Why Courtney Love isn't really around anymore

Courtney Love was the front woman for a band called "Hole" and the wife of the late Kurt Cobain, who helped make grunge music a thing back in the '90s. Mostly, she was famous for being a trainwreck — belligerent, foul-mouthed, and on drugs most of the time, which was probably one of the reasons why she got so much attention in those days.

Since that time, Love hasn't exactly faded from public view — she put out a couple singles in 2014 and 2015, and she's even been on a few network television shows, sometimes even playing non-trainwreck characters, like a preschool teacher. But she's otherwise been mostly quiet, or at least we see it that way because she's not actually being publicly belligerent, publicly foul-mouthed, and publicly on drugs most of the time. But does that mean she's settled down into a vanilla life with a picket fence and a German shepherd? No way. Here's what happened to Courtney Love.

She owes the IRS a lot of money

Nothing is quite as indicative of trouble in paradise (well, maybe not really paradise, maybe more like the hole you crawl into when you're so out of it you have no idea what you did with your millions of dollars) as a ginormous bill from the IRS. According to People magazine, Courtney Love had just paid off a whopping $320,000 tax bill from 2012 and a $266,000 bill from 2009 and 2011 when the IRS said, "Thanks, oh hey, when are you going to pay this other $568,674.62 you owe us from 2016?"

Love's past is riddled with financial troubles, not just limited to huge IRS bills. In 2014 she told The Sunday Times that she lost "about $27 million" from her late husband's estate, mostly because she was getting sued all the time. So while a tax bill of more than a half million would horrify just about anyone, at this point she's probably at least sort of numb to those kinds of numbers.

Of course by our reckoning, that still leaves 2010, 2013, 2014, and 2015, and anything left unpaid after the IRS gets their half a million, but who's counting? (Answer: the IRS.)

She tried to warn us

The entertainment world really hasn't taken Courtney Love very seriously over the years, which is why her prescient words just before the 2005 Comedy Central roast of Pamela Anderson mostly fell on deaf ears. When asked if she had any advice for young women who are new to Hollywood, she hesitated for just a moment before saying, "If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party in the Four Seasons, don't go."

She then went on to disgust and horrify everyone who attended the roast by heckling the speakers, flipping off random people, flashing her underwear, pulling up her top, and generally behaving like the Courtney Love everyone remembered from the '90s. So it wasn't until all the recent Harvey Weinstein stuff went down that anyone even remembered what she said on the red carpet, but by then it was 12 years too late.

Love later told TMZ that she was "eternally banned" from the Creative Arts Agency (CAA) after speaking out against Weinstein, but CAA told CNN that they had no idea what she was talking about. And since it's Courtney Love Love, well, we don't really know who to believe.

Custody yo-yos

And because no tale of woe and crawling into a hole where the IRS can't find you would be complete without a custody battle, in 2009, Courtney Love lost custody of her daughter Frances Bean Cobain — again. Now, according to Love's former attorney, it was just a matter of preference — 17-year-old Frances wanted to live with her grandmother (Kurt Cobain's mother) Wendy O'Connor. But there were also some hints that the story might be bigger than that, because there was rather a lot of history of losing custody, regaining custody, and then losing it again.

According to People, the first time Love lost custody was when her daughter was just a few weeks old, after a Vanity Fair article said she used drugs while pregnant. The allegations were unproven (at the time), and Frances was returned to her parents. Then when she was 11, Love tried to break into an ex-boyfriend's house, overdosed on painkillers and threatened to kill herself. Authorities figured that was maybe a sign Love wasn't really capable of caring for her child, and she lost custody again.

In 2006, Frances said Love was "an awesome mom," which seems a bit charitable given all the drama, but many kids think their parents are heroes, and we don't really know what was going on while Love was not breaking into people's houses or overdosing or threatening suicide. Maybe there was some Mommy and Me yoga in there somewhere, too.

Heroin, OxyContin and cocaine for breakfast

It's no huge secret that Courtney Love had a drug problem. In 2005 she told a judge she'd used drugs in violation of her probation terms. In 2003 she overdosed on painkillers and was charged with illegal possession of hydrocodone and OxyContin. In 2015 she admitted to using heroin while pregnant with her daughter, which you'll remember was the reason she lost custody when Frances was an infant. (Frances is an adult now, so Love didn't have anything to lose by finally admitting the truth.) She also told The Fix a strange story about having cocaine delivered to her house in Beverly Hills.

According to Us Weekly, Love began her descent into addiction at a party in the mid-'90s at the home of Charlie Sheen, where a whole bunch of celebrities were doing similarly naughty things. Love claims she kicked her heroin habit in 1996, except for one sole incident in 2005 when: "I shot myself up on purpose to kill myself."

