How Pete Doherty lost all his money

"What became of the likely lads? What became of the dreams we had?"

So sang a young Pete Doherty with his erstwhile songwriting partner Carl Barât on The Libertines' self-titled 2004 album, which debuted at no. 1 on the UK charts. Even at their height, The Libertines seemed keenly aware that their story was one of loss; of lost chances, passing time, and nostalgic, bittersweet reveries of what might have been if things had turned out just a little bit differently.

The fact was that even back in the hey-day of the band things were already beginning to fall apart for The Libertines, dashing the hopes of their legions of fans who had pinned their colors to the mast of the good ship Albion -– the self-mythologized symbol the band took to describe their journey through the music industry -– and who could already sense that all was not well with the four "thick as thieves" rockers.

Basically, everything came down to Doherty and his out of control drug use. Not only were his addictions becoming so problematic and public that he was tabloid fodder for much of the early 2000s and labeled an "accident waiting to happen" by the Daily Express, but as the band broke apart Doherty was at real risk of becoming destitute. But how could a musician who is so successful on paper botch their finances so badly?

Pete Doherty burgled Carl Barât's apartment

The most infamous -– and perhaps most revealing –- incident in the history of Pete Doherty and The Libertines occurred all the way back in 2003, when, according to the Independent, Doherty had to serve a three-week jail sentence for burglary at the height of the Libertines' hype.

As shocking as that sounds, there is one detail that makes the incident especially perverse: the apartment he decided to break into was Carl Barat's. As the Independent reported, Doherty had been in the throes of a £250 ($355) a-day heroin and crack addiction at the time he burgled his bandmate's apartment and took off with, among other items, a guitar, music equipment, and a laptop. After a period in rehab, it was said that Doherty was sleeping rough on the couches of friends and fans, meaning his recovery was afforded little of the routine or stability required to make sobriety stick.

Though Doherty returned to the Libertines after his prison spell and made up with Barat and the rest of his bandmates, his finances were in freefall. He had previously walked out on the band on the evening of a European tour, according to the Evening Standard. Around this time, Doherty would put on impromptu gigs around London at £10 a ticket to keep his head above water.

Mainstream success and money trouble

The fact that The Libertines went to the top of the charts while Doherty's second band, Babyshambles, also sold hundreds of thousands of records, doesn't mean that Doherty has managed to accrue a huge amount of wealth in the intervening years. In 2007, Doherty's finances were laid bare for all to see when news outlets such as the Evening Standard revealed that the singer was on the verge of bankruptcy.

Doherty was hemorrhaging money through his touring company, which posted extensive losses despite a string of recent gigs, while bad investments and his ongoing drug habit continued to eat into his finances. At the time, Doherty was in a relationship with the model Kate Moss, and lived with her in her exclusive £5 million home. However, the relationship did not last, and Doherty again found himself adrift throughout the 2010s. A reunion of The Libertines in 2014 was a success, though Doherty admitted that he was motivated primarily by the "filthy" money, which was reported to be in the region of £500,000 each for Doherty and Barât, according to Rolling Stone. The money, however, didn't last: in 2018, Doherty was photographed tackling a 4,000-calorie "mega breakfast" at a British cafe, which he got gratis for eating it all in less than 20 minutes.

Doherty later admitted he accepted the challenge because he was "skint," and would not have been able to pay for it if he hadn't won.

Pete Doherty at the Albion Rooms

In 2017, The Libertines collectively bought an old hotel in the British coastal resort of Margate. Doherty explained to the Guardian: "Carl found this gaff and said they were not going to pay me for a certain amount of gigs and then I was going to have a sixth share."

Doherty's bandmates allowed him to housesit in the hotel while it was under renovation, which, in his 2019 Guardian interview, he explained had been a great experience for him as it allowed him to have an extended period in which he didn't have to worry about paying rent. It is a surprising admission from a musician of Doherty's success, however, it would appear that his finances have since been in recovery –- though it can't be said he lives the lifestyle of one of the rock superstars of old. After appearing in court for a number of driving offenses in 2019, it was revealed that Doherty was earning £10,000 a month. 

Though perhaps this amount has since increased; The Libertines toured the UK extensively at the end of 2019, and in the fall of 2020, the Albion Rooms finally opened its doors to paying customers.