on, but I think that is putting the cart before the horse to a large extent.

I think it is much more likely that the news turned that way because people love a good scandal, then the media deciding to head off in a more tabloid direction and us all begrudgingly falling in love a few years later.

There is no better scandal then the time-honored ‘fall from grace’ narrative. This is when there is not just documented wrong-doing, but that the accused has previously been fawned over and hailed an example for the rest of us to aspire to.

Here are some of the greatest modern falls from graces that I could think of.


Lance Armstrong

How could we not have included Lance in this list? His recent decision not to legally challenge some very serious doping accusations made against him effectively mark the rewriting of his entire cycling career.

Previously one of the most inspiring modern sporting icons of any competitive activity going, Lance had beaten both cancer and his rivals to win the coveted Tour de France seven times. But these achievements have since been written out of the history books due to his unwillingness, the USADA (US Anti-Doping Agency)claim,that he and his team had run one of the largest doping operations in history.

He also lost all of his sponsorship deals with Nike (and they didn’t even drop Tiger) and will have to pay back all of the money he made for winning those Tours. If ever there was a crystal clear lesson for kids on the inevitability of getting caught, then this was it.


Phil Spector

The brain behind the distinctive ‘wall of sound’ technique of record production, and therefore a large number of the most distinctive standards in the modern American canon, Spector is currently in jail for second degree murder.


Bernard Madoff

One of the biggest individual falls from grace in the world of business in the last decade was the jailing of Mr Madoff in 2008 after the revelation that he was responsible for defrauding investors to the tune of $64.8 billion. He admitted upon his arrest that he had actually stopped investing the money he was receiving in the 90s and had been spinning billion dollar yarns ever since.


Mel Gibson

Gibson was one of the highest earning and well respected actors and directors in Hollywood until he dived head first into the bigoted racist pool at the anti-Semitic end. His career has been decidedly sparse ever since.


Michael Jackson

I don’t really think there is anything to add to this story that people aren’t already aware of. Needless to say, rarely has the public’s perception of someone changed so dramatically over such a long period as it did of the wonder-kid -turned -creepy, Peter Pan.



This is perhaps one of the most iconic plummets from grace in the modern era. The bankruptcy and dodgy accounting of a company that had been lauded as one of the best in the world sent shockwaves throughout the global business community, and became the byword for massively orchestrated corporate fraud. It turned out that even a small business accountant on their first day would have been able to sniff out the huge gaps in the company’s finances, yet the edifice of respectability lasted for a surprisingly long time.

These are not the only spectacular falls from grace that there have been in recent times, nor will they be the only ones that we see and read about in the future.

Have I missed any really obvious ones out of the list? 

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Author Byline: James Duval is a freelance IT expert who loves a good ‘fall from grace’ scandal as much as the next man. When not working or blogging for companies such as Choose Your Accountant, James like to ride around the country on a search for fine ales and great music.

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