Today she says, "I think of myself as sober." Prescription pills don't count, though. "When you're used to heroin and cocaine," she told The Fix, "a few pills doesn't seem like the end of the world." That was in 2012. In 2015 she told David Letterman, "There are no more drugs," which we'd love to think includes all those prescription pills, too. But only Love knows for sure.

Kurt Cobain's stuff might not really belong to her

If you were cash-strapped and also owned the estate and publicity rights of a big-name celebrity, what would you do? According to The Fix, Love is considering selling it all off. Cobain's estate might be worth as much as $100 million, and it's all stored in a warehouse, which incidentally Love is not allowed to enter unless she's accompanied by one of her daughter's representatives, so just in case you were thinking that Love's relationship with her daughter was completely stress-free, well, there you go.

Frances Bean also recently obtained control of her father's publicity rights, which means only she has the right to gain financially from the use of Cobain's name and likeness. Love agreed to relinquish control in exchange for a $2.75 million loan from Frances' trust fund, which we really hope she'll use to pay off the IRS.

Her strained relationship with Frances Bean isn't the only thing standing in the way of Love and the $100 million she might get if she auctioned off Cobain's stuff — there's also the teensy-weensy problem of maybe not having the right to auction off any of that stuff because she hasn't paid the bill on the "pricey L.A. storage facility" where the stuff is currently housed. Oops.

She gets sued a lot

It's not really that surprising that Courtney Love gets sued a lot. She doesn't really have a mouth barometer, and she's not known for being on the straight and narrow. She also tends to get sued for just not paying her bills, which is a bit surprising for someone whose net worth is reportedly $150 million. But let's not forget that a drug problem costs money, and it also pretty much erases the desire to do ordinary things like get up in the morning, buy toilet paper, and write a rent check for the storage facility that's housing $100 million worth of your late husband's stuff.

As it turns out, that's not the only unpaid bill Love has — according to Business Insider, in 2012, her ex-lawyer sued her for a half million in unpaid legal fees. That same year, her former assistant also sued her, claiming the singer had withheld payment because she'd refused to hire a computer hacker and forge legal documents. In 2015 her psychiatrist sued her for $60,000 in unpaid bills. She's also been sued for unpaid rehab bills and an American Express bill. So it's actually almost refreshing to hear about the time she was sued for Twitter defamation. That suit was based on a tweet in which Love accused former attorney, Rhonda Holmes, of being "bought off." The jury ended up deciding Love wasn't liable, so at least that particular lawsuit ended in the singer's favor.

She sues other people a lot

Not to be outdone, Love sues people all the time, too. In 2001, she sued her record label for "unfair accounting practices." In 2009, she countersued Rhonda Holmes for making "shockingly false and misleading representations" in a letter sent to Frances Bean, which was full of inappropriately personal advice, strange rantings, and "solicitous" statements. The lawyer's defense: She didn't write the letter; Love wrote the letter. Sigh.

But wait, there's more. In 2001 CBS said Love was suing her boyfriend's ex-wife, who she claimed was "on a mission to destroy her." Love said the woman hired private investigators to follow her, prank-called her, and ran over her foot with a Volvo. CNN says the case was settled out of court.

There's also the Nirvana suit, in which Love and Frances Bean filed to terminate their business partnership with the surviving members of Nirvana, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl. The dispute later got ugly, when Novoselic and Grohl claimed Courtney was "too incapacitated" to be their business partner. That one was settled out of court, too. And then there was the time she countersued Universal after it sued her for failing to produce albums as agreed — she claimed she'd been coerced into giving up the rights to her music and cheated out of millions of dollars in royalties. Also, this is probably not an exhaustive list. But if you're not into knitting or RC airplanes, perhaps suing people is a perfectly legitimate hobby.

You're awesome, but don't come near me

Just three years after telling everyone she had an "awesome mom," Frances Bean got a restraining order against Courtney Love. According to People, the court prohibited "the minor's mother, Courtney Love Cobain, from certain behavior and from coming within a certain distance of Frances or her guardians." This was the same year Love lost custody of the 17-year-old, you know, because Frances just wanted to go live with Grandma. Despite lawyer assurances that everything was cool, Love couldn't resist posting her feelings on Facebook: "Welcome to the hidden, secret, ugly, white-trash, money grubbing side of the family. Please don't judge the Bean by it. She's a great person, they're just gross."

Court documents were vague but there was mention of "personal problems in the family" and "domestic violence," though it's impossible to really know what exactly that means. Love's lawyers poo-pooed the reference to domestic violence and tried to explain it away as just meant "for the purpose of ensuring a sealing of the case." In other words, lawyers just threw that in there so the media wouldn't be able to access any of the legal documents. Huh? To those of us who aren't celebrity lawyers, that does seem a little self-defeating. 

They stole millions ... er ... billions

In 2008, Courtney Love was getting ready to sue a whole bunch of people for mismanaging her late husband's estate. Rhonda Holmes, you know, the lawyer who sued her for defamation and whom she countersued for that weird letter that she may or may not have written, was determined to make someone pay for all the crimes against Courtney, and was even quoted saying, "I have never seen such greed and moral turpitude. This case is going to make Bernard Madoff look warm and fuzzy."

But that was pretty much the end of it — the lawsuit was never filed. Holmes first claimed someone had "broken into her computer" and erased crucial information but later said she never filed the lawsuit because she was "too busy." So much for truth, justice, and making Bernie Madoff look warm and fuzzy.

So now we'll never find out whether anyone really cheated Love out of a bunch of money. According to The Fix, in 2008 she claimed that "corrupt lawyers and accountants" had robbed her of $250 million, but just two years later she said it was actually $1 billion. "I was so broke that Frances and I had to move in with my stepfather. … All that time, these lawyers and accountants were feasting on billions of my dollars, and Frances and I didn't have a dime. We didn't have money to eat." 

This dude might be pulling the strings

You might remember the name "Sam Lutfi" from 2009. He's the guy Britney Spears got a restraining order against. Spears' mother said he was controlling and manipulative — he'd moved into her house and was controlling her life and finances, telling her whom she was allowed to see. He'd even gone so far as cutting her phone lines. If that seems creepy and weird, here are more creepy and weird facts about Sam Lutfi: There was a 2005 complaint from a woman who claimed he'd sent her offensive emails and faxes and called her 15 to 20 times a day. In 2004 one of his neighbors asked the courts for a restraining order because of verbal threats and the fact that he'd tried to kick the door in. In 2007, another restraining order was issued against Lutfi for a former friend, who said Lutfi had once told him to kill himself.

So a celebrity (or really any human) should probably stay away from a dude like this, but in 2012 The Fix reported that Lutfi had "played a prominent role in [Courtney Love's] day-to-day affairs." When The Fix asked him about their relationship, he denied that they were anything other than friends — but Love's associates say it's more than that. A source told a tabloid that all of Love's business-related affairs have to "go through Sam," and that she is "completely dependent on him for everything." In other words, run, Courtney, run!

Her appearances aren't always met with enthusiasm

Sometimes Courtney Love gets booed. Yes, it's hard to believe. But her habit of getting angry at her audience, swearing, and flipping people off isn't usually the sort of thing that makes fans leave happy.

Now in her defense, Love has had to put up with some major crap over the years. There's a ridiculous ongoing conspiracy theory that she had her husband murdered, which has got to be extraordinarily painful to hear even after so many years have passed. But those rumors, along with all the very public feuding between her and the surviving members of Nirvana, have put her at odds with Kurt Cobain's fans.

When she appeared at Nirvana's Hall of Fame Induction in 2014, Love was booed but actually managed to not say anything rude or flip anyone off. In fact she hugged Dave Grohl, thus symbolically ending decades of bickering.

She's not always in such a tolerant mood, though. According to CBS, in 2012, she was performing with Hole in Brazil when a fan held up a picture of Kurt Cobain, and then she lost it. "I don't need to see a picture of Kurt," she said. Expletive. Expletive. "Throwing that up is stupid and rude." Threat. Expletive. Storms off stage. You can see how it might be upsetting, but that's probably at least one reason why there aren't so many people going to Hole concerts anymore.

She chants, like all the time

Celebrities get into some weird things. Rapper B.o.B is a flat-earther. Gwyneth Paltrow thinks women should put rocks in body parts that are really not meant to contain rocks. Courtney Love is into chanting. "I just hired a Tibetan woman whose entire job is to help me chant," she told The Fix.

"What really saved me," she told David Letterman, "was obviously going to meetings and stuff like that, but I'm a Buddhist. I chant, and I'm really serious about it. I chant twice a day. … It changed my life."

Now, there's no call to disparage something that helps a person, but some people have commented on the, shall we say, enthusiasm that accompanies all the chanting. Telegraph reporter Nigel Farndale wrote that a 15-minute chanting session prior to an interview brought him "close to tears"

Evidently, Buddhist chanting isn't something she does for a few minutes just to settle her nerves or prepare for an interview — she reportedly devotes two or three hours a day to the practice, which is okay if you have a lot of passive income, but it does sort of make one wonder how she finds time for anything else. Maybe that's the real reason we don't hear from Courtney Love anymore.