Brad from ‘Home Improvement’ Built a Bitcoin Empire and Then Burned It All Down
It’s an unfortunately common story for former child stars — a young actor gains fame and fortune before they can develop common sense, and then they implode in their adult years through substance abuse and shoddy financial decision-making. What makes Home Improvement star Zachery Ty Bryan’s rise-and-fall unique is that, somewhere between the preteen success and the post-assault arrest phases, he made a small fortune on cryptocurrency and became the voice of conservative artists in Hollywood. In other words, Tim Allen wasn’t the only member of the Taylor clan to juggle felony charges and “family values.”
On Wednesday, The Hollywood Reporter released a lengthy feature detailing the rise and fall of Brad Taylor, starting from his humble beginnings in Aurora, Colorado and going all the way up to the present day, wherein Bryan is married to a woman whom he was convicted of assaulting in an ugly incident that marked the end of a facade of financial wizardry and Christian conservative values that he had spent decades cultivating. In recent years, Bryan has marketed himself as a cryptocurrency savant and a mouthpiece for conservatives in entertainment, all while battling alcoholism and spinning a web of lies that would see him swindle friends and associates out of anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 in an apparent cryptocurrency scam.
Following his sitcom stardom, Bryan billed himself as the rare success story in which a child actor uses his shrewd business sense to diversify his talents between producing, investing and entrepreneurialism as he amassed a self-made fortune post-Home Improvement. As it appears today, he was also building a house of cards with all the construction knowledge he learned from “Tool Time.”
In his exhaustive article, The Hollywood Reporter’s Chris Gardner makes numerous allusions to an infamous Home Improvement scene that showed Allen and his TV wife Patricia Richardson heavy-handedly explaining the dangers of marijuana to Bryan after he was caught hiding a drug stash in the family’s backyard gazebo. When Gardner spoke to Allen about the recent struggles of his former co-star, Allen, who battled addiction in his early 20s and spent two years in prison on drug charges, simply said, “I don’t know what’s going on with (Bryan),” explaining, “Zach is a great kid who has grown into a complex man. ... At a certain point, he deviated from the guy I know to somebody who is reacting to situations that I had nothing to do with and can’t control.” He added, “I don’t know what happens when people get corrupted. You just don’t know.”
Following the end of Home Improvement in 1999, the newly 18-year-old actor found himself in a place that countless TV stars have landed post-finale — he couldn’t find meaningful work as he struggled under the weight of his past accomplishments. Bryan eventually used his savings from Home Improvement to branch out into producing, starting his own production company in the 2010s and funding independent films like Prowl, Rogue River and Dark Tourist.
Bryan claims that, during those years, another former child actor, Brock Pierce, turned him onto the potential of Bitcoin, and Bryan apparently got in on the ground floor of the explosive crypto-coin, making unspecified millions when he eventually sold his stash. He then partnered with the farmer-focused tech startup Producers Market and began selling his friends and associates on a produce-backed crypto coin that he promised would be coming down the line and even asserting that legendary quarterback Tom Brady was a partner in the project, a claim Brady unsurprisingly denied.
Here’s the problem: Producers Market never made whatever corncob coin Bryan was selling, and the advisory relationship he once had with the company lasted just two years after they cut ties following the aforementioned domestic violence arrest. And while Bryan was hawking a nonexistent coin and taking very real thousands of dollars from friends and — amazingly — Tinder matches, he was a regular guest on Fox News and Newsmax programs on which he decried the moral degradation of family values and Hollywood’s liberal elites.
In one such media appearance, Bryan hilariously asserted that Home Improvement could never be made today, saying, “the nuclear family is really under political attack from the left,” and theorizing that his character would have to be nonbinary for TV executives to greenlight the show in the modern age.
All the while, Bryan’s own family was quickly collapsing, and, just 16 days after Bryan publicly revealed his divorce from his first wife in an Instagram post that was plagiarized from Armie Hammer’s separation announcement, Bryan was arrested in Oregon and charged with felony strangulation, fourth-degree assault, coercion, menacing, harassment and interference with making a police report after a dispute with his now-wife Johnnie Faye Cartwright.
Bryan’s charges were downgraded to two misdemeanors, to which he pled guilty, compelling him to complete a violence intervention course and ordered by the court not to “buy, possess or consume alcoholic beverages.” However, the biggest consequence Bryan faced would be the implosion of his public image as friends, family members and business partners came to realize that the savvy entrepreneur and devoted family man had been stringing them along with an immense web of deception.
Today, Bryan’s former investors are still trying to recoup the cash they gave him for a crypto coin that never existed, and even Fox News has distanced themselves from the disgraced former actor, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “He was a guest only and has not been booked since the arrest.”
For his part, Bryan told Gardner of his struggles with alcohol, “Every day is a new day and there are stresses and triggers, but I’m learning coping skills. I wake up, go on a nice walk, come back and kick it with the kids. I try to enjoy the little moments rather than try to dream for the big moments. It’s an interesting journey as long as we can stay sober. Then things are going to be good.”
That, of course, sounds like some sort of redemption — or the first few miles on the road toward it. But then again, with Bryan, nothing is ever as it seems